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August 12, 2009 > CSEB fall sports preview

CSEB fall sports preview

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.

Cal State East Bay's fall sports season is nearing fast. Brand new to this athletic year at CSEB is the entire program making the leap to NCAA Division II, up from NAIA Division II. In the association change, CSEB moved from the Cal Pac Conference to the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

In the fall, CSEB puts four teams into intercollegiate sporting battle: men and women's soccer; women's volleyball; and men's and women's coed cross country.

Tri-City Voice was able to get a hold of each head coach for the fall sports teams - Andrew Cumbo, men's soccer; Amy Gerace, women's soccer; Jim Spagle, women's volleyball; and Greg Ryan, cross country - at CSEB and ask them some of the pressing questions about the upcoming year. Here's what each had to say:

1) Expectations this year?

Men's Soccer: To build a solid foundation while rebuilding the men's soccer program. To develop and maintain our commitment to competing in the CCAA.

Women's Soccer: As with every year, we set high standards for ourselves and try to achieve those standards. This year will be a big learning experience as we enter the CCAA, but again we will set high standards for every facet of the program: our achievement in the classroom, our competitiveness on the soccer field, our dedication and integrity as a soccer program, our presence on the campus with the Student Athlete Council and our involvement in the community.

Volleyball: I expect my team to become a TRUE team. I would expect them to trust, support, love and work extremely hard for their teammates; I expect 16 individuals to grow mentally and physically and become a cohesive unit that competes against far more experienced teams as one strong, unified group; I expect the team to learn both our offensive and defensive systems of play; I expect the team to adhere to their own personal priorities in life: 1) Family 2) School and 3) The Team (volleyball); and I expect them to grow and develop a sense of hard work and toughness that can carry over to lifestyles and future endeavors.

Cross Country: We expect to do well in the CCAA. Women's will be about fifth or sixth out of 13 teams in the division; for the men, we will be a little bit further back as we lost some runners unexpectedly.

2) Players lost?

Men's Soccer: Coach Cumbo was hired to be soccer head coach in late June and hasn't lost any players from the team he was given upon accepting the job.

Women's Soccer: We graduated some big time players from last year's team. A couple that stand out are our leading scorer for the past two seasons, Christina Quitasol; a big time defender and team leader, Whitney Craig; and our goalkeeper who won All-Independent GK of the Year, Koree Palmer.

Volleyball: Jacqueline Randolph, AVCA All American/ Career kill leader for CSU East Bay/ NCAA D3 Independents Athlete of the Year; and Kelly Paris, AVCA All American/ NCAA D3 Independents First Team.

Cross Country: Men: Elliot Nicholson, as well as some last-second recruitments; Women, only one loss from the team was lost.

3) Team leaders last year, who to expect to step up this year?

Men's Soccer: Coach Cumbo was hired to be soccer head coach in late June and hasn't lost any players from the team he was given upon accepting the job.

Women's Soccer: Our team captains last year were Whitney Craig, Britanie Strei and Carisssa Martin. I already see Strei and Martin taking on responsibility and expect that I would see junior Michelle Garcia and sophomore Tenaya Davis take on leadership roles.

Volleyball: Randolph and Paris both were at or near the top of most all statistical categories. They were 1-2 in kills and hitting efficiency (leading the team).

Lauren Massa returns as a two year starter to anchor the libero position; Roxanne Neely returns as a two year starter at setter; and Ariel Ajagu, a natural leader who we expect to direct the team on and off the court, returns as a starting middle hitter.

Cross Country: Men to look for: Francisco Pullido; Women to look for: Nancy Velazquez and Kristin Parker.

4) New players?

Men's Soccer: Joshua Alvarez, Andy Pauley, Ryan Herriage, Tyler Andersen, Alex Dickerson

Women's Soccer: With our move to Division II, we have a lot. We have two huge additions that joined us in the spring, Jennifer Lu and Jasmine Stephens, both big time players. I would also pay attention to Zuly Diaz, Abby Barton, Carly Genzoli, Claudia Luna, Danielle Barbounis and some other talented freshman that will be joining the squad.

Volleyball: Sukjit Athwal (soph.) and Cara Crowder (jr.) will bring some NCAA D1 experience from CSU Fresno and Northridge respectively; Brianna Bryant (So Cal) and Kitona Offord (Texas) our athletic, talented incoming freshman that will compete for the middle hitter/blocker positions; Jenna Tiller (frosh, Utah) has tons of potential in the front row at all three positions; Leta Pickett (frosh, Texas) will anchor down the right side at the net, and will make an immediate impact in our program as a freshman; and Krystal Robinson (frosh, San Diego) and Rachel Vetterlein (frosh, Sacramento) both are excellent athletes that will challenge for positions as incoming freshman. Community college transfers Leslie Ray, Ysabel Zulueta and Kayla Woods will all bring experience and maturity to a very young team.

Cross Country: Men: Erik Rodriguez and Joe Castro; Women: Megan McDaniel, Christi Gonzalez and Nastassia Hamor.

5) Affect of moving into NCAA DII?

Men's Soccer: Being in the CCAA is great. It is an extremely competitive conference, one of the strongest in the country. It will take some time to develop to the level of play, but we are very excited to be competing against such high level competition.

Women's Soccer: They already have been affected by the move to Division II and the effect has been all positive. The players feel the change in attitude about athletics and the strong support from President Mo, VP Shawn Bibb, AD Debby DeAngelis and the entire administration.

I think the student-body will take more pride in athletics at CSEB and I sense a much stronger "Pioneer Pride" among the athletes. It is a treat to have the resources and support to make the transition to Division II and I think our athletes will take advantage of the situation they are in to take a part in this transition. When they step on the field, they will be proud of the name they are wearing on the front of their jersey.

Volleyball: I believe that the move to NCAA DII into the most competitive DII volleyball conference in the country will be a tremendous challenge, one that I have looked forward to for a long time. It will take a year or two to challenge the elite teams in the conference, but I have very high expectations for my volleyball program and our athletic program. The university has made a tremendous commitment to athletics, and I am confident CSU East Bay will become a prime time player in NCAA D2 athletics for years to come.

Cross Country: High schools still don't know we have scholarship money. The affect won't help immediately, but down the road, it should help us out.

6) How to improve on last year?

Men's Soccer: Last year the team went 5-10-3 and looks to improve from last year by the additions of signees for this season.

Women's Soccer: The team's record last year was 10-8-1. I think this team will be a stronger, more athletic, more technical team; but we are also now playing against better players in the CCAA. As with any season, you want to finish with a winning record.

This year because we are not competing for post season competition, the team will be playing for pride. This past spring when we played against CCAA competition there was definitely a fight and determination to prove ourselves as a competitive team capable of winning games. I expect this group to be very close, have an excellent work ethic and be a team that I am proud to coach.

Volleyball: Our record last season was 29-5. We will not improve on that record. Losing the two best players to graduation (Randolph and Paris) will make this upcoming season even more of a challenge, but I am confident and excited that our young team will grow leaps and bounds throughout the fall and the future of CSU East Bay volleyball will be very special.

Cross Country: Last year in Cal Pac both the women and men fared well, with the women winning the title and the men finishing second. This year, in CCAA it will be a whole new ball game. The top three teams in the division are nationally ranked, making it tough. It will take a while to get to that level, and we'll have to expand our recruiting.

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