In just its third season in the conference, the Cal State East Bay volleyball team was tabbed to finish fifth in the CCAA by coaches in the annual preseason poll. The Pioneers are coming off a 2010 campaign that saw them tie for second place after being picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll. Cal State San Bernardino, which captured the conference and NCAA Division II Pacific Region titles last year, was tabbed to repeat as CCAA champions.
Cal State East Bay collected 84 points after finishing with a 20-7 overall mark and a 15-7 record in conference play last year. Head Coach Jim Spagle was named CCAA Coach of the Year in 2010 after guiding the Pioneers to the Nanook Classic Tournament title and a spot in the AVCA Division II Coaches Poll for the first time in program history, while notching his 14th 20-win season in 15 years at the helm. A year after finishing seventh in the CCAA, East Bay defeated three nationally ranked teams and was the only team to defeat the Coyotes in conference play.
After losing eight seniors in 2010, the Pioneers will look to a revamped roster to build on last year's success. An unprecedented 14 newcomers are set to join the team, including 11 community college and four-year transfers. The roster of new faces includes three AVCA community college All-Americans, a two-time NJCAA participant and an All-State and All-Section true freshman. That impressive group joins a small group of returners that includes sophomore and leading hitter Katie Allen and junior Kitona Offord, who led the Pioneers in blocking in 2010.
Cal State San Bernardino was a unanimous selection to win its sixth consecutive CCAA title, earning 11 first-place votes and the maximum 121 points. The Coyotes return a pair of All-Americans and AVCA National Player of the Year Samantha Middleborn from their squad that went 28-2 overall and 21-1 in league play last year. The coaches tabbed UC San Diego to again finish second after the Tritons tied with the Pioneers as the runner-up in 2010.
Sonoma State earned 95 points to finish third in the poll, while Cal State LA finished just five points ahead of the Pioneers to finish fourth. Nearly 20 points behind East Bay, Chico State was tabbed to finish sixth with 68 points. Cal State Monterey Bay and San Francisco State tied for seventh in the poll with 54 points, while Cal Poly Pomona's 45 points put it in ninth place. Cal State Stanislaus, Humboldt State and Cal State Dominguez Hills rounded out the poll in 10th, 11th and 12th, respectively.
Now eligible for conference and NCAA championships in Division II, Cal State East Bay kicks off the season in just three weeks, when it travels to Humboldt State's tournament. The Pioneers will meet Academy of Art and Notre Dame de Namur on Sept. 2 and Central Washington and St. Martin's on Sept. 3 in Arcata to open the campaign. East Bay will then open the home slate and league play on Sept. 9 and 10, when it plays host to the Golden Eagles and Toros at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Gym.