Volleyball digs way into playoffs

Austin Lane, Senior Sports Reporter

The CWU Volleyball team sneaked into the NCAA Division II West Region playoffs this year as the number eight seed. They will take on California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), the number one seed in the regional tournament. CSUSB finished the season undefeated, at 27-0. 

CWU finished their regular season with a record of 18-10. They finished 13-7 in GNAC conference play, tying Simon Fraser University (SFU), who also finished 13-7. Despite finishing with the same record, CWU beat SFU, 3-0, in the final match of the regular season. This win played a big factor in the selection process for the playoffs. The Wildcats dominated SFU on senior night and the NCAA took notice. 

CSUSB has only gone to a fifth set in one match this whole season, against California State University, Los Angeles in the California Collegiate Athletic Association championship match. Out of their 27 wins, 20 of them have come on a 3-0 sweep. The Coyotes are also recognized at a national level, currently sitting at number one in the country on the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II rankings.

CWU senior libero Kyla Morgan’s career is coming to an end soon at CWU. Right now, Morgan sits at 2,333 career digs, good enough for first place in school history and third place in GNAC history. Morgan is excited to continue her college career, even if it may be for one more game.

“I’m super pumped to play San Bernardino,” Morgan said. “We definitely are the underdog, but I’m excited for the next week for the team to continue to work on things and get better to bring everything we can to Bernardino.”

This season is the eighth straight season the Wildcats have made it to the Division II West Regionals. Senior setter Gabrielle Aihara was excited and was “smiling cheek to cheek” when she and the rest of the team learned they made it into the tournament.

“I just felt this wave of relief and excitement that our season isn’t done yet, because I can’t imagine being done already,” Aihara said.

Aihara said she loves that the eight seed is considered the underdog because it can be used to the Wildcats’ advantage. She said it motivates everybody on the team to go for the win even more.

Redshirt senior middle blocker Bridgette Webb said the team is focusing on improving skillwise and connecting in certain areas while gameplanning for San Bernardino in regards to getting good matchups on the court.

The Wildcats take on CSUSB on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. The match is on CSUSB’s home court in San Bernardino, California. The winner of the West Region advances to the Elite 8 round in Denver, Colorado.