Breakout performances save Senior Night for volleyball team


Ruuna Morisawa/The Runner

Rafa Bonifacio waits for the ball in the game at the Icardo Center on Nov. 11.

Dustin Tompkins, Sports Reporter

  The CSU Bakersfield volleyball team took the court at the Icardo Center on Monday, Nov. 11 to play University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. This night was special not only because it was on Veteran’s Day, but it was also Senior Night for the program. 

  The four players being recognized on Senior Night celebrated the end of their collegiate journey with the sport. Middle blocker Ally Barber, outside hitter Rafa Bonifacio, setter Sidney Wicks, and libero Hannah Manzanares were honored before the match. They were able to be with their parents during this moment, which made it even more memorable for the players.       

  Bonifacio is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, so the team played a video recorded by her mother back home wishing her luck. In the video, her mother was wearing a lot of medals, presumably Rafa’s from before her journey to the United States. It was a heartfelt moment that the whole arena was able to be a part of. 

  After the ceremony, the squad began the first set. They trailed early and almost rallied for the comeback, but could not succeed. 

  The Roadrunners went down early again in the second set and managed to bring the deficit to 23-20. Instead of giving up the easy two points, the team was able to take the lead and win the set 27-25. 

  The ‘Runners had another slow start to the third set, trailing 14-7. Another comeback seemed possible, but they would eventually lose a heartbreaking set, losing 27-25. 

  The team was backed into a corner. They needed to win the last two sets to achieve a victory. The fourth set began with a strong start. The score was 18-14, but the team went on a 7-4 run, and eventually won the set by a decisive margin of 25-18. 

  It all came down to the final set. The teams were tied with two sets each and the first team to 15 points wins. The UTRGV Vaqueros seemed to have been losing energy because they appeared to be playing much better early in the match. The Runners dominated the last set, and with a final score of 15-5, they were able to secure the victory on Senior Night. 

  A few notable performances from the game helped them succeed. One came from Brooke Boiseau, who set a personal record on the night with 22 kills. Sidney Wicks had 112 sets, and Rafa Bonifacio set a school record for most digs in a game with 39.  

  This was a big win for the team, who were able to enjoy this moment of victory. For the departing seniors, it was a poignant win. 

  Wicks says that leaving the team is sad because CSUB volleyball has been her home for five years. Her most memorable moment over that time was winning the WAC tournament in 2017. She has her sights on winning the WAC championships this year as well. 

  Manzanares learned a lot both on and off the court during her time with the program. When asked about what she will miss most leaving the team she said, “It’s the grind. The athlete life. I will miss my couches and teammates as well. You gain a lot of sisters over the years.” She also stated that the team won by sticking to the game plan and being relentless. 

  Barber is sad to leave the program as well. When asked about how much discipline played a role in their big win, she said, “Absolutely. The most disciplined team always win.” The piece of advice she would like to leave behind is that one is always playing for something bigger than themselves. Her most memorable moments were winning with her team“It’s games like tonight we will always remember,” said Barber. 

  This was an epic win for the women’s volleyball program. Coach Melo and the team hope to carry this momentum with them for their final games 

  There will be no more home matches for volleyball for the remainder of the season; however, the ‘Runners will be heading to Grand Canyon University for their last match on Nov. 16. After, they will be going to Orem, Utah for the WAC championships that will start Nov. 21 and finish Nov. 23.