CSUB looks to repeat as WAC champs


CSUB’s volleyball team finished last season 17-16 on its way to being the first sports team to win the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. As of Sept. 9, the Roadrunners have started the season 1-6. The Runner Archives

Esteban Ramirez


It was a historic run for the 2014 CSU Bakersfield volleyball team as it became the first sports team to win a Western Athletic Conference Tournament.

However, with a crop of new players, CSUB Director of Volleyball Giovana Melo feels that this year’s team has ways to go before they can even think about repeating as WAC champions this season.

“We’re pretty young in the sense of being new to the program and new to the system that we play, so we still haven’t played as a team or together in a way that we can win games,” Melo said. “We are still trying to figure things out.”

Melo said that trying to repeat as WAC champions is a big motivator for this year, but she also feels that right now they are just trying to improve with each game.

“We are just trying to figure things out,  just trying to be better as a team and be better player before we can think about that right now,” she said. “It’s a little early for us to think about. Obviously, it’s in the back of our minds but we are nowhere near where we need to be to compete for a title.”

As of Sept. 9, the Roadrunners (1-6) have struggled to start the season. They lost their first six matches to start the year, but they bounced back at Alabama State University by beating them 3-1 on Sept. 5. The next game for CSUB will be at the University of Hawai’i on Sept. 18.

Last year, CSUB had its up and downs, but once they made it to the WAC Tournament, the Roadrunners were able to peak at the right time.

CSUB was able to sweep No. 6 seed University of Texas-Pan American (25-8, 25-16, 25-18) in the first round. They followed with a second-round victory against second-seeded New Mexico State University (21-25, 26-24, 26-24, 25-20). Then in the championship, the Roadrunners swept fifth-seeded Seattle University (25-21, 25-22, 25-17).

After winning the WAC Tournament and earning an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament, the Roadrunners played the number one seed Stanford University in the first round. The Roadrunners lost to the Cardinal (21-25, 21-25, 18-25), but kept it close throughout.

Some of the key returners are redshirt-junior Sophie Flemion, who last year was a defensive specialist but this year she is also a setter; senior setter Luiza Martins, who led the team with 1,307 assists last year and was an All-WAC player; senior outside hitter Kelsee Sawyer, who had 368 kills; redshirt-sophomore middle blocker Sydney Haynes, who finished with 203 kills and senior opposite Sara Little, who had 49 kills last year.

Melo said that a key newcomer this year is senior outside hitter Edithza Urias, who played for Bakersfield College in 2012-2013 going Dixie State University (St. George, Utah) for a year.

Melo said that the team’s strengths are that they are more physical than last year and they have more options coming off the bench. She also added that they need to improve on serving and passing.

“I think we have a long way to go because of so many newcomers we have to learn so many things,” she said. “I want them to continue to get better, continue to learn the system we play and, hopefully, we can repeat the same thing of peaking at the right time.”

Martins said that this team has the potential to have a great season.

“We have a good team and a lot of talent that at the end of the season, we can do a great job,” she said. “We need to get together and play as a team. I think we a really good team outside of the court, but I just think we are missing a little something right now inside the court and that’s our main goal to become a team.”

Melo said that people can expect this year’s team to play with heart and will compete with teams.

“I think there’s a lot of frustration going on right now because of all the changes we are making,” she said. “I think, eventually, when the team figures it out, we are going to be a team that plays with a lot of passion and a lot of energy.”