Bear Cubs advance in state JC volleyball tournament


As far as postseason tune-ups go, Tuesday night’s 3-0 victory by the No. 3 Santa Rosa Junior College women’s volleyball team over No. 14 Yuba College went as scripted, with the Bear Cubs in firm control throughout in a match that took slightly less than an hour.

The first-round win by the Bear Cubs (24-2) in the California Community Colleges NorCal Regional Championships was relatively easy, 25-16, 25-10, 25-13, punctuated by strong finishing runs — 17-7 in the first game, and 15-5 in the second and third games.

The Bear Cubs, who won the Big Eight Conference with a 14-0 record, were much taller on the frontline and benefitted from a deeper bench (14 players to 10) than the Bay Valley Conference champion Forty-Niners (23-2).

“We were definitely bigger and deeper than Yuba,” Santa Rosa coach Kelly Wood said. “They were a solid team but we were better in most areas.”

The victory is the first step in a quest by SRJC to win the state title. The Bear Cubs, currently ranked No. 4 in the state and No. 3 in NorCal, have been runner-up to Los Angeles-Pierce Collge in the state championship game the past two seasons.

“We are on a mission. We have six sophomores and four of them are in their third year due to redshirting,” Wood said. “They have been a part of our two runner-up seasons, and that provides motivation.”
In order for Santa Rosa to get back to the state finals, it has to finish first or second in the NorCal Regionals among a pool of 16 schools. On Saturday, the Bear Cubs will host the winner of Tuesday night’s No. 6 Porterville-No. 11 Monterey Peninsula first-round game.

“Whoever we face, we will be ready,” Wood said. “One of the focuses of this team is to stay in the moment and not worry about the next game.”

One area of concern for Wood was erratic serving by the usually solid-serving Bear Cubs.

“I don’t feel like tonight we played our best volleyball of the season. Our serving was not very good and we played a little bit shaky at times,” Wood said. “Our girls are confident but they didn’t play that way. They were a little bit nervous. We will have to step it up on Saturday.”

Even with Santa Rosa’s serving problems, Yuba coach Greg Chapman said the Bear Cubs played as expected.

“Santa Rosa is very consistent and we knew that coming in,” he said.

They missed a few serves early and that was nice for us. They corrected their serves late in the game. Santa Rosa will go far (in the NorCal tournament). I would be surprised if they don<NO><NO1>’t make the final four (state finals).”

nta Rosa was led by Kristyn Casalino with 10 kills and four blocks, Kaitlin Dunaway with nine kills and seven digs, Olivia Urban with 10 kills, and Allison Copp with 23 assists.

Yuba was led by Brenna McDonald with vie kills and four digs and Samantha Foster with 11 assists.