Posted By Press Democrat Staff Writer Michael Coit:
Earning a fourth straight invitation to the NCAA women’s volleyball championships, Sonoma State aims to win its first tournament match today with a strong squad ranked third in the West.
Sonoma State takes on Hawaii Hilo at noon to open the eight-team NCAA Division II West Regional at Cal State San Bernardino, the top seed. Another conference rival, UC San Diego, is ranked second.
Playing some of their best volleyball when matches count the most, Sonoma State finished second in the California Collegiate Athletic Association and has moved up in the regional rankings. The Seawolves (21-6) are led by a handful of former Empire prep greats.
Topping the team in kills are outside hitters Keala Peterson and Ally Sather, both All-Conference players a year ago.
Peterson, from Analy High and UC Davis, and Sather, out of Maria Carrillo High, each hammered more than 300 kills on the season with Peterson recording 3.52 kills per set and Sather averaging 3.44 a set. A talented all-around player, Peterson bolstered the Seawolves on defense finishing third on the team in digs.
Setter Hayley Ross, from Petaluma High, led the conference with 11.14 assists per set and was one Sonoma State’s primary servers.
Anchoring the Seawolves defense is libero Taylor Krenwinkel, who led the team in digs at 4.42 per set, adding to her school record total. Krenwinkel also is an All-Conference pick.
Another key defender is Lindsay Lytle, among the team leaders in digs. She is from Analy High and played at the University of Rhode Island before joining Sonoma State.
On offense Sonoma State is outhitting its opponents and has the highest hitting percentage as a team in program history. The Seawolves also lead their opponents in every other statistical category, including kills, assists, service aces, digs, blocks and points.
Today’s opponent, Hawaii Hilo (15-6) finished third in the Pacific West Conference.
The Seawolves want more than another tournament appearance. Reaching the second round would be a start having lost first round matches each of the past three years.
The West Regional runs through Saturday. The winner moves on to the NCAA finals Dec. 1-3.