By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Aiming for another NCAA tournament appearance, Sonoma State women’s volleyball first must navigate the challenging CCAA where the Seawolves are picked to finish third.
Sonoma State trails nationally ranked Cal State San Bernardino and UC San Diego in the California Collegiate Athletic Association coaches’ poll.
Following the Seawolves in the coaches’ poll were Cal State Los Angeles, Chico State, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State East Bay, San Francisco State, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Monterey, Cal State Stanislaus, and Humboldt State.
Seven time defending conference champion San Bernardino is ranked 14th and San Diego 22nd in the American Volleyball Coaches Association NCAA Division II Top 25 preseason poll. Sonoma State is among teams receiving votes in the national rankings.
Do well in the CCAA, and Sonoma State could receive a sixth consecutive NCAA tournament bid.
The Seawolves went 22-9 with a 16-6 mark in CCAA play last season, finishing second in the conference. Sonoma State suffered an opening round loss to Western Washington in the NCAA west regional.
Replacing record setting All-American Ally Sather will be a challenge. Sonoma State also lost middle blocker Brooke Moore.
Back for Sonoma State are the top two returning scorers from a year ago. Both Caylie Seitz and Madelyn Densberger were All-CCAA selections as freshmen.
Seitz, an outside hitter from Maria Carrillo was second on the Seawolves in kills.
Densberger was fourth on the Seawolves in kills. Densberger, out of St. Helena High, is a versatile player. She also was second in blocks and one of the team’s primary servers and receivers a year ago.
Also back is former Empire prep great Hayley Ross. The senior setter from Petaluma High led Sonoma State in assists and was a top server.
Two time All-West Region selection Kelsey Hull, a junior, will share the outside hitting duties.
With six returning starters and 11 letter winners returning, coach Bear Grassl and the Seawolves are poised for another successful season.
Sonoma State opens the 2013 campaign Friday in the Coyote Classic at Cal State San Bernardino. The Seawolves play Fort Lewis and Harding on Friday and nationally-ranked Regis (13th) and Central Washington (24th) on Saturday. Conference play begins with Sonoma State hosting Cal State San Bernardino on Sept. 20.