By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Some of the west’s best college volleyball teams matchup in the Sonoma State tournament opening Friday.
The 2013 Seawolf Spike features eight teams competing over two days, a final test ahead of conference play.
Three teams — Sonoma State, Western Washington and San Francisco State — reached last season’s NCAA Division II tournament.
The other teams are: Cal State Stanislaus; Chico State; Dominican; Hawaii Pacific; and Montana State Billings.
Both Stanislaus and Chico have played in every Seawolf Spike back to the first tournament in 2006. Those squads and San Francisco State compete with SSU in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
Making a first tournament appearance is Hawaii Pacific. Also out of the Pac West Conference is Dominican.
Montana State Billings and Western Washington play in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
A much anticipated match is Sonoma State against Western Washington on Saturday. The Seawolves are ranked 24th and the Vikings 12th in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 national poll.
Western Washington ended Sonoma State’s season a year ago in the NCAA west regional.
Returning to the national tournament is Sonoma State’s aim again this season. The Seawolves have reached the NCAA tournament each of the past five years.
Off to a solid start, Sonoma State is 3-1 going into the Seawolf Spike.
Leading the Seawolves on offense are Caylie Seitz, a returning All-CCAA selection from Maria Carrillo high, and Kelsey Hull, a two time All-West Region pick out of Valley Springs.
Setting up the Sonoma State attack are Devin Shaver, out of Livermore, and Hayley Ross, from Petaluma high.
Anchoring the defense to keep Sonoma State in rallies has been Nicole Gragnola, out of Saratoga, and Madelyn Densberger, from St. Helena High. An All-CCAA pick last season, Densberger is a versatile player also among team leaders in kills and blocks.
The Seawolf Spike typically provides a good test for teams at the end of non-conference play. Four teams went 3-1 in last year’s tournament, including Sonoma State.
Sonoma State opens CCAA action at home with Cal State San Bernardino on Sept. 20 and UC San Diego on Sept. 21.
Sonoma State 2013 Seawolf Spike
Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Eight teams, 16 matches
Free admission most matches; $10-$2 for 7 p.m. contests both days
Friday: SSU vs. Dominican, 1:30 p.m.; SSU vs. Hawaii Pacific 7 p.m.
Saturday: SSU vs. Western Washington, 1:30 p.m.; SSU vs. Montana State Billings, 7 p.m.
For more information: sonomaseawolves.com