This past weekend's matches against some of the top CCAA teams figured to be a test for coach Kim Cherniss' CSUSB Coyotes.
Judging by the end results Saturday afternoon, one could say they passed in impressive style.
Junior Danielle Newcombe's match-high 13 kills and a whopping 10 block assists from freshman Brenna McIntosh helped the Coyotes dominate No. 22 Sonoma State 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 25-15) on Saturday afternoon.
CSUSB (10-6 overall, 7-1 CCAA) climbed into a first-place tie with UC San Diego as the two teams gear up for top honors in the conference Wednesday night at Coussoulis. UCSD faced San Francisco State later Saturday night.
The Coyotes earned their seventh straight victory by making key plays down the stretch in the first two sets, then gaining a lead they never relinquished in the final set for their 33rd consecutive victory over the Seawolves (11-6, 5-4).
The opening set featured 15 ties with both teams fighting for momentum.
Tied at 23-23 and CSUSB serving, freshman Alexandra Torline came up from her serving position and earned a kill from setter Camille Smith. On the next play, Torline fired off a service ace for the set winner.
The second set was as tight as the first with 10 ties and six lead changes.
Torline had six kills in the set and McIntosh had four block assists as CSUSB seemed to be in contol after block assists from Torline and McIntosh put the Coyotes up 15-11. They grabbed a five-point lead at 22-17 after blocks from McIntosh and Newcombe.
But SSU rallied and got to within a point on a service ace that forced a Coyotes' timeout.
After the break, the set went back-and-forth before SSU took a 25-24 lead on an attack error from Torline.
But the freshman quickly redeemed herself with a kill to tie the set. She added another and fellow freshman Ashley Solis added another for the win at 27-25.
The Coyotes gained the lead from the get-go in the third and never trailed in a set that saw CSUSB earn a match-best .290 attack percentage (13 kills/4 errors/31 attacks).
Leading the way for the Coyotes at the point of attack was Smith with 33 assists and 10 digs. Sophomore Arielle McCullough had 16 digs. Torline had seven blocks.
Kelsey Hull led the Seawolves, who have lost three straight, with 11 kills.