By David Pendleton, March 14, 2023
The Broncos volleyball team ended the season with an impressive 24-6 record, becoming California Collegiate Athletic Association Champions for the first time in program history and earning multiple players All-CCAA Honors.
Both junior opposite side hitter Daisy Duke and sophomore setter Caitie Mueller earned All-CCAA first team honors, with team captain and junior middle blocker Kaitlan Tucker and outside hitter Madison Novak getting selected to the All-CCAA second team.
Novak, starting for the first time, said her successful season could not have been possible without the work ethic she had to put in during the offseason.
“A big thing for me is just always putting in the work and proving to my coach, even when I wasn’t playing, that I was going to come in every single day and work my hardest,” said Novak.
Tucker attributed her personal success and winning All-CCAA honors to the team’s overall support.
“It’s a really great honor,” said Tucker. “To get recognition is awesome, but I think it’s also a complement to our team. It shows the work we’ve been doing at practice and just to see it all come to fruition.”
Head coach Traci Dahl spoke highly of the team’s performance this past year, stating that the strong culture within the team helped pave the way for a successful season.
“The commitment level on the whole entire team’s part, the coaching staff’s part, was just impeccable,” said Dahl. “Our players are very coachable, they are eager to learn, they want feedback, and I think that’s half the battle.”
The team had faced some challenges midway through the season, losing to Cal State San Bernardino twice in a row when almost half the team could not play due to illness.
“That whole entire month of practice, we were down nine players,” said Dahl. “So not only are those players not getting the workout they need, but the players that are getting the workout they need are doing double time.”
The perseverance and better health of the team benefited them the most in the latter part of the season going into the CCAA Championship.
“Our whole team became healthy, and it’s almost like we were back from where we were in August but at the end of October,” said Dahl.
In the finals of the CCAA Championship, the Broncos defeated Sonoma State in the fifth set after Sonoma came back from being down two sets.
Tucker, who led the team with 134 blocks this past season, said she believed the strong mentality and maturity of the team helped them overcome a two-set sweep during the most crucial moment of their season.
“Everyone was just extremely locked in and doing their jobs,” said Tucker. “We had our serving specialist who got us on a roll with aces, which was a huge momentum.”
Novak noted the team’s bond throughout the whole season played a significant role in the overall performance that led to a championship.
“Everybody was open to communication,” said Novak. “We all had so much respect for each other, and we all had a similar mindset of ‘We’re going to do this, so we need to do it together.’”
After winning the CCAA Tournament, the Broncos’ season ended in the NCAA West Region Semifinal against the Chaminade Silverswords, losing 0-3.
The Broncos head into the off-season retaining most of their players with the hope to improve and grow with tournaments in the spring.
“Middle attacks come first, because that’s a big focus right now,” said Dahl. “We have two setters on our team that can attack, so that’s an arsenal we have in our back pocket that we really didn’t get the chance to show last year.”
Looking toward the 2023 season, Novak stated this team is ready to win the NCAA Championship.
“We’re coming for more,” said Novak. “We’re hungry for more, we want to win again, the tournament and conference.”
Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics
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