The Cal State Bakersfield volleyball team is going back to the NCAA Tournament.
The Roadrunners won a spirited Western Athletic Conference championship match over University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley 3-1 (25-27, 25-18, 30-28, 25-18).
It was an intense title tilt, with the conference tournament held in Edinburg, Texas. In turn, UTRGV had a serious homecourt advantage over the Roadrunners, yet CSUB prevailed.
“I don’t know if it’s a dream or real life,” CSUB senior outside hitter Aleksandra Djordjevic said on the WAC livestream broadcast following the match. “But we did it.”
Djordjevic would later add: “Every athlete, the main goal is to win something like this. I am so proud.”
CSUB certainly ran the tournament gauntlet to grab the trophy.
After topping Seattle 3-0 in the opening round, the No. 4-seeded Roadrunners took on top-seeded New Mexico State, a team that swept CSUB in Bakersfield last weekend. It did not matter, however, as the Roadrunners beat NMSU 3-1 (29-27, 21-25, 26-24, 25-21) to move onto the title round.
That set up a memorable championship, with the highlight coming on CSUB’s 30-28 win in Game 3. It was back-and-forth, with the Roadrunners eventually pulling out the victory on the UTRGV home floor.
“It’s amazing. I couldn’t be more proud,” said head coach Giovana Melo. “It’s a just a group that knew what it wanted from the beginning and fought through it the entire tournament.”
Melo said the team overcame a number of hurdles this year, and now holds a 21-13 record on the season.
“We’ve had some injuries, we’ve had players change positions. We’ve been through a lot this year,” Melo said. “It means a lot to me because of them.”
Senior blocker Sydney Haynes led the Roadrunners on Saturday with 19 kills. Djordjevic had 14 kills, 12 digs and four blocks. Mattison Degarmo had 12 kills while Desiree Sukhov had 10 kills and four service aces.
Fabiana Andrade, Haynes and Djordjevic made the WAC All-Tournament team.
Roadrunners volleyball qualified for its first NCAA Tournament in 2014.
The NCAA selection show is scheduled for next Sunday, while the first round of the tournament tips off Nov. 30.