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Junior middle blocker Kitona Offord joined Leslie Ray on the 2011 All-CCAA Second Team.

Two Pioneer volleyball players earn all-conference honors

  • November 21, 2011

Following a fifth-place showing in the league, Cal State East Bay volleyball players Kitona Offord and Leslie Ray were named to the 2011 All-CCAA Second Team for the 2011 season. The honors are a first for both players, who joined 24 other CCAA student-athletes on the all-conference teams.

A junior middle blocker, Offord led the Pioneers and finished third in the CCAA in hitting percentage, swinging at a .350 clip, which also ranked 33rd in Division II. Offord also paced the well-round East Bay offense, laying down 2.73 kills per set, while her 0.78 blocks per set ranked second on the team. During conference play, Offord was even better, averaging 2.76 kills per set and hitting .355 against CCAA opponents.

The Houston, Texas, native set a season-high with 17 kills in an early win over Central Washington and hit at a .483 clip to notch the second-best hitting percentage in a match for the Pioneers this season. Offord hit under .250 in a match just five times this season and notched a hitting percentage better than .350 in 17 matches, including a streak of six straight matches from Oct. 14-29. The honor is the second straight postseason award for Offord, who was a 2010 COBRA Magazine All-West Region Honorable Mention selection.

"In my opinion, Kitona was only second to Samantha Middleborn from an offensive standpoint," Head Coach Jim Spagle said. "With determined training during the spring, I'm confident she can be as good as anyone in the CCAA next season."

Ray, a senior libero, came back from spending last season on the bench with an injury to earn the starting libero spot for the Pioneers. After spending three years as a reserve or on the bench due to injury, Ray led the East Bay defense and served as a team captain. Ray finished her senior campaign as the CCAA leader in digs, averaging 5.43 per set to rank 18th in all of Division II in the category. Ray also finished fourth on the team in aces with 21 and third in assists.

Hailing from Long Beach, Ray was also a favorite for opponents’ serves, leading the team with 658 reception attempts and successfully returned the serve 94.7 percent of the time to finish second among the Pioneer back row players. Ray had her best match of the season against Humboldt State on Sept. 16, when she posted a season-high 32 digs and added four aces. Serving as further evidence of her impressive performance this season, Ray was also the only libero selected to either of the All-CCAA Teams. 

"Leslie was the top libero in the CCAA, without a doubt, in my mind," Spagle said. "Leslie was the quiet, poised leader of our team and patiently waited in the wings for two years before seizing her opportunity. I'm very thankful I had the opportunity to coach such a wonderful young woman."

The pair became the fourth and fifth East Bay volleyball players to collect All-CCAA honors after former Pioneers Roxanne Neely, Lauren Massa and Jit Athwal earned all-conference recognition in 2010. Since Cal State East Bay returned to Division II and joined the CCAA in 2009-10, it has had 15 student-athletes earn postseason recognition from the conference, including a pair of Freshman of the Year honorees.

Top-ranked Cal State San Bernardino and Sonoma State, both of which will compete in the 2011 NCAA West Regional this weekend, each had six players named to the all-conference teams and split the yearly awards. Reigning AVCA Division II National and West Region Player of the Year, Samantha Middleborn, collected her second straight CCAA MVP award for the Coyotes, while Head Coach Kim Cherniss was voted Coach of the Year by her peers for the fifth time. Sonoma State’s Regan Richert and Kelsey Hull took home the Freshman and Newcomer of the Year awards, respectively.

The Pioneers will lose only Ray to graduation after posting a 16-11 overall record and an 11-11 mark in CCAA play this season. East Bay returns all three of its top hitters in Offord, Nicole Boyle and Katie Allen, as well as fellow starters Samantha Bruno and Morgan Hirzel for the 2012 campaign.

"Both Katie Allen and Nicole Boyle were also worthy of All-CCAA honors and I expect them both to challenge for a spot on the first team next season," Spagle said. 

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