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August 26, 2002

Fall sports season full of promise

Hornet volleyball hopes to find its way back to the NCAA tournament, while football is expecting another great showing from the team's sophomore quarterback. Men's soccer wants to repeat last year's regular-season success.

The cross country squads, meanwhile, see a promising year with the return of 23 runners. And the women's soccer team begins a new era under just its second head coach ever.

It's all part of the fall sports season at CSUS. Here's what to watch for:

Photo: Senior outside hitter Jayme Wright and the rest of the Hornet volleyball team begin their quest for a sixth-consecutive Big Sky Conference title this month. Their first home game is Sept. 12 vs. Butler at Hornet Gym.Football
Following a grueling spring practice the CSUS football team enters the 2002 season with new-found energy. The team returns 10 players on offense and is looking to build on lessons from last season.

"Going back to the fundamentals created one of the best spring practices we've ever had," said head coach John Volek. "We stressed the basics and helped our players become accountable for their actions on every play."

Leading the offense will be sophomore quarterback Ryan Leadingham. Last year, he passed for 17 touchdowns and a school-record 2,752 yards.

The defense will be guided by seniors Bilal Watkins and Park McAllister, and junior Camron Mbewa.

The team opens the season on the road Aug. 31 when it takes on Texas-El Paso. The first home game is Sept. 21 against Cal Poly.

Despite a 20-9 record and a Big Sky Conference regular season title, the CSUS volleyball team was denied its fifth-consecutive NCAA tournament appearance last season. The Hornets, who had reached the NCAA postseason tournament every year from 1996-2000, will look to be back at the tournament again in 2002.

The team will seek its sixth-consecutive Big Sky regular season title behind the strength of 10 returners, including four starters (junior setter Lisa Beauchene, junior middle hitter Kazmiera Imrie, junior defensive specialist Olivia Thomas and senior outside hitter Jayme Wright) who were each named all-conference last year. The team also welcomes three talented newcomers who could see substantial playing time throughout the season, according to head coach Debby Colberg.

Since joining the Big Sky in 1996, the Hornets have compiled a 77-16 record against conference competition and have not lost more than four Big Sky matches in a season.

Men's soccer
CSUS men's soccer earned its first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular-season title last year with a program-record mark of 4-1-2, but suffered an early defeat in the conference tournament.

With an off-season to reflect, head coach Michael Linenberger says the team will need to learn from last year's setback to take the next step in 2002.

"Our conference goal is to repeat as conference champions," Linenberger said. "We've got our work cut out for us, but our goal is to have the No. 1 seed. From there, we obviously we want to win the tournament and get our first NCAA tournament bid. We think that's a legitimate goal."

The team returns 12 starters, including four all-federation selections (senior defender Hjalti Kristjansson, junior forward David Fraser, junior midfielder Joel Rodriguez and sophomore defender Marcos Mercado) from last year's squad.

Women's soccer
A new era begins for CSUS women's soccer in 2002 as Karen Hanks becomes the second head coach in Hornet program history.

Hanks brings an impressive resume after establishing CSU Dominguez Hills as one of the top Division II teams in the nation.

"It's going to take a lot of building to get this program to where it should be and I have a lot of experience doing that," Hanks said. "I enjoy building something and seeing it be successful."

The Hornets return 11 starters including four all-Big Sky selections (senior forward Lisa Wrightsman, junior defender Amber Dragomir, junior midfielder Katie DeClercq and junior defender Stacey Rowell) from last year's squad.

Cross country
The CSUS cross country team returns 22 runners from last season's squad-13 women and nine men.

Junior Annette Corey returns to lead the women's squad while senior Cuco Chavez looks to repeat as the men's top runner.

Corey led her team in five of the team's six meets while finishing in the top 10 three times. She was also named Big Sky Runner of the Week during the year. Also returning to the squad will be Jennifer Burkhalter, Heather Clark, Tina Limon, Molly Peterson, and Christina Shamass.

Chavez placed first on the men's squad in three meets. Also returning to the squad will be Anthony Elwell, Stephen Gaitan, Robert McNeil, Jacob Mills, Michael Santarosa and Howard Story.


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