The men’s volleyball and women’s water polo teams at California Baptist University regularly compete against NCAA Division I schools, using the tough competition to elevate their level of play.
Although both teams have losing records, the games and sets have been close in score.
Since beginning the process of joining the NCAA Division II in 2011, CBU Athletics competed in its first year of eligibility for NCAA Championships last season. Although the majority of CBU’s teams compete on a level playing field, men’s volleyball and women’s water polo must regularly compete against Division I schools in their respective conferences.
The men’s volleyball team’s 5-13 record may be deceiving to a casual sports fan, but 12 of the 13 losses came from competitors ranked in the top 15 in the nation. Ohio State University; Brigham Young University; University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, Irvine, to name a few of their opponents.
Wes Schneider, head coach of the men’s volleyball team, said his team is always ready for the challenge.
“Those teams are part of our conference, which makes it exciting as well as very daunting,” Schneider said. “The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation has won 38 of 43 NCAA DI national championships. Every year, our conference is made up of at least eight of the top 15 teams in the country. In regards to preparation, it is really just about knowing your opponent, then going out and doing what we train to do. This year already, we have learned a lot. This gives us an opportunity to grow, both as a team and individuals.”
For the men’s volleyball team, their schedule does not get easier, even though they won their last two matches against University of California, Merced, and Holy Names University, moving their record to 5-13.
The 7-7 record possessed by the women’s water polo team can also be deceiving, as six of their seven losses have been to top–10–ranked schools such as the University of Southern California, UCLA and Arizona State University.
Jessica Castellano, sophomore communication studies major and 2-meter defense player on the women’s water polo team, said these games will affect the team.
“When we are getting ready to compete with top teams in the nation, we really have to prepare ourselves. We knew if we went in timid those games would be rough for everyone, but we really buckled down and ran toward the fear of their reputation and talent,” Castellano said. “It’s amazing how much we can grow from playing teams like USC and UCLA. Although the scoreboard doesn’t necessarily reflect how great of a game it was, our team competed and definitely made them work for their goals.”
As CBU continues to effectively garner more recognition, its athletes will have to continue to compete against Division I opponents.