California Baptist University athletics had a stellar weekend on Sept. 25. As the fall season has continued, CBU sports teams have competed boldly against conference opponents in their last year of the transition towards NCAA Division-I status.
The CBU volleyball team opened conference competition against Chicago State University, starting the first of many matches against Western Athletic Conference foes. They were able to win the match dominantly, winning each of the first three sets to take the match.
“It was a really good win,” said Branden Higa, head coach of the CBU volleyball team. “Chicago State has become a really good team. They have a couple of the best players in the conference right now. To get a win against an opponent like that was huge.”
The CBU women’s soccer team also played their first conference game on Sept. 25. The team played Seattle University in Norco, winning the game 1-0. The game was dominated by underclassmen, with freshman Lauryn White getting one assist and Madison Sonerholm, sophomore biology major, scoring the game-winning goal.
“It was a very exciting win for us being our first conference home game,” Sonherholm said. “I think a big thing for our team is our bench. We always strive to be the loudest and most supportive teammates for each other no matter what the score looks like.”
Finally, the CBU men’s soccer team won their game against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on Sept. 25. During the conference opener, the team dominated the UNLV Rebels, with Bryan Iliohan, junior *WHAT* major, scoring all three goals for his career-first hat trick to help lead the Lancers to victory.
“The game against UNLV was a pretty tough away game because we knew that we lost here in overtime last season, but we also knew that if we worked hard, we could get a great result here,” said Iliohan. “We started good and we dominated the first half, and I even managed to score the first goal. As soon as the second half started UNLV showed us that they are still fighting to beat us and they pressed every single ball, and that overwhelmed us, so we didn’t start the second half that well. But we stood our man and didn’t let them score.”
The 2021-22 school year marks the final year of CBU’s transition into full Division I status. Starting next year, CBU athletic teams will be eligible to compete in conference postseason championships and to compete for spots in the different NCAA national championships. The CBU women’s soccer, men’s soccer and volleyball teams showed in their conference openers that they will be serious contenders in the WAC and beyond.