Just glancing at Dixie (Utah) State University’s softball roster might be one clue on just how much influence that was in landing a onetime star player to its coaching staff.
Sahvanna Jaquish, who came within an eyelash of making the U.S. Olympic team after a brilliant career at Louisiana State University, shifted her role as an assistant coach at NCAA Division III University of La Verne to the St. George, Utah-based campus.
Randy Simkins, the Trailblazers’ head coach, offered plenty of significant praise in landing Jaquish, a Highland product who played four sensational seasons at Redlands East Valley High School.
Dixie State, a onetime junior college program, is currently transitioning from NCAA Division II status to a Division I combatant. Jaquish comes in as the school loses key assistants Justin Buchanan and Maggie Christianson.
That, said Simkins, “left a big hole.”
It also left an opening on the coaching staff. Jaquish, who knows the SoCal area well for recruiting purposes, landed the spot.
It’s exciting, said Simkins, “to add a coach of Sahvanna’s caliber to our coaching staff. Her experience as a player at the Division I and professional levels will provide tremendous knowledge and perspective to our program.”
Jaquish said, “I’m honored to be a part of a culture that already knows how to win on and off the field.”
That program has a stunning collection of players from major areas that produce top-flight players ⎯ Hannah Hughbanks from Chino Hills Ayala, Ashley Jones from Phoenix Basha High, Maile Maletta from softball-rich Norco High, Lindsay Altfillish from Aliso Niguel and Shea Clements from Las Vegas Shadow Ridge, among others.
Jaquish’s background as a player speaks for itself:
• Four All-CIF seasons at REV.
• A four-time NCAA All-American while playing catcher at third base at LSU, a first for the high-powered program.
• While at the Baton Rouge campus, Jaquish set plenty of records while launching the Lady Tigers deep into the College World Series.
• Playing for Team USA while a top draft selection in the National Fastpitch Pro League.
• Last summer, Jaquish was on the brink of getting selected for Team USA’s Olympic roster. Like another former REV star, volleyball’s Krista Vansant in 2016, she made it to the final cut.
• During her final appearance on Team USA, she played on the gold medal-winning squad at the SBSC World Championship, hitting two home runs and knocking in six runs.
• As for Dixie State, the Trailblazers were 19-7 before its season shut down due to COVID-19.
Between 2017 and 2019, Dixie State won 42 games each season ⎯ 126-37 in that span ⎯ while playing deep into the NCAA Division II tournament.
Alexis Cardoza, a junior outside hitter from Chino Hills, joined a burgeoning list of Cal State San Bernardino athletes that were named Female Athlete of the Year in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
Cardoza, who was unanimously tabbed NCAA Division II Player of the Year, became the fifth Lady Coyote athlete ⎯ each a volleyball player ⎯ to win CCAA honors.
“I am elated,” said Cardoza, “to represent the CCAA as Female Athlete of the Year.”
There are 13 CCAA schools that select the top male and female athletes. The CCAA’s top male athlete was Cal State Los Angeles goalkeeper Alexander Brems, a player that Coyote players should know well.
He was a big reason why the Golden Eagles were able to reach the NCAA Division II championship match, surpassing the Coyotes in the West Region finals.
In a Dec. 7 playoff showdown in Los Angeles, Brehms stopped seven shots on goal in a 2-0 Golden Eagles’ triumph.
As for Cardoza, her junior season concluded with a swarth of post-season awards, ranging from CCAA Volleyball Player of the Year to NCAA Division II All-American to national American Volleyball Coaches Association Player of the Year honors and, finally, top honors among all female athletes in her conference.
She may not get the chance to play a senior season.
CCAA officials have shut down the 2020 fall sports season, which means the Lady Coyotes’ 33-0, national championship season may wind up being the champion over a two-year surge.
It took a fully explosive roster to gain that distinction, which included Cardoza, whose presence ever since her frosh season has helped lead Cal State.
“With so many student-athletes,” said Cardoza, “I consider this a huge honor and accomplishment.”
Cardoza joins previous Cal State volleyballers Kim Morohunfola (2003-04), Brianna Harris (2004-05), Jessica Granados (2008-09) and Samantha Middleborn (2011-12) as CCAA’s top female athletes.
Middleborn, a two-time national Player of the Year, along with Harris were also AVCA selections.