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Seitz? Seda? Wiesner? Any names ring a bell? If you’ve paid any attention to high school volleyball in the Redwood Empire, they should.

This is just a small example of the women who have been playing volleyball at an elite level in Sonoma County over the past few years. Seitz, Seda and the Wiesner sisters are only four of seven women who graduated from Sonoma County high schools and continued their volleyball careers at Sonoma State University. The chemistry these women built in their high school playing days has led to several championship banners being raised at Sonoma State.

Calan Seitz, Courtney Seda, Lexi Mudd and the Wiesner sisters — Baelei and Caiti — are all graduates of the Maria Carrillo volleyball program. Emily Papale attended Cardinal Newman and Kayten Mak graduated from Sonoma Valley. Many earned All-Empire honors in high school while also winning league titles. All of them are now teammates at Sonoma State.

These local players have played big roles in helping the Seawolves to a successful season. The team wraps up its regular-season schedule on the road this weekend with a match Friday against 14th-ranked Cal State San Bernardino and Saturday at Cal Poly Pomona. Next week they’ll be playing in the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament in San Bernardino.

At 12-4 in league play and 14-9 overall, Sonoma State goes into the final weekend in second place in the CCAA North Division, a game behind Chico State.

Sonoma State volleyball coach and reigning CCAA volleyball coach of the year Bear Grassl has a longstanding professional relationship with Carrillo volleyball coach Ally Deal, and that has created a pipeline to Grassl’s program. Deal, a Carrillo graduate who played volleyball for Grassl at Sonoma State, now coaches alongside Grassl for the Empire Volleyball Club.

“Bear was always a coach of mine — now he has turned into a really close friend,” Deal said. “I consider him a great mentor.”

Deal said Grassl gets the opportunity to not only coach but also watch many of the girls from this area grow up on the volleyball court through the Empire club.

Sonoma State junior setter Calan Seitz says comfortability is a key reason for the easy shift into Grassl’s program.

“He has a lot of the same coaching styles as our high school coach Deal, and with him coaching at Empire, we already have a good idea of who he is,” Seitz said. “It’s an easy transition.”

Deal gives a lot of credit to a winning culture built around the Sonoma State and Maria Carillo volleyball programs as to why SSU is an attractive destination for local volleyball players.

She said that many local players grow up watching the Sonoma State team play.

“You get to see firsthand how competitive, exciting and successful of a program Sonoma State has, and when you’re a little girl it’s really exciting to think that one day that could be you,” she said.

Deal believes the tight-knit Maria Carrillo and Empire volleyball family has built a path of comfortability and success from local schools to Sonoma State.

“The Sonoma County volleyball community is very close and supportive that even if the girls don’t play together, they know who the other big-time players are and the younger girls really look up to them,” she said. “They feel so comfortable having the same community support them through high school and college.”

The Sonoma County women on the Seawolves’ roster are not there just to add a little bit of local flavor — they are big contributors. Seitz, Caiti Wiesner and Papale are three of the top four women leading the team in points. Caiti Wiesner and Seitz are second and third on the team in kills and Seda leads the team in assists.

“Knowing each other’s game has an impact on how we play. It’s really huge for the passers and setters knowing where everyone is going to be on the court,” Seitz said.

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