Cal State Monterey Bay volleyball coach Jody Garry says this year’s squad is “not afraid to lose.” As the 2010 season continues, it is very clear they aren’t afraid to win, either.

The Otters piled up a 10-2 record by early October, earning a no. 21 national ranking and demonstrating the chemistry that Garry strives for.

“We’re playing as a team and not as six individuals on the court,” said junior Rheann Fall, an outside hitter from Elk Grove, who on Sept. 21 was named NCAA Division II National Player of the Week by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

Fall’s strong performance in the season’s opening weeks was capped by her school-record 29 kills in the Otters’ thrilling 3-2 victory over No. 11-ranked UC San Diego. A kill is a spiked shot that is not returned by the other team, resulting in a point.

Even with the Otters’ strong start this season, Garry said she’s equally excited about the team’s future, thanks to a strong recruiting effort that brought in four promising freshmen, including three from the Monterey-San Jose region.

“Yes, we’re going to do well this year,” she said, reflecting back on last year’s 13-19 record. “But we’re going to get better and better and better. It’s not a quick fix. I’m not a quick fix coach.”

Garry credits the success of CSUMB volleyball camps, including free Youth Otter Clinics this spring for youngsters in eighth grade and under, paid for with grant funds.

Through the camps, the recruits had a chance to meet her and the returning players, as well as spend time on campus.

“They knew me; they knew my program,” said Garry, who is now in her fourth season at CSUMB. “They assimilated so well. The key is to have that relationship.”

The Otters can’t match most conference opponents in size or strength, she said, so they have to be smarter.

“They’re not the biggest, they’re not the fastest,” Garry said. “They’re just kids who are willing to put the work in.”