SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Cosumnes River Hawks and their Head Coach Cassie Baxter tipoff the 2015 season today on the road against Simpson University hosted by Alameda as part of the Sixth Annual Alameda Classic . The match is the first of three on the road before the Hawks return for their first home game of the season.

For their 2015 season, the Hawks are starting with a bigger roster than they had in the previous season, as Baxter said that she spent the offseason with Assistant Coach Molly Hanrahan recruiting.

"My assistant Molly and I recruited heavily over the off-season and brought in a full team of 15 girls," Baxter said. "Our level has stepped up tremendously from last year's competition and we're very excited for the season."

The team carries 15 players this season, four of them being returning sophomores. Outside hitter Paige Castleberry, defensive specialist Justice Cooper, and middle blockers Mercedes Dangerfield and Tierra Collier are those returning sophomores. Caite Thompson who red shirted last season returns to the team as a freshman outside hitter, while Jessica Winship, an outside hitter last season, will red shirt for the season.

"I'm excited mostly that we have this many girls out, because last year it was a struggle just to find players and this year we have about 18 girls and they're all just full of energy and ready to go," Castleberry said.

The team went 2-24 last season, but Coach Baxter said they aren't carrying anything over from the last season. After an off-season of heavy recruiting and earlier conditioning, Baxter said this feels like her first official season, after inheriting the program last season, and this is a team she feels that she wants to put out on the field.

As part of the much earlier off-season conditioning, Castleberry said that they worked heavily on speed and agility alongside time spent in the weight room so that they could work on all aspects in training, including cardiovascular and strength.

"We started in June, conditioning every day," freshman middle blocker Hannah Norris said. "We did a summer class with others, including our team, and we were playing games, scrimmaging, and drills. Then we did conditioning after our summer class and then we did trials, and now we're here."

The Hawks will play host to Los Medanos and Ohlone Colleges on Sept. 4 for their first home game; with matches at 2 pm and 6 pm. Admission is free for CRC students with ID, with $6 general admission.  Discounted admission is available for seniors, children and visiting students with ID.