Five California high schools ranked among the nation's top 20 teams, including four in California's largest division, move into Northern and Southern California regional play needing three wins to reach the state's title games on Dec. 1.
All first-round games begin Tuesday, culminating with the state finals being held Dec. 1 on the campus of Concordia University in Irvine.
In Southern California's Regional Division I tournament, No. 14 Marymount (Los Angeles)
, No. 15 Redondo Union (Redondo Beach)
and No. 19 Torrey Pines (San Diego)
enter the next round of playoffs as heavy favorites.
Marymount (33-5) is the No. 1 seed and hosts Poway (25-10), while No. 2 seed Torrey Pines entertains 22-14 El Dorado (Placentia). Though seeded No. 3, Redondo visits 18-2 Palisades (Pacific Palisades).
Despite outstanding performances from frontline players Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani
(6-foot-4 OH), Kaitlyn Edwards
(6-2) and Ashlie Williams
, Marymount lost last year's D-I final to Presentation (San Jose) in five sets. All three are back as Marymount goes for repeats of 2006 and 2003, when it won state titles.View the MaxPreps California girls volleyball playoff brackets
Torrey Pines (31-4) appears to be peaking at the right time and coach Brenna Dean said the team is healthy. Since the playoffs began, Torrey Pines hasn't lost a game and dominated Poway in the San Diego Section finals. The Falcons feature eight players who are destined for college scholarships and 10 players 5-11 or taller.
While their volleyball ability speaks for itself, the Falcons are
well known by their famous fathers
: Maddy Kerr's
dad, Steve, played in the NBA; Ryann Chandler's
dad, Chris, spent 17 seasons as an NFL quarterback; Reily Buechler's
dad, Jud, played in the NBA for 13 years; Aimee Stephenson's
dad, Doug, played for the Buffalo Bills and Savannah Rennie's
dad, Bill, is a former world-ranked tennis professional.
Redondo Union (35-4) had its 30-match win streak snapped by Marymount on Saturday, but has defeated the Sailors twice this season and is eager for a rematch against Torrey Pines. The Falcons won their lone 2012 meeting, 2-0 (25-23, 25-23).
The Sea Hawks are led by Skylar Dykstra
(UCLA signee). The 5-10 outside hitter has some pretty good DNA of her own as her mother, Jenna, was a four-year letter winner at Davidson, where she is the all-time assists leader. Sisters Lara (Nebraska) and Devon (UCLA) are volleyball standouts and brother Joey played volleyball at USC and plays on the AVP Tour. And her father, Joe, was drafted by the Phoenix Suns.
In the Northern California D-I Regional, No. 18 St. Francis (Sacramento)
is the No. 1 seed and will host 12-7 Skyline (Oakland). St. Francis is 35-2 on the season with its lone losses coming against No. 2 ranked Archbishop Mitty (San Jose)
Archbishop Mitty is seeded as the No. 1 team in Northern California's D-II Regional and will host 19-17 Pleasant Valley (Chico). The Monarchs are 34-0 and have lost just eight games this season (winning 89). Their opponent has won 55 games, losing 51.
The biggest threats to Mitty, which won state titles in 2009, 2008, 2004, 2003, appear to be 33-3 Gregori (Modesto)
and 33-5 El Camino (Sacramento)
. El Camino lost to Mitty earlier this season, 2-0. Gregori is 86-14 in games played, but lost to El Camino Saturday in the Sac-Joaquin Section championship.
Gregori, which has one senior on its roster, is led by 6-0 junior Maycie LaBass
, who has a kill percentage of 72.8 (579-795).
Mitty coach Bret Almazan-Cezar said preparation for Tuesday's regional is the same as any other match.
"Our focus will be what it is every day, every moment. Work hard to get better. Our adage: ‘The only thing constant is change. You're either getting better, or getting worse.' We'll work hard to get better today."
Leading Archbishop Mitty are seniors 5-11 outside hitter Allie Wheeler
(226 kills), and libero Anne Marie Schmidt
(507 digs) and 6-3 junior hitter Clare Powers
(325 kills). Junior setter Kelsey Crawford
has 917 assists.
Almazan-Cezar added that the team is relatively healthy for its late-season push. "Every athlete was able to play in the CCS championship. We still have some players on limited duty but everyone should be able to manage for the final push."
Winners of several prestigious tournaments this season, the Monarchs are seeking a repeat of their 2009 season when they went 39-0 and took home a state title.
The No. 1 seed in the Southern California D-II Regional is 26-10 La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad)
, a team that spent most of its season playing Division I schools and beating its fair share. Half of the Mavericks' losses came against teams playing in the Division I tournament.
Leading LaCosta Canyon, which lost the 2011 D-II state finals in five sets to Presentation (San Jose), is 6-2 junior hitter
The San Diego Section is well-represented for the opening of Southern California Regional play. In addition to D-II top seed La Costa Canyon and D-I No. 2 seed Torrey Pines, Tri-City Christian (Vista)
is the D-V top seed, D-III Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)
is No. 1 and Parker (San Diego)
is the top seed in D-IV.
Cathedral is going for back-to-back titles and its fourth in five years. Last year, the Dons defeated NorCal champ Albany in five sets, including 31-29 in the fourth game and 16-14 in the finale. Key returnees from that title team include libero Olivia Zolezzi
, 6-foot MB Tatiana Durr
, 5-9 setter Lauren Miller
and 6-foot hitter Kristen Witous
. All are seniors and having outstanding seasons.
Last year's D-V finalists earned No. 1 seeds again and don't be surprised if there is a rematch between defending champion Branson (Ross)
and Tri-City Christian. And do not be fooled by Tri-City Christian's 16-20 won-loss record. The Eagles have been untested (winning all four matches and 12 games) since the playoffs began.
The Eagles went 1-5 in Arizona's Nike Tournament of Champions and lost twice at the Scripps Ranch Tournament. They were 0-4 at the Fall Classic before winning the Bronze Hill Tournament. The Eagles, with a K-12 enrollment of 1,000, were the smallest school in each tournament.
Branson, however, will be going for its fourth-straight title and has won 83 of 89 games this season in compiling a 35-2 won-loss record. Branson is led by 5-10 junior hitter Sarah Wallace
and seniors Whitney Hansen
(libero) and setter Gaby Steiner
While the other four divisions could have a familiar finalist at State, D-IV will not as LaJolla Country Day and Union Mine (El Dorado) did not reach the playoffs.
Also watch for 30-5 Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton)
and 33-2 Parker, as their losses came at the hands of D-I or D-II schools. Parker comes in with a 21-match winning streak.