Beginning next week, since we will be doing the new FAB 50 national rankings for FloVolleyball.com and because we’re getting extra help from our partners at SportStars, we will be resuming a State Top 20 ranking each week for the rest of the season in girls volleyball.
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Girls volleyball is back. Well, not really, but as a sport in which Cal-Hi Sports will be offering a state ranking it is.
One of the main reasons we’re re-firing a State Top 20 each week, beginning Sept. 21, is that it’s part of a further evolution of the Cal-Hi Sports partnership with SportStars.
You see, since SportStars already has done the legwork in evaluating top teams for Northern California for its early September issue and will be providing info each week on the top Northern California teams, we’ll concentrate on the best teams from Southern California.
Another reason is that the FAB 50 national rankings for girls volleyball that we’ve done for other media organizations over the years, including ESPN, Student Sports and Rivals.com, is going to be ramped back up for FloVolleyball.com.
In June, we completed our second season of compiling FAB 50 national rankings for FloSoftball.com, which is a sister site of the new FloVolleyball.com site as part of the FloSports network. And just like in softball in which figuring out the order of the top California teams is essential in those rankings, that will be the same for girls volleyball.
We previously were part of FAB 50 rankings in girls volleyball that appeared on ESPN’s now defunct high school site from 2008 to 2012 and then in 2013 those rankings appeared on Student Sports. We also compiled preseason and final rankings for girls volleyball in the late 1990s and early 2000s for Student Sports Magazine and featured some of the sport’s greatest players ever, including Kerri Walsh-Jennings from Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, Misty May-Treanor from Newport Harbor of Newport Beach and April Ross (also from Newport Harbor).
There were no FAB 50 rankings in 2014 and again last season, but at some point if all goes well we’ll do final rankings for those seasons just to have no holes in the archives.
In that 2013 season, Granite Bay completed a 45-0 campaign by defeating Los Alamitos in the CIF Division I state championship. The Grizzlies also notched a head-to-head match win over D2 state champ Archbishop Mitty early in the season at a tourney in Stockton. Granite Bay’s 45-0 slate is still the best in state history.
We also have fond memories of the 2000 season when Bonita Vista of Chula Vista finished 40-0 and was No. 1 in the state and nation.
Bonita Vista won in the CIF Division I state final over St. Mary’s of Stockton, but it wasn’t easy. The Rams rallied after losing the first two games (16-14 and 15-9) and forced a fifth game with wins of 16-14 and 15-13. The Barons then won the fifth game 15-10.
In that 2000 state final, setters Jillian Mazzarella of Bonita Vista and Megan Wooten of St. Mary’s had 88 and 82 assists, which are still the top two single-game totals in any state championship match and are two of the highest totals in any match in state history, playoffs or not. Bonita Vista’s Jennifer Saleaumua also had 57 kills, which is still 20 more than the second-highest total in any state final.
One major change in the CIF girls volleyball state championships, beginning this season, is the addition of an Open Division. Similar to how it’s been done in boys and girls basketball, the CIF Open Division in girls volleyball will lump together the top teams into two brackets – one in the north and one in the south – regardless of school enrollment or CIF section divisions.
For Northern California, the creation of an Open Division in girls volleyball should limit the number of state titles that the West Catholic Athletic League will win because those top WCAL teams will now have to play each other instead of playing in different divisions.
In last year’s CIF state finals, for example, overall State Team of the Year Archbishop Mitty won the D2 title while WCAL rival Valley Christian-San Jose took it all in D3. Notre Dame of Belmont also won a state title in D4. This year, both Mitty and Valley Christian likely will be in the Open Division.
Whether the Open Division in girls volleyball works out well for the top teams will be hard to determine, but it’s clear to see that many more teams from other divisions will now have better odds at winning a CIF state title than they did previously.
Editor’s Note: Look for the first CalHiSports.com Top 20 rankings on Wednesday, Sept. 21 and for the first FloVolleyball FAB 50 national rankings on the same date.