In the past, without an Open Division at the CIF level, the top two teams in the state may not be meeting in the final game of the season. This year, that will happen on Saturday night when No. 1 Santa Margarita meets No. 2 Archbishop Mitty in the first-ever CIF Open Division final for girls volleyball. In the D1 title match, Edison of Huntington Beach has been moved up to No. 4 prior to facing No. 12 Menlo-Atherton. We also have moved up D2 state finalist Valley Christian of San Jose to No. 20 in this week’s rankings.
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(Through games of Saturday, Nov. 26)
(Previous ranking in parentheses)
*Indicates season complete.
1. (1) Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 34-4
The Eagles will get a chance to avenge one of their losses this season when they will take on Archbishop Mitty of San Jose in the CIF Open Division state championship match on Saturday night. In their 2-0 loss at the Durango Fall Classic to the Monarchs, the Eagles had just eight total kills from the combination of Meghan McClure and Sarah Ciszek with both hitting in the negative and them getting going will be key as they combined to average 7.1 kills per set this season. Santa Margarita earned its spot in the state final with a straight set win over Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach last Saturday despite allowing Lexi Sun to have 28 kills. This will be the school’s first state finals appearance since 2003.
2. (3) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 37-4
Leading the Bay Area teams headed to Southern California this weekend is the Monarchs as they will be looking for their 13th CIF state championship and fifth in a row when they take on No. 1 Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita team in the CIF Open Division state finals. With a balanced attack, the Monarchs have four players averaging at least 2.8 kills per set led by junior Nicole Liddle averaging 3.4 per set. Earlier this season at the Durango tourney, Mitty the defeated the Eagles in straight sets as Candice Denny had 11 kills and the Monarchs outhit the Eagles .276 to 0.31. In the NorCal finals, Mitty won in straight sets over a St. Ignatius of San Francisco team that was also defeated to win the WCAL tournament and CIF CCS Open Division titles.
3. (4) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 34-7*
Yes, we are going to rank the Monarchs higher than the team they lost to (Santa Fe Christian) in the CIF SoCal Open Division semifinals. This is because of their total overall resume than just that one match. This includes wins at the Durango Fall Classic where they won the title against an elite national field, a win over Mitty and a win over Bishop Moore of Orlando, Fla., at the Nike TOC. That ended up being Bishop Moore’s only loss of the season.
4. (8) Edison (Huntington Beach) 35-8
Facing a Huntington Beach squad the Chargers they split a pair of matches with during the regular season, they once again won on the homecourt of the Oilers. Edison advanced to its first state final in program history — to be played Friday afternoon vs. Menlo-Atherton — with the straight set win. Hannah Phair has been the leading weapon on offense for most of the season and she will be entering the state finals off a 17-kill performance while Taylor Gray and Cassidy Dennison are other players to keep an eye out when Edison are on offense. Head coach Matt Skolnik told OCVarsity after the game “I think we played one of our best matches of the year.” That is a good way to be playing entering the state finals. We also have moved up Edison into the fourth spot even though the team went 1-2 in matches vs. Mira Costa, including the one in the CIFSS D1 quarterfinals that knocked the Chargers from the Open Division. They do have a win over Santa Margarita this season and have done enough in other matches to make us feel good about putting them fourth in the final rankings if they win. Edison playing earlier on Friday, by the way, gives fans at the school the chance to watch both the state volleyball final and the CIFSS Division III football finals on Friday night.
5. (3) Santa Fe Christian
(Solana Beach) 30-8*
The Eagles and their huge run in the CIF Open Division was stopped in the SoCal final by No. 1 Santa Margarita. Their final ranking also will not change depending on which team wins between Santa Margarita and Mitty, but they could still come up one spot if Menlo-Atherton were to upset Edison in the D1 state final.
6. (5) Torrey Pines (San Diego) 28-8*
Like San Diego Section member Santa Fe Christian, the Falcons also drop one spot in this week’s rankings to make room for Edison going up to No. 4. The team lost in the San Diego Open Division final to Santa Fe Christian, then beat Mira Costa in the SoCal Open before losing to No. 1 Santa Margarita.
7. (7) Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) 29-10*
Head coach Hayley Blanchard’s squad is pretty much locked into either the seventh or eighth spot for the final rankings. The best case scenario would be for Edison to win the D1 state title since then the Mustangs can say they went 2-1 in matches against the Chargers this season.
8. (6) St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 32-9*
The Wildcats ended up with four of their losses to Archbishop Mitty (their league rivals) and got to the NorCal Open Division final with wins against Pitman of Turlock and Campolindo of Moraga. Obviously, a Mitty win over Santa Margarita may help them come up one spot or two in next week’s final rankings.
9. (9) Huntington Beach 31-5*
The Oilers ended up going 2-2 in matches against arch-rival Edison after they fell to the Chargers in the CIF SoCal D1 regional final.
10. (9) Lakewood 31-6*
We’re going to swap Lakewood and Ventura for the 10th spot since the Lancers’ CIF SoCal D1 playoff loss came in five close games to an Edison (Huntington Beach) team that is still going and favored to win CIF D1 state title.
11. (10) Ventura 35-3*
This team’s season included an historically significant CIFSS D2 title, but the biggest win as it impacted the rankings was the one over Archbishop Mitty at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.
12. (13) Menlo-Atherton (Atherton) 29-5
For the second year in a row, the Bears will be in the CIF Division I state finals and will look to do better this season after losing to Redondo Union of Redondo Beach in last year’s state final. With a pair of seniors leading the attack with over 400 kills each, it’s Jacqueline DiSanto and Eliza Grover that will lead the attack against Edison of Huntington Beach. One other key player on defense will be sophomore middle blocker Alicia Letvin. Starting the season 1-4, M-A enters having won 29 out of its last 30 matches.after a 3-1 win over Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills in the CIF NorCal Division I championship game. The Bears also are one of two teams that did not get to the CCS Open Division semifinals still going with a shot to win a CIF state title. The other is Valley Christian of San Jose in Division II.
13. (12) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 23-10*
We’ll drop the Jackrabbits one spot this week to account for previous No. 13 Menlo-Atherton getting a shot at No. 4 Edison in this week’s CIF Division I state final. If Edison wins, Poly would got back up at least one position for the final rankings.
14. (14) Marymount (Los Angeles) 31-5*
The Sailors were as high as No. 4 in the state before a stunning loss to Long Beach Poly in their very first CIFSS Division I playoff game. As it turned out, the Jackrabbits went to the semifinals and then the CIF SoCal Open Division.
15. (15) Sacred Heart Cathedral (SF) 27-9*
There’s a chance the Irish could finish knowing they beat both the CIF D2 (Valley Christian) and CIF D3 state champions (Acalanes) during the season. Their upset to Campolindo in the CIF NorCal Open Division in our view also is overcome by many other strong outings, including that second-place showing at the Stockton Classic.
16. (16) Notre Dame (Belmont) 32-11*
This is another team in which we’re ranking higher than the team it lost to in the NorCal Open Division based on performances at national tournaments. In the Tigers’ case, it’s the win at Durango over Fayetteville, Ark., and the one at the Nike TOC over Walton (Marietta, Ga.).
17. (17) Pitman (Turlock) 28-8*
This team’s CIF NorCal Open Division loss was to No. 2 Mitty. It beat NorCal D1 finalist Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) to win third straight Sac-Joaquin D1 crown.
18. (18) La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 23-11*
Head coach Said Souikane’s girls went out in the CIF SoCal Open Division first round with a loss to Mater Dei. Before that, LCC went to the San Diego Section Open Division final where it lost to Santa Fe Christian.
19. (19) Christian Brothers (Sacramento) 27-6*
The more we think about it the more we’re not happy with the CIF sticking the Falcons into the NorCal Open Division as a No. 8 seed opposite Mitty. The Monarchs, given their history, easily could have been given a first-round bye. The Falcons and their fans now have to see if a team they beat, Valley Christian of San Jose, can win a D2 state title this weekend.
20. (NR) Valley Christian (San Jose) 28-12
Earning their way into the rankings this week, the Warriors extended their winning streak to seven matches with a straight set win at St. Francis of Mountain View to avenge an earlier loss and earn their spot in the CIF Division II state championship match against Cathedral Catholic of San Diego. Setting up the offense will be setter Tori Dilfer, who will be looking to set up up 6-foot-3 junior Melanie Williams, Jade Gillespie and Bekah Roth when on the attack. Last season’s Division III state champion also will be looking for its third state title in four years.
Previous No. 20 Canyon Crest Academy (San Diego).
TEAMS ON THE BUBBLE
Acalanes (Lafayette) 30-9
Campolindo (Moraga) 30-11*
Canyon Crest Academy (San Diego) 20-11*
Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 27-9
Clovis West (Fresno) 34-11*
Corona del Mar (Newport Beach) 19-11*
Crossroads (Santa Monica) 27-4
Eastlake (Chula Vista) 22-9*
El Dorado (Placentia) 26-8*
Flintridge Sacred Heart (La Canada) 23-10*
Great Oak (Temecula) 16-14*
Liberty (Bakersfield) 25-8*
Los Alamitos 19-17*
Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 28-7*
Monte Vista (Danville) 26-7*
Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 36-9*
Rancho Cucamonga 24-11*
Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 24-14*
Redwood (Larkspur) 23-15*
San Benito (Hollister) 31-7*
San Juan Hills (SJ Capistrano) 24-3*
St. Francis (Mountain View) 23-15*
St. Joseph (Lakewood) 27-15*
Temecula Valley (Temecula) 25-5*
Stockton office assistant editor Paul Muyskens and SportStars Magazine editor Chace Bryson contributed to these rankings. Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports