Preseason Girls VB State Top 20

Selina Xu and Rachel Sellers led Menlo School to CIF Division IV state title last season. The Knights may be in CCS Open Division this year. Photo:

For the second straight year, we’ll be doing a Top 20 state ranking each week in girls volleyball. This is because we’re working once again with FloVolleyball in compiling its Flo50 national rankings. We have done state rankings, on again and off again, in the sport since the middle of the 1990s and last season also picked an all-state team. For the 2017 season, just like in football, two Trinity League schools from the CIF Southern Section start out at the top of the state.


(Teams listed with record from last season)
(Doesn’t count any results yet, including preseason Ann Kang Invitational in Hawaii that has already happened)

1. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 34-7
Which team to put No. 1 in the preseason for the state for girls volleyball is much like the situation in football where Mater Dei is in a two-team debate with another school in the Trinity League. In football, of course, that’s the Monarchs and St. John Bosco. In girls vball, it’s the Monarchs and Santa Margarita. The common factor for both is that basically everyone is back except one star player and both teams were among the best in the state last season. For MD, all-state Shannon Scully is the one who graduated. The group coming back includes UC Santa Barbara-bound Kristina Pepek (6-0 jr. OH), USC beach-bound Siena Secrist (6-1 OH) and 5-9 soph setter Mia Tuaniga.

Devon Chang had a lot to shout about last season as her team at Santa Margarita won CIF Southern Section Division I title and she was State Junior of the Year. Photo:

2. Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 34-5
This is the team that lost to Archbishop Mitty of San Jose in the first-ever CIF Open Division state final. Leading a great group of returnees is State Junior of the Year Devon Chang, a setter who has committed to Cal. The main player gone, however, is Meghan McClure, who was the CIFSS D1 player of the year and who could have been called the runner-up to Santa Fe Christian’s Lexi Sun as the State Player of the Year.

3. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 38-4
With five straight CIF state titles and 13 state titles overall, it certainly could be argued that Mitty should be No. 1 in the state to start 2017 until it loses on the court. The reason we’re starting the Monarchs third is that they lost not one but two very strong players (Candice Denny and Kate Formico) while the two ahead of them return just about everyone. Mitty’s best include Julia Devine (6-2 OH), Nicole Liddle (5-10 OH) and Kamrin Caoili (6-0 OPP).

4. Marymount (Los Angeles) 31-5
There would be a bit of a gap after the first three to the next group of teams in the state but starting out first in that group is the Sailors. Head coach Cari Klein welcomes back a stellar bunch of top players, including 6-foot-3 setter Grace Frohling (University of San Diego), 5-foot-11 junior outside Devon Newberry (UCLA beach) plus 6-foot-1 middle blocker Emma Moffet.

5. Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 24-13
The Seahawks won back-to-back CIF Division I state titles in 2014 and 2015 and were competitive against the best teams last season with a young lineup. Transfer help also may be in the works. Key players back include USC-bound junior middle blocker Kayla Doig, libero Nalani Iosia (the defensive player of the year in the Bay League as a freshman), and 5-10 junior outside Jasmine Davis.

6. Lakewood 32-6
The Lancers look good to win their fifth straight Moore League title and once again rank among the best in SoCal. Destiynie Viliamu leads a standout cast. The 5-foot-10 outside hitter and UC Irvine commit was the 2016 Long Beach Press Telegram Player of the Year. Julia Crawford (OH) is another top returnee.

7. Torrey Pines (San Diego) 28-8
There doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming favorite in San Diego so the traditionally strong Falcons are a good place to start. They do have several top returnees, led by Jaden Whitmarsh, the daughter of beach volleyball legend Mike Whitmarsh. Setter Kiara McNulty (Northwestern) is another one back.

8. Edison (Huntington Beach) 35-8
The girl who led the Chargers to the CIF Division I state title, Hannah Phair, has graduated, but there’s enough of a mix of top returnees and new players to keep them ranked for the preseason. Junior MB Maggie Gunther, Kristin Austin and Lindsey Sparks are starters from last season who are back.

9. Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 29-7
Determining a No. 2 behind Archbishop Mitty from the north this preseason was not easy, but the Wildcats were the ones we chose. Only three seniors were on the roster last year from a squad that reached the CIF NorCal Open Division semifinals. Marin Catholic has size up front with Pacific-bound Riley Ramsey (6-2 OH) and Kari Geissberger (6-3 soph. MB). Junior setter Leah Pease (5-7) is another to watch.

10. San Juan Hills (SJ Capistrano) 24-3
A strong core of returnees should make the Stallions one of the top teams in SoCal and Orange County. Last year’s team was ranked high early in the season after a series of key wins and should do better in the playoffs. Katie Lukes, a 6-2 OH who had 389 kills, is the top player back.

11. Menlo School (Atherton) 25-8
Junior Selina Xu (5-11 jr. S/OH) earned a spot on the USA Junior National Training Team roster early in the summer and is a top returnee for the Knights. They won the CIF Division 4 state title last season and have many others back. Also in that group are Ashley Dreyer (6-2 MB) and Kristin Sellers (5-9 S). Sellers has committed to Brown. Dreyer had 240 kills as a junior.

Kendall Kipp from Corona del Mar of Newport Beach has been one of the top ranked Class of 2019 players in the nation since she was a freshman. Photo:

12. La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 23-11
Oregon-bound Morgan Lewis, a 6-foot-3 junior middle blocker, is among those back for the Mavericks, who could do better along with others in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division now that Lexi Sun is gone at Santa Fe Christian.

13. Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) 30-10
Another traditional powerhouse that would make us feel strange just not putting them into the mix, the Mustangs only had four seniors on last year’s team. Two of those, however, were South Bay Daily Breeze Players of the Year Britt Bommer and Alexa Underwood. Sami Underwood, a 5-foot-10 junior, is one of those returning.

14. St. Francis (Mountain View) 23-15
After Mitty, the top teams in the West Catholic Athletic League last season were at St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Cathedral (both San Francisco). Both of those teams were senior-laden. St. Francis was also competitive and does have some players back. The best of its group is 6-foot senior OH Mollie Ebertin. She is headed to USC for a beach scholarship.

15. Corona del Mar (Newport Beach) 19-11
The Seakings look like one of the best in Orange County. There are two dominant returnees. Kendall Kipp (6-4 jr. OH) is a USA youth national player who had 235 kills last season. Ashley Humphreys (5-11 OPP/S) is a returning all-leaguer headed to USC who had 252 kills and 553 assists.

16. Canyon Crest Academy (San Diego) 20-11
This team squeaked onto the bottom of the State Top 20 a few times last season and should be more of a mainstay this year with everyone back except one starter. Olivia Schewe (6-2 jr. MB) and Olivia Lovenberg (5-9 sr. S) are among the returnees.

17. Turlock 28-12
This is the team we’d go with for CIF Sac-Joaquin Section supremacy. League rival Pitman, which beat the Bulldogs in last year’s D1 section final, returns about half of its roster. But only one starter is gone at Turlock. Setter Julia Handy also comes back as the local area player of the year. The University of Arizona recruit had a whopping 1,104 assists last season.

18. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 29-10
The Dons won the 2016 CIF Division II state title. No, that’s not the San Diego Open Division, but they still topped a solid D2 state field and have a lot back. Megan Faraimo (6-1 OH) was the State Junior Athlete of the Year. In addition to volleyball, she was one of the state’s top softball pitchers.

19. Huntington Beach 31-5
It was a mostly senior crew that had the Oilers battling on even terms with league rival Edison during the regular season and then in the playoffs got to watch the Chargers win the CIF Division I state title while they were in the Open Division. All-league OH Jillian Kim is Huntington’s top returnee.

20. Liberty (Bakersfield) 24-8
Head coach Amy Parker and girls won the CIF Central Section Division I title last season before losing to Santa Margarita in the regional bracket. There’s a more than a solid cast coming back, including Oregon-bound junior Elise Ferreira.


Flintridge Sacred Heart (La Canada) 24-10
Head-Royce (Oakland) 34-1
Monte Vista (Danville) 26-7
Pitman (Turlock) 28-8
Rancho Cucamonga 23-11
Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach) 30-8
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 32-4
St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 32-9
Temecula Valley (Temecula) 24-5
Tracy 36-5
Ventura 36-3

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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