For years, we’ve been putting teams from the CIF Central Section in the north for our state rankings but that hasn’t been the case for the California Interscholastic Federation, which has quite often put Central Section teams in the south. And with the CIF Southern Section’s use of competitive equity playoff divisions, we also have been waiting for the CIFSS to finally have more than four teams from the CIFSS in the eight-team CIF Southern California Open Division playoffs.
Both of those breakthroughs were obvious when Sunday’s CIF girls volleyball pairings were announced.
CIF Central Section D1 champion Buchanan of Clovis wasn’t put in the south, but was in the north and was seeded second behind Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco. The Central Section D1 runner-up, Central of Fresno, which did play in the SoCal Open Division last year when it won the title, also was put in the north and will travel to James Logan of Union City for Wednesday’s first round.
And for the first time that we know of in any CIF regional playoff (at least it has never happened before in boys and girls basketball), the CIF didn’t arbitrarily select an L.A. City Section team or send one or two of the CIF Central Section teams to the south to complete an eight-team Open Division bracket. Instead, that bracket expanded to include CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinalists for the first time. The two teams brought up were Long Beach Poly and San Juan Hills of San Juan Capistrano. The two CIFSS quarterfinalists that will be in the CIF SoCal D1 playoffs are Foothill of Tustin and Temecula Valley.
Followers of boys basketball and girls basketball in both regions of the state should pay attention to what just happened in girls volleyball. There’s no reason why the CIF shouldn’t do the same thing in both of those sports for its two Open Divisions. In other words, that means the best CIF Central Section teams going to the north and no longer a four-team limit of teams from the CIFSS. Both boys and girls basketball are different than volleyball, of course, since the L.A. City Section in boys hoops tends to be strong and usually has Open Division candidates. There also may be a desire by the CIF on the girls side to keep teams like Clovis West and Archbishop Mitty separated from each other until the state final. Still, we consider what just happened in girls volleyball to be a major breakthrough and we hope it leads to more of the same.
Mater Dei of Santa Ana is the top seed in the CIF SoCal Open Division for girls volleyball after defeating Marymount of Los Angeles for the CIFSS D1 title. Unlike in basketball, the CIFSS doesn’t have an Open Division in volleyball but the best teams from the best leagues (like in football) are all in the D1 bracket. Other than the six CIFSS teams, the other two teams in the CIF SoCal Open Division for volleyball are Torrey Pines of San Diego and Cathedral Catholic of San Diego.