After losing in the CIF Open Division state final last year, Mater Dei of Santa Ana completes its quest to get the job done this time with easy 3-0 sweep of Fresno Central in last Saturday’s championship. The Monarchs also are the 2018 State Team of the Year, but it may be surprising to see that it’s been nearly 20 years that this has happened for a team from Orange County. Temecula Valley and Village Christian also win CIF state titles but only one of them gets a slight bump for the final rankings.
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(Previous rank in parentheses)
(After matches of Saturday, Nov. 17)
1. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 43-2
All season long, it looked like this year’s girls at Mater Dei had the look of a group possessed to get back to a championship game and complete the task. The Monarchs were favored in last year’s CIF Open Division state final, but lost to Archbishop Mitty (San Jose). This year, the trick was winning the SoCal Open Regional title since all season it’s also been apparent that it was a down year in NorCal. Head coach Dan O’Dell’s girls took no chances in last Saturday’s championship at Rancho Santiago with a 25-13, 25-12, 25-13 domination of Fresno Central. The win not only came after last year’s loss to Mitty but also is Mater Dei’s first-ever in girls volleyball since there were two other previous losses in state finals before 2017. Junior Mia Tuaniga had nine kills and 15 assists to top MD’s individual leaders. Others to shine included Natalie Berty with nine kills, Brielle Mullally with 18 assists and Meg Brown with eight kills. Mater Dei also has now been named State Team of the Year, which is a formality since the CIF Open Division began three years ago. Still, it’s worth noting that it’s the first time since 1999 when Newport Harbor (Newport Beach) was State Team of the Year that the honor has gone to a school from Orange County. In addition, this MD team ended No. 1 in one national computer ranking. Declaring a national title, however, makes no sense since one of the team’s losses was to unbeaten Assumption of Louisville (Ky.), which is No. 1 among anyone with a brain who can look at comparative scores.
2. (3) Marymount (Los Angeles) 34-10
With the scores of the CIF Open Division state final being what they were, there’s certainly no reason to change the final top five in the state rankings. Marymount had 10 losses, but was almost perfect with its full-strength lineup and went five games with Mater Dei in the CIF SoCal Open Division championship. Marymount also was runner-up to MD in the CIF Southern Section D1 playoffs.
3. (3) Torrey Pines (San Diego) 33-4
The Falcons won the CIF San Diego Section Open Division title and then lost to Marymount in the SoCal Open semifinals. Earlier in the season, head coach Brandon Dean’s girls had two wins against Marymount. There also was a win over Kamehameha of Honolulu, which was in the top 10 in the nation at the time.
4. (4) Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 35-4*
It could easily be the Seahawks in the No. 3 final spot with Torrey Pines at No. 4, but we didn’t see enough reasons to make that switch. Redondo lost in the SoCal Open Division semifinals to Mater Dei and lost in the CIFSS D1 playoffs in the semifinals to Marymount. Senior Jasmine Davis had a fantastic end to her volleyball career at Redondo.
5. (5) Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 27-8*
Some of the early losses for the Dons came when the lineup wasn’t up to full speed yet due to injuries and eligibility. Later on, they went deep at the Nike TOC (including a win over national power Walton of Marietta, Ga.) and got one win against Torrey Pines before losing to the Falcons in the SD Open Division final.
6. (6) Central (Fresno) 39-6
Bailey Combs had nine kills while Amethyst Harper had eight during the Grizzlies’ three-game loss to Mater Dei in the CIF Open Division state final. They were worried about having to travel south for an Open Division match when we visited with them in September, but we’re sure they enjoyed how it worked out. After losing to Buchanan in the Central Section D1 final, head coach Randy Burriss’ girls won the NorCal Open title by beating top seed Sacred Heart Cathedral and then avenging the loss to the Bears in the regional final.
7. (7) Buchanan (Clovis) 35-8
Putting the Bears right behind Central makes sense not just because they won the section title over the Grizzlies. Buchanan also has a head-to-head win over Sierra Canyon, the next team in line from the CIF Southern Section. Ashley Dittmann, who led the team in kills, will be one of several seniors who will be missed next year.
8. (9) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 33-11*
While we did drop previous No. 8 Sacred Heart Cathedral two positions by virtue of the south doing much better than the north in this year’s state finals, we didn’t move up the Trailblazers more than one spot. They earn a top 10 ranking for getting to the semifinals of the CIFSS D1 playoffs, but had 11 losses, including one to No. 7 Buchanan of Clovis.
9. (10) Temecula Valley (Temecula) 24-7
The Golden Bears became the first Riverside County team to win a CIF state title in girls volleyball when they won back-and-forth, extremely close match over Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland in the D1 championship that was played last Friday at Rancho Santiago. An ace by Callie Dubots gave Temecula Valley a 28-26 in in the third set after the teams split the first two. The Golden Bears then won the fourth game 25-22. We did give the girls a bump in front of Sacred Heart Cathedral in the final rankings but they couldn’t go higher since one of their losses was to CIFSS D1 semifinalist Sierra Canyon.
10. (8) Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 31-7
This team was the top seed for the CIF NorCal Open Division playoffs after winning the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division crown, but faltered in a semifinal match at home to Central of Fresno. Regardless, it was a memorable season for the Irish, who usually finish behind perennial power Archbishop Mitty in league, CCS and NorCal standings.
11. (11) Foothill (Tustin) 25-5
Since Foothill’s SoCal playoff loss came in a five-set thriller to eventual CIF D1 state champ Temecula Valley, there certainly was no reason to make a change for its final ranking. The Knights also had a head-to-head win during the season against Long Beach Poly.
12. (12) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 29-9*
The Jackrabbits lost to No. 1 Mater Dei in the opening round of the CIF SoCal Open Division playoffs. They also had a head-to-head win over Mira Costa in the CIFSS D1 playoff, which is another justification for their ranking. A freshman to watch at Poly is freshman Riley McGinest, the daughter of former NFL linebacker Willie McGinest.
13. (14) Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) 23-10
It’s been since 2007 when Costa was State Team of the Year, but the school still leads the state with 10 all-time No. 1 state rankings. This year’s team had double-digit losses, but played one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
14. (15) San Juan Hills (SJ Capistrano) 17-9*
Here’s a place in the final state rankings in which a couple of the SoCal teams are moving up one spot to account for the SoCal teams winning the top three CIF state titles last weekend in Orange County. San Juan Hills’ losses in the playoffs were to Redondo in the CIFSS D1 bracket and to Torrey Pines in the SoCal Open Division. The Stallions beat Vista Murrieta in the CIFSS playoffs and that’s the team that won the league that included CIF D1 state champ Temecula Valley.
15. (16) Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 26-7*
The Broncos were as high as No. 7 in the state back in September and they won the Southwestern League title. They couldn’t get past San Juan Hills, however, in the CIFSS D1 playoffs and then had to watch as league rival Temecula Valley went further and eventually won the CIF D1 state title.
16. (14) Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 37-4
The season ended for the Wildcats with a loss on the road to Buchanan of Clovis in the CIF NorCal Open Division semifinals. They went one round further last year — to the NorCal Open final — but last year they also got the semifinal match on their home court.
17. (17) Village Christian (Sun Valley) 40-9
With all of the depth of top teams in the CIFSS Division I playoff grouping, it was too hard to move up the Crusaders for the final rankings, but for them and their fans it doesn’t matter because winning the CIF D2 state title was so historic. It is the first in school history and came by scores of 25-16, 25-23 and 25-20 over Los Altos in last weekend’s championship. Freshman Payton Hudspeth had 14 kills for VC while junior Kendall Jensen racked up 31 assists.
18. (18) James Logan (Union City) 32-8
For winning the Stockton Classic title in a field that also included many other top NorCal teams and for winning the CIF North Coast Section D1 title, the Colts finish in the top 20 of the final state rankings. Only three seniors were on the roster, but head coach Matt Guzman will miss captains Abigail Viado, Taumafa Tuinauvai and Maxine Tuazon.
19. (19) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 31-7
It didn’t go to a fifth set, but the way the Dragons played in their loss to Temecula Valley in the CIF Division I state final we just couldn’t drop them for the final rankings. Instead, they stay right behind the James Logan of Union City squad they lost to earlier in the season. O’Dowd took the first set of the state final 25-23, then lost 25-23 and then went back-and-forth in the third set before finally losing to Temecula Valley 28-26. The Golden Bears then won the match with a 25-22 win in the fourth set.
20. (20) Westlake (Westlake Village) 34-2*
The team we considered the most to bring up into the final rankings was 24-10 Harvard-Westlake for the difficult schedule it played plus a few key wins. This team from Westlake High, though, notched a win over Harvard-Westlake and only lost twice all season long. Once it was apparent O’Dowd wasn’t dropping out, there was no room for Harvard-Westlake or anyone else.
Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo) 17-9
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 24-17
Bishop’s (La Jolla) 25-11
Campolindo (Moraga) 27-9
Corona del Mar (Newport Beach) 24-13
Foothill (Pleasanton) 30-7
Great Oak (Temecula) 22-9
Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 24-10
La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 26-11
Los Alamitos 26-14
Los Altos 33-9
Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 27-9
Palo Alto 24-6
Quartz Hill 39-7
Ponderosa (Shingle Springs) 31-3
Rancho Cucamonga 26-6
San Clemente 28-9
Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach) 27-12
Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 21-13
Scripps Ranch (San Diego) 32-8
St. Francis (Sacramento) 34-6
St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 27-15
Other CIF State Champions
D3: Ontario Christian (39-2)
D4: San Luis Obispo (25-14)
D5: Washington Union (Easton) 35-7