Redondo Union of Redondo Beach is already making a push for the top after an impressive series of outings at a preseason tournament in Hawaii. But defending CIF Open Division state champion Mater Dei of Santa Ana still should be on top until the team gets a few matches under its belt or suffers a defeat. San Diego Cathedral Catholic and Torrey Pines look loaded as well while the top preseason squad in Northern California is Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco.
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(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) 43-2
Ms. Volleyball State Player of the Year Natalie Berty is now at Stanford, but the Monarchs have enough returning firepower to be considered No. 1 in the state until results on the court would warrant a change. Head coach Dan O’Dell’s top players should be senior setter Mia Tuaniga, one of the best players nationally since she also can go up for kills when asked. Middle blocker Meg Brown and outside hitter Reagan Merk are two of Mater Dei’s other top returnees.
2. Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 35-4
At the end of last season, most state observers thought that the Seahawks might be preseason No. 1 for 2019. Maybe they should be with standouts like All-American candidate Nalani Iosia (libero) and junior Kami Miner (one of our state sophomore athletes of the year). They also have started out already by going to the Ann Kang Invitational in Hawaii where they beat nationally ranked Byron Nelson (Trophy Club, Texas) in the final. Redondo may drop some matches when Miner is playing with the USA Junior National team, but at full strength in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs that’s when the Seahawks might really hit their stride.
3. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 27-8
First team all-state pick Madison Endsley heads up the returnees for the Dons. She had 491 kills as a junior and will play next at Washington. Lindsey Miller will be another returning big banger up front while head coach Juliana Evens also has her setters from last season coming back.
4. Torrey Pines (San Diego) 33-4
We’ll put the defending San Diego Section Open Division champs right behind Cathedral Catholic. First team all-state Emily Fitzner has graduated, but the rest of the lineup for head coach Brennan Dean returns, including kills leader Delaynie Maple.
5. Marymount (Los Angeles) 34-10
Head coach Cari Klein has developed a lot of depth in her program over the years so the Sailors aren’t forecast to drop all that far from last season when they ended No. 2 in the final state rankings behind Mater Dei. Grace Froeling (University of San Diego), Devon Newberry (UCLA beach) and Emma Moffet (Dartmouth) will all be missed.
6. Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 31-7
The Irish finally stepped out from the Archbishop Mitty shadow last year and won the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division title. They also were one of the top teams in Northern California. There are two first team All-West Catholic Athletic League members returning — Ashley Chan and Alden Stanley — and there also are two were second team — Skylar Canady and Megan Lenn.
7. La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 25-11
Three of the top kills leaders for the Mavericks from last season are back. Another good sign for a team that usually battles hard for the top spot in the San Diego Section is the return of setter Mia Schafer.
8. Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 29-9
Head coach Leland McGrath should have one of his best teams. The best aspect for the Jackrabbit faithful is that two of their best players, and two of the best sophomores in the state, Rylie McGinest and Adonia Faumuina, will be around for two more seasons after this one.
9. Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 37-4
This is one of those teams in which the primary setter from last season (Leah Pease) has graduated, but just about everyone else is back. The Wildcats will be led by perhaps the leading player in Northern California, 6-foot-5 Kari Geissberger (committed to Loyola Marymount).
10. Los Alamitos 26-14
Abby Karich was the CIF Southern Section D2 Player of the Year as a junior and returns to lead the Griffins. Just about everyone else also is back for a program that plays as competitive a schedule as anyone and knows how to win titles at the highest levels.
11. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 24-17
A streak of five straight CIF state titles was expected to end for the Monarchs last season due to heavy graduation losses from the previous year and that is what happened. Head coach Bret Almazan-Cezar’s young club, however, did go on an inspiring run in the CIF NorCal D1 playoffs. Mitty has a more promising outlook this year with returnees like Tatum Korb (setter), Julia Cabri (OH) plus Kendra MacDonald and Ellen Veargason. We would still peg Sacred Heart Cathedral as the favorite from the WCAL.
12. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 33-11
Head coach Stefanie Wigfall’s girls reached the CIFSS D1 semifinals with the big three of Mater Dei, Redondo and Marymount. All-State selection May Pertofsky has graduated, but Jaylen Jordan (senior outside hitter who was No. 2 on team in kills) and Taylor Simpson (senior setter) are back so it should be another solid season.
13. Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 21-13
The Eagles still seem to have a ways to go to match where they were two years ago when they were almost even with Mater Dei in the Trinity League. They do have a solid cast of returning players, including setter Kailey Walker, plus two of the four leaders in kills from last season.
14. Liberty (Bakersfield) 18-10
There were only three seniors on the roster of last year’s CIF Central Section Division 1 semifinalists. The top two teams in the section, CIF Open Division state runner up Central of Fresno and state ranked Buchanan (Clovis), both lost just about all their starting players.
15. Village Christian (Sun Valley) 40-9
The Crusaders won the CIF D2 state title last season and will be the new CIFSS D1-2 playoff grouping this season. They would need to be among the section’s top eight overall teams at end of regular season to be in D1 (which is possible). Senior setter Kendall Jensen (31 assists in state final) and sophomore Payton Hudspeth (14 kills) are among the returnees.
16. St. Francis (Sacramento) 34-6
The Troubadours lost in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 final to Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills), but get the preseason nod for the SJS. Veteran head coach Alynn Wright (12 section titles) has a majority of her top players back, led by outside hitter Alexa Edwards (regarded as the best returning player in the section).
17. Temecula Valley (Temecula) 24-7
The leading player off of last year’s CIF Division I state championship team, Jordyn Amoy, has graduated, but there are some good building blocks for the Golden Bears. Among those who are back are sophomore Emma Rhodes and senior Hailey Hinkel.
18. Harvard-Westlake (Studio City) 24-10
Yes, there are more hunch teams toward the end of the top 20. For the Wolverines, we noticed they had a win in Hawaii over Santa Margarita (countered by a loss to Huntington Beach). It also looks like a solid majority of starters have returned, including Britt Gronemeyer and Carly Wallace.
19. Rancho Cucamonga 26-6
Long Beach State-bound Kameron Bacon returns to patrol the middle of the net for the Cougars. Bacon had 300 kills as a junior. Junior Solay Mills added 122 as a sophomore.
20. James Logan (Union City) 32-8
While the Colts lose only three seniors from last season, the defending CIF North Coast Section D1 champions are losing three very good seniors. The rest of the squad is back, so the East Bay could remain the domain of the Colts.
TEAMS ON THE BUBBLE
Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 31-7
Buchanan (Clovis) 35-8
Central (Fresno) 39-6
Clovis North (Fresno) 25-17
Foothill (Tustin) 25-5
Huntington Beach 14-13
Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) 23-10
Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 21-13
Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 27-8
San Juan Hills (SJ Capistrano) 17-9
Westlake (Westlake Village) 34-2