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Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 30041 [title] => Girls HS: CIF-SS Division 1-AA Outlook [alias] => girls-hs-cif-ss-division-1-aa-outlook [catid] => 10 [published] => 1 [introtext] =>

TOP CONTENDERS

Redondo Union – The two-time defending Bay League champs have three players that started in the CIF championship match two years ago in Yassie Bedart-Ghani, Abril Bustamante and Norene Iosia. Now a senior, Bedart-Ghani played for Marymount, which beat Redondo, before transferring to Redondo last season. Bedart-Ghani is a physical finisher and provides Redondo with a strong presence on the left. Iosia, a junior, is among the best setters in the region, while Bustamante gives Redondo versatility. The senior can play on the left, right or in the middle if needed. Another returning starter is senior middle blocker Kristin Hamlin. Junior outside Megan Rice is expected to crack the starting lineup and will add to the offensive prowess. Redondo also has a good mix of back row options in Katie Barkley, Amanda Tsao and Hayes Honea to help with passing and defense. The only question for Redondo is filling either the opposite or second middle spot. Options include putting Rice or Bustamante on the right or using Bustamante in the middle. Regardless, with a setter like Iosia and offensive players like Bustamante, Rice and Bedart-Ghani, Redondo can overcome a lack of scoring from the right or second middle spot. Combined with its experience and pieces to work with, Redondo is a serious threat and team to contend with in 2014.

Lakewood – When Lakewood started a trio of freshmen in outsides Megan Kruidhof and Sarah Miller and opposite Megann Delgado, it was clear the Lancers would be a team to deal with when the trio became seniors. That time is here for that and they anchor a defending Moore League squad that is built for a deep postseason run. Lakewood also returns sophomore setter Shelbie Dobmeier. Junior middle blocker Amanda Henderson is expected to start and take on an expanded role this season. The Lancers also have some young talent on the roster in freshmen Brooklyn Schirmer (MB/OH) and Destynie Viliamu (MB/OH). The key for Lakewood is blending some of the young with the experience of its seniors, which also include libero Kelly Fiu. Seniors usually play like seniors in big matches. Kruidhof is a solid finisher on the left, while Miller is a strong ball-control outside and provides good defense. Delgado has expanded on the right and is playing all the way around, making her a threat in the back row as well. She’s also the best blocker on the team. The success is, in part, going to rely on how well the underclassmen like Henderson and Dobmeier perform in the big matches. That’s the way it goes in high school. All in all though, few teams can match the starting seven of the Lancers.

Mater Dei – The Monarchs’ chances this season were greatly improved with the arrival of a pair of transfers in senior outside Alyse Ford-Wallace and Jacqueline Wolfe, both who play club with current Mater Dei senior setter Payton Chang. Chang is one of two returning starters, along with senior middle blocker Brittany Welsh, from last year’s finalist squad that finished runner up to Los Alamitos. Chang is likely to run a 6-2 and hit in the front row. Wolfe could fill in at the other opposite position or could serve Mater Dei in the middle. Either way, she’ll be on the court. Ford-Wallace gives Mater Dei that dynamic attacker on the left and that’s a game-changer. While Mater Dei has pieces to work with and a lot of them young and developing talent, the Monarchs aren’t quite as polished to start the season as Redondo and Lakewood, and especially if Wolfe and Ford-Wallace have to sit out the 30-day period. However, by the time the Trinity League starts and the playoffs roll around, Mater Dei is going to be improved and will have established its identity. So don’t expect Mater Dei to come out of the gates like Lakewood or Redondo, but come CIF expect Mater Dei to be as dangerous a team as any in the division. That’s what makes Mater Dei a legitimate contender.

IN THE MIX

Mira Costa – Coming off a quarterfinals appearance last fall, the Mustangs return a large chunk of its starting lineup and make the Bay League one of the more top-heavy in So Cal. It includes senior outside Skylar Caputo, middles Katie Rethmeyer and Erin Sagisi and setter Keala Rusher. Katrina Kernochan is also back and gave Mira Costa valuable contributions at outside last year. Opposite and libero are the main positions for Mira Costa to fill this season. Another is to work through the variety of options the roster allows for. Along with Rusher, junior Sam Snyder, junior Erin McCarthy and sophomore Britt Bommer are also setters on the roster. Rusher ran a 6-2 last season for the Mustangs, while Britt Bommer was part of a 6-2 in club, hitting front row. At 6-feet, Bommer is the tallest of the group, but also the youngest. Snyder and McCarthy ran 5-1s for their respective club teams in the spring, so there is no shortage of options. Mira Costa doesn’t have the same type of offensive weapons like Redondo, Lakewood and Mater Dei, but the Mustangs have the experience of last year’s postseason combined with the potential to take care of the ball and be good defensively.

Great Oak – The defending Southwestern League champ is built around its junior quartet of setter Cindy Marina, opposite Bailee Huizenga, middle Amy Underdown and libero Samantha Rice, all starters on last year’s semifinals squad. Returning outsides Olyvia Chaltas and Morgan Kissick also played valuable minutes last season and are sure to be contributors once more. Great Oak loses some size from last season, but its main position to replace is finding a middle to pair with Underdown. Other than that, Great Oak is positioned to be a factor in the division once more.

DEFENDING CHAMPION

Los Alamitos – This might be the first year since 2008 that Los Alamitos isn’t in the conversation as a preseason title contender. That’s not to mean the Sunset League team has fallen off the map. Los Al still figures to have some say in the division this year. Returning starters in senior middle Sydney Beyma and junior setter Julia Patterson are a good starting point. Senior Mikki Sale is likely to take over the libero duties and keep up the program’s strong play at that position. Repeating might be looked at as a long shot, but Los Al still has a postseason run in it. Quarterfinals could be possible, if not the semis should Los Al get hot late.

ON THE RISE

Notre Dame/SO – With an all-around talent in senior Zana Muno, Notre Dame will have the best player on the court in just about every match it plays this season.  She’s expected to set for the Knights. With hitters around her like Katherine Bloch, Savannah Slattery, Jenny Edwards and Nicole Luszczak, the options are both solid and plentiful. Notre Dame is likely to lean on juniors Jasmine Gritton and Taylor Stafford-Smith in the middle. The team also has the option of using Bloch at either outside or libero, where Caroline Page could play as well. A semifinalist last season in 1-A, the Mission League squad should be improved this fall and it’ll need to be moving up to 1-AA.

Flintridge Sacred Heart – Another Mission League team, the Tologs are in a similar position as Notre Dame. Plenty returns from last year’s roster that reached the 1-A semifinals. Two of those pieces are senior setter Sophia Coffey and sophomore outside Kayla Lund. Also back is senior libero Emily Develle, making FSH strong at three key positions. Senior Megan Bacall, junior Clara Gross and sophomore Natalie Buntich could all see time in the middle, while Ali McCollum could get time on the right.

San Clemente – The Tritons are another member of this group that returns enough players that the South Coast League squad should make a move forward in 2014. San Clemente lost just one starter last year, returning outside Cali Hoye, opposite Becca Dunn, setter Marie Paris, libero Camille Davey and middles Cassie Stewart and Natalie Knauf. Also back is outside Tatum Harvey and middle Molly Morris. After going out in the second round last season, San Clemente looks poised to stick around just a bit longer this fall.

Santa Margarita – Santa Margarita was young last season when it went out in the first round. Though still relatively young, it’s likely the Trinity League team wins at least one playoff match this season. The Eagles have one of the best young hitters in sophomore Meghan McClure and she is paired with club teammate and incoming freshman setter Devon Chang. Senior Claire Archibald returns on the left, while junior middle Jackie Ghindia is back as well. Santa Margarita is set up well in the back row, with returning libero and junior Jane Horner, as well as junior Brooke Hertel.

QUICK HITS

Marymount – Sailors came up short of winning a CIF championship last season, ending a streak of three consecutive from 2011-13. Marymount has some solid offensive parts in place in outsides Tyler Spriggs and Michaela Keefe, as well as middles Kyra Smith and Charlie Robinson. If Marymount, which moved to the Mission League this season, can figure out the pieces around them, pass the ball and play defense, Marymount could surprise this season.

Corona del Mar – Sea Kings take a hit with the loss of Hayley Hodson, but bring back starters in setter Jessie Harris, middles Sam Jones and Natalia Bruening and outside Katie Craig. CdM might not be a title favorite this season, but it’s capable of reaching the quarterfinals.

Chaparral – Some notables for Chaparral include setter/opposite Julia Cubbedge and outside Becca Branch. The Pumas aren’t as deep as some of those others in the division, but they did reach the second round last year and could go a step further this season.

Vista Murrieta – The Broncos have perhaps the best player in the Southwestern League in Amanda Pedersen-Henry. It’s a matter of finding some pieces around her if Vista Murrieta wants to take a step forward this season and make a deeper postseason run.

Long Beach Wilson – With outsides Sydney Newton and Milan Stokes returning and Harlee Kekauoha coming from North via transfer, the Bruins have a strong trio to build around. It could have Wilson being improved this fall after making the second round last season.

La Salle – The Lancers moved up to 1-AA after claiming back-to-back 1-A titles. Losing outside Haley DeSales was a big blow to the team’s chances of competing in 1-AA. Setter Alyssa Tavera does return, but finding scoring on the attack is the key for La Salle.

Harvard-Westlake – The Wolverines lost to La Salle in last year’s 1-A final and also move up to 1-AA. Harvard-Westlake is younger this season and is looking to retool its lineup. The Wolverines could be a year away from a postseason run.

Long Beach Poly – Led by senior Erin Williams, who can play on the outside or middle, the Jackrabbits have an athletic lineup. A bit young overall, it’s about finding some consistency in the passing and serving game. If that happens, Long Beach could be a bit of a sleeper this season.

SOMETHING TO KNOW

Not counting Marymount’s victory in 2012, you have to go back to 1996 to find a Division 1-AA champion that’s not currently in the Sunset, Bay, Trinity or Moore leagues. Marymount was in the Sunset League in 2012. Why is any of that relevant? Well, with Lakewood (Moore), Redondo (Bay) and Mater Dei (Trinity) among the expected top teams, it doesn’t look like a new trend is starting. It’s a safe bet, almost a guarantee really, that the CIF champion this season is coming from one of those four leagues.

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[event] => stdClass Object ( ) [postType] => [link] => /girls-volleyball/high-schools/item/30041-girls-hs-cif-ss-division-1-aa-outlook [featuredIntroImage] => /media/k2/items/src/ea58159695d41dd18b711ff50e9f15fb.jpg [featuredImageThumbnails] => stdClass Object ( [image_620x340] => media/k2/items/cache/620x340_ea58159695d41dd18b711ff50e9f15fb.jpg [image_290x160] => media/k2/items/cache/290x160_ea58159695d41dd18b711ff50e9f15fb.jpg [image_140x90] => media/k2/items/cache/140x90_ea58159695d41dd18b711ff50e9f15fb.jpg [image_50x50] => media/k2/items/cache/50x50_ea58159695d41dd18b711ff50e9f15fb.jpg ) [featuredIntrotext] => TOP CONTENDERS Redondo Union – The two-time defending Bay League champs have three players that... [numOfComments] => 0 ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 30039 [title] => Villa Park tops South, more Molten Classic notes [alias] => villa-park-tops-south-more-molten-classic-notes [catid] => 10 [published] => 1 [introtext] =>

The depth of this year’s Lakewood Molten Classic was highlighted by a second-round showdown between Division 1-A Villa Park and Division 2-AA South Torrance on Monday afternoon at Mayfair High.

In years past, it would take until the quarterfinal to see a match of that caliber, yet with a stronger overall field the respective CIF hopefuls faced off in their second match of the day.

Villa Park, behind the play of senior middle blocker Peyton Grahovac, advanced in four games, 25-22, 20-25, 25-17, 25-17. Emma Calle’s down-the-line winner capped the victory and set up a meeting with Chino Hills, also of 1-A, in the quarters.

Meanwhile, South Torrance will take on Esperanza, another 2-AA squad, in consolation play Wednesday. Chino Hills swept Esperanza, 27-25, 25-19, 25-16, in another second-round result.

“We’ve been in practices for several weeks and they were anxious to get out and show what they can do,” Villa Park first-year coach Megan Spurgin said. “We had a shaky start this morning, but they settled down. They were just ready to play a match.”

Villa Park ended up sweeping Van Nuys in the morning round, where South Torrance took down Millikan.

The match between Villa Park and South Torrance was even through the first two sets before Villa Park took control of the final two sets.

Both rosters are dotted with returning starters, including Grahovac and Calle for Villa Park. In fact, the Spartans graduated only one senior. Other returning starters for Villa Park featured setter Emily Elder, outside Maddie Olsen, middle Meghan Murphy, libero Neha Petal and opposite Danica Moeller. Krista Hershfield also played significant time in the back row Monday.

That experience started to take grip of the match after South even the sets at one apiece following Taylor Brydon’s kill to end the second set. Brydon, who spends most of her time at opposite, moved to the middle because South was down a starter at that position.

South also lost opposite Bailey Oliver, who started on the right but fell ill during the match and had to leave. Senior setter Kori Kutsch and junior outside Karly Eastley were big contributors last season and started Monday, as did senior libero Aly Prunauer, senior middle Myca Steffey-Bean and sophomore outside Gina Cortesi. Junior Mikayla Clark also saw time at outside.

“If we hadn’t played in Queen’s Court last weekend, if this was truly our second match, we wouldn’t have been ready to play at this level,” South coach Robert Kutsch said. “It was good volleyball. Villa Park is a good team. I was impressed. They have good options. Number 15 (Grahovac) is pretty dang good. When they were out of system, we could slow them down. In system, they were tough to stop.”

Winners from Elder and Grahovac put Villa Park up 11-2 in Game 4 and took the drama out of the final set early.

Moments earlier, Grahovac’s slide winner capped the third set for Villa Park, which led by as much as 22-14.

Eastley’s kill gave South set point at 24-19 in Game 2. South fell behind 4-1 early in the set but went in front 8-6 on Steffey-Bean’s block and never trailed again in the set.

Oliver’s right-side strike had South ahead 20-18 in the opening set. Villa Park rallied to take the lead at 22-21 when Grahovac scored off a slide attack. Her block gave Villa Park set point at 24-21. Two plays later, Calle’s block sealed it for Villa Park.

While Spurgin is in her first season with the team, she already knows she has a tight-knit bunch.

“I think with any team I’m coaching I’m always learning. It’s always a learning experience,” she said. “This group has formed a unique bond. They know each other well. They can read each other’s movements, which is good.”

MORE MOLTEN NOTES

Chino Hills produced the sweep against Esperanza, but only after fending off set points against in the opening set. Esperanza was up 18-14 at one point, forcing a Chino Hills timeout.

Chino Hills went up 20-19, but Esperanza scored three straight and led 22-20. Esperanza had set points at 24-23 and 25-24 but couldn’t finish.

As it stands, Esperanza will take on South on Wednesday. That match is sure to impact the 2-AA rankings. South has a few more pieces than Esperanza and should be able to win that match.

Looking at Esperanza though, the Aztecs have some pieces and can’t be overlooked in 2-AA, especially later in the season once the team has some time to gel. One is freshman opposite Avery Stowell, who had some impressive moments against Chino Hills.

One was hitting a tip shot that landed perfectly over the Chino Hills block and in front of the back row defenders, showing great touch at an early age. Another play she went up on a 2 set, swung off a triple block and then recovered to pick up the dump attempt by Sarah Dixon into zone 4 as she was trying to take advantage of the open space. It showed nice court awareness for a freshman like Stowell.

Another solid piece for Esperanza is libero Bridget Waldrup, who had some nice ups against a Chino Hills teams with strong pin hitters.

Huntington Beach picked up victories against North Torrance and Rosary. Watching HB against North Torrance, the Oilers are young but have some things in place already.

For the first match of the season, the middles Hanna Russell and Sam Brennan were going fairly well for HB. With Cami Sanchez, a smart outside hitter who knows how to score against the block, and Anna Carroll, a lefty opposite that is rapidly developing, the Oilers should be alright when they pass the ball.

North is clearly hurting from the transfer of Harlee Kekauoha to Wilson. It leaves Sabryn Roberts as the only reliable scorer. However, after seeing both South Torrance and North Torrance on Monday, the Pioneer League favorite this season is South.

More on South, for a 2-AA team, the Spartans have some size. Oliver is listed at 6-2, while Steffey-Bean and Cortesi are at 6-even and Eastley at 5-11.

Chino Hills has the make up to be successful this season. Something that can take the Huskies to another level though is getting easy points and finding scoring other than with Meghan Buzzerio, Cherise Hennigan and Alexis Cardoza.

One such example was a quick attack pounded home by Rachel Martin in the opening set against Esperanza, tying it at 13. That’s a type of play Chino Hills needs more often. Not only does it take some pressure of the pin trio to score, it’ll also serve to open up the defense more for the pin hitters to attack.

Two more examples came when Hennigan delivered a block to close out the first set and Buzzerio came up with a block to bring up set point in Game 3. Anytime Chino Hills is scoring points without a pin hitter putting down a ball, it’s huge for the Huskies.

The pin hitters are going to score regardless, so the extra points only makes it easier for everyone.

First-round scores:

Lakewood d Pacifica 25-10, 25-19, 25-10

Mayfield d Downey 25-17, 25-15, 30-28

Rosary d South Hills 25-11, 25-10, 19-25, 25-15

Huntington Beach d North Torrance

Los Alamitos d Carson

St. Joseph v Canyon

La Canada d Warren 25-17, 25-4, 27-25

Harvard-Westlake d Torrance

Chino Hills d Mayfair 25-19, 25-12, 25-7

Esperanza d Monrovia 25-22, 25-15, 25-13

South Torrance d Millikan

Villa Park d Van Nuys 25-6, 25-14, 25-22

Second-round scores:

Lakewood d Mayfield 25-17, 25-18, 25-22

Millikan d Van Nuys 25-21, 25-14, 25-19

North Torrance d South Hills 25-17, 25-4, 25-23

Monrovia d Mayfair 25-17, 25-12, 25-11

Chino Hills d Esperanza 27-25, 25-19, 25-16

Harvard-Westlake d La Canada 25-23, 25-14, 25-23

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This is going to be a lighter edition of the Weekly Wrap, with the first week of the season set to start.

The San Diego Section could’ve held its first official contests last week, but no matches were played. In a normal week, the Weekly Wrap looks at the top stories of the past week, as well as some top performances, any relevant news and the week ahead, with a focus on some of the best matches to watch.

There were no matches last week, but there was major news nonetheless.

As has been speculated, Mater Dei has a new player and it could impact the balance of power in So Cal. Alyse Ford-Wallace was accepted into Mater Dei, an announcement she made on Twitter:

 

Ford-Wallace didn’t play high school last season, playing her freshman and sophomore seasons at Laguna Beach. She’s played on Laguna Beach 18s the past two seasons for club and is committed to USC. She’ll unite with club teammate and senior setter Payton Chang, as well as Jacqueline Wolfe, who transferred from JSerra and also plays on Laguna Beach 18s with Ford-Wallace and Chang.

It’s still unclear whether or not Ford-Wallace will have to sit out the 30-day period. Either way, she’ll be around for Trinity League play and that’s what really counts.

Ford-Wallace’s arrival highlights the state of girls high school volleyball currently in So Cal.

Terminal hitters are at a premium this season.

“It can be essential to a team’s success,” Mater Dei coach Dan O’Dell said. “If you have a big outside that can not only put balls away but do everything else, it’s the most important position on the court. The pieces are in place for us to be good. We were missing one hitter and adding a kid like her, who is one of the top outsides in the country, solidifies the pieces we already have.”

A player like Ford-Wallace that is a front and back row threat who can score against double blocks and has enough heat to put balls down is a rare commodity this season.

Part of it is some of the best aren’t playing high school this season.

Hayley Hodson, who was at Corona del Mar last fall and participated with the US National Team this winter, is being home schooled and won’t play for the Sea Kings this season.

Another is Haley DeSales, who injured her knee during the club season and will miss her senior season at La Salle recovering.

Also missing the high school season, though not quite on the same level as Hodson and DeSales yet, is Woodbridge’s sophomore Mima Mirkovic, who is also recovering from a knee injury and one of the better players in her age division.

There is a difference between a terminal hitter like Ford-Wallace and some of the other ones that are playing high school in 2014. That’s the supporting cast.

Take Fallbrook senior outside hitter Kendra Dahlke, who is committed to Arizona and was named MVP of the 18s Open at Junior Nationals. She doesn’t have the same type of supporting cast around her.

If you look at the top teams in the Top 25, what they mostly share in common is a strong pin hitter and reliable setting.

Redondo has one of the top setters in So Cal in Norene Iosia and two outsides that can score in Abril Bustamante and Yassie Bedart-Ghani. Bustamate doesn’t have the same physicality as Bedart-Ghani, but is a strong beach player and smart attacker.

Lakewood has its setter back in Shelbie Dobmeier, as well as a trio of senior pin hitters in Megan Kruidhof, Sarah Miller and Megann Delgado. Delgado is one of the best finishing opposites in So Cal.

Mira Costa doesn’t quite fit the mold as the other top teams, as outside Skylar Caputo isn’t big and physical, but another smart beach player that knows how to score.

Torrey Pines has Savannah Rennie, who might hit the ball harder than anybody. Aliso Niguel has an outside like Lindsey Ruddins, who plays on a pogo stick, as well as Kathryn Plummer, who splits a 6-2 with returning senior captain and setter Jewel Hays.

It’s no mystery why those teams are in the Top 5 to begin the season. There is familiarity between important positions on the court like setting and left-side attackers.

Not coincidently, teams 6-10 all return strong pin hitters and setters, or in Chino Hills’ case received a transfer setter in Sarah Dixon, who is committed to Arizona along with senior outside Meghan Buzzerio.

Great Oak returns a setter-pin combo in Cindy Marina and opposite Bailee Huizenga.

As much as this is supposed to be pointing out terminal hitting in So Cal, it’s also serving for an explanation of the Top 25.

That’s the reason you’ll find Mater Dei starting off at No. 18. Though there was a strong inclination Ford-Wallace would play for Mater Dei, it wasn’t official at time of the countdown. The Monarchs will just have to settle for working their way up the rankings.

As is the case with Dahlke at Fallbrook, having a terminal hitter doesn’t necessarily equate to making the Top 25. Santa Fe Christian has sophomore Lexi Sun and senior Casey Castillo, but the setting remains to be seen.

Yet, what separates the top teams too is that threat of a back row attack. Bustamante for Redondo, Kruidhof and Delgado for Lakewood, Savvy Simo and Rennie for Torrey Pines and Ruddins for Aliso Niguel are all capable back row scorers.

The scary part for Mater Dei is the previous connection between Chang and Ford-Wallace. There won’t be an adjustment period. For anyone that’s seen them play in club, you know what’s coming. If you haven’t seen them play, I recommend making a Mater Dei match or two.

Perhaps take in the Santa Margarita and Mater Dei showdowns.

Those have a family affair to them.

Chang’s younger sister, Devon, is a freshman and expected to start at setter for Santa Margarita. The younger Chang was named DailyPrepTalk.com’s Setter of the Year for the 15s Division.

Speaking of terminal hitters, Santa Margarita has one of the best up-and-coming ones in Meghan McClure. It should make for a couple fun ones between the Trinity League rivals.

MORE TOP 25 TALK

This was a difficult Preseason Top 25 to put together.

 I had one version done and ready to go, only to start over and go at it again.

The main issue is the level of parity.

People hear parity and it can have a negative connotation, like the quality of volleyball isn’t good. Parity in this case means even and not reflective of the level.

I think there are plenty of teams that can beat each other. There isn’t much difference between a lot of the teams in the Top 25 and listed in Others. As simple and boring as it sounds, in those types of matches it comes down to passing and serving and which team is doing that better.

A team like Redondo when fully healthy might have a margin of error to play with against some teams, but even a team like Redondo has a slim margin of error against quality opponents.

I also foresee some matches in league where each team wins at home. That makes it hard to rank teams when you think the location matters as to which team wins or loses.

Yet, that’s how close it is between a lot of teams, that playing on the road or at home could be the difference between winning and losing.

I’m expecting the Top 25 to change quickly. I know some might feel their team belongs in the Top 25. If they didn’t start the season there just wait, I’m sure they’ll get in there eventually.

I anticipate a lot of movement in the Top 25 this season.

I look to rank the teams off wins and losses, not personal opinion. For example, Redondo starts the season off at No. 1. Say the Sea Hawks lose a match 15-13 in Game 5 without a starter playing, my personal feeling is likely Redondo is still the best team.

Therefore, there would be no change at the top spot if I did the rankings like that. So, I would drop Redondo, probably not very far in that case, but it would drop nonetheless because of the loss.

The rankings are for So Cal, so I use wins and losses against So Cal teams first and foremost. Wins and losses to out of area teams are only relevant when deciding between two So Cal teams that haven’t played head-to-head and share that common opponent.

MORE TRANSFER NEWS

Ford-Wallace to Mater Dei and Sarah Dixon to Chino Hills were two of the bigger transfers.

Here’s a few more that I know about.

Harlee Kekauoha went from North Torrance to Long Beach Wilson. A senior opposite/setter, she’s committed to UCI.

Lexi Dorn, a junior and another setter/opposite, left Westview and is at Cathedral Catholic.

Nicole Anderson, a junior outside, left Cathedral Catholic and is at Torrey Pines.

Jamie Robbins, a junior opposite, moved from Torrey Pines to Laguna Beach.

Kashea Kloss, a sophomore outside, moved from JSerra to Santa Margarita.

Haley Halpert, a senior opposite, left Thousand Oaks and is at Westlake.

Alex Hightower, a junior middle, moved from Parker to Olympian.

Any other transfer news can be emailed to me at chris@dailypreptalk.com.

THE WEEK AHEAD

The Lakewood Molten Classic starts Monday and continues Wednesday and Saturday.

You can read more on that tournament by clicking the links for predictions and the tourney's growth.

Two other notable tourneys are Fri-Sat with the Los Osos and San Diego Fall Classic events. There’ll be more on those later in the week.

Here are the top five matches to watch:

5. No. 25 Sage Hill at Windward, Wed – A strong non-league match between teams that should make deep postseason runs in their respective divisions. Windward is a team to watch in Division 2-A, while Sage Hill won the 3-A title last season before moving up to 3-AA this season. Both teams should be ranked in Monday’s CIF preseason rankings. With the teams not in the same division, Wednesday’s outcome shouldn’t have an impact on the rankings. Yet, it’s a good early season test for both teams, as well as an opportunity to see two of the better teams in their divisions face off for bragging rights.

Prediction – Sage Hill in 4. Sage Hill returns an experienced and solid core that should allow the Lightning to open the season with a victory.

4. No. 24 Long Beach Poly at Newport Harbor, Thu – The teams have been playing this nonleague match in the first week of the season for a while now. Both teams are trying to establish identities and improve on last season. Winning this match is a good step toward that. It remains to be seen if either team will start the season ranked in Division 1-AA, but it’s possible this match could have an effect on that the following week.

Prediction – Long Beach Poly in 5. Playing at Newport Harbor can be tough, but it won’t be enough to keep the Jackrabbits from prevailing in the season opener.

3. No. 18 Mater Dei at No. 25 Sage Hill, Fri – Sage Hill doesn’t take long to get going, taking on another nonleague match against a strong opponent like Mater Dei. This is a tough match for Mater Dei in terms of perspective. A school like Mater Dei is supposed to beat Sage Hill, so Sage Hill is playing with nothing to lose. Besides that, it’s a fun match and contests like this between a bigger and smaller school should happen more often. Of course, not all small schools are as good as Sage Hill and that’s what makes this one interesting.

Prediction – Mater Dei in 4. It won’t be easy for the Monarchs. Yet, they’ll make it happen on the road after getting a good test.

2. No. 13 Marymount at No. 17 Corona del Mar, Thu – Division 1-AA is full of big matches every week and this is a great example of it. Both teams could start the season ranked in the division and there’s no doubt the outcome of this one will matter toward the rankings. The teams have started the season off against each other the past few seasons, with CdM taking last year’s match. However, both teams have relative new looks and it’s a showdown either side can take. It should make for good early season drama.

Prediction – Marymount in 5. CdM played in the Queen’s Court and that could help keep this match close. Meanwhile, Marymount could still be figuring some things out as well, so who knows how this one will go but I saw Marymount in five.

1. No. 8 Parker at No. 11 Westview, Thu – This nonleague match is going to carry a lot of bragging rights in San Diego, at least for the regular season. The way the section is set up this season, it’s possible Westview and Parker could play in the postseason. For now though, both are looking to establish themselves as one of the best, if not the best, program in San Diego. It’s also the first match of the season for both teams, so it’s a perfect way to get it going.

Prediction – Parker in 4. Top to bottom, Parker has a few more pieces and something like that should go a long way in a match like this.

Others to follow:

Redlands East Valley at Murrieta Valley, Tue – A nonleague match up between a Div. 1-A team (REV) and a 1-AA team (MV) to open the season. 

No. 15 San Clemente at Orange Lutheran, Thu – The Division 1-AA teams go at to open the season.

No. 22 Santa Margarita at Laguna Beach, Thu – A battle that will factor into county bragging rights.

No. 9 Notre Dame/SO at St. Lucy’s, Thu – A solid test for Notre Dame to begin its 1-AA campaign against the 1-A Regents. 

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Westview's Kolby Bird, right, with setter Stephanie Rolfson. (Courtesy of the Bird family)

Sidelined for much of the high school season a year ago with a herniated disc, Kolby Bird watched as her Westview teammates came close to upsetting San Diego’s top-ranked Torrey Pines before falling in five games in Palomar League action.

As difficult as it was to not be playing and contributing, Bird was in the middle of a college recruiting process that was made harder because of her injury.

She returned to the court near the end of the season.

It also coincided with Westview’s best volleyball, as the Wolverines reached the CIF State Division 2 semifinals. The run included victories over Los Osos and Oaks Christian before coming up short against Santiago.

The college process also came together, with Bird ultimately committing to the University of Miami.

Bird is one of eight seniors on the Westview roster in 2014. She starts at outside hitter, along with junior Izzy Guzik. Their presence on the left provides Westview with a reliable scoring punch and is bolstered by the return of senior setter Stephanie Rolfson.

It’s a reason Westview is expected to be in the mix for the best team in San Diego this fall.

It won’t take long for that quest to get started.

Westview hosts Francis Parker on Thursday in a nonleague match. Later in the season, Westview faces Torrey Pines twice in league play.

Westview is also competing at the Santa Barbara TOC at the end of the season, along with Torrey Pines and La Costa Canyon. Another nonleague match features Westview visiting Great Oak the day before the Durango Fall Classic.

As for Bird, she grew up around volleyball. Her parents, Russ and Kim, both played at San Diego State, as well as professionally on the beach.

Unlike her older brother, Bennett, now at BYU, Bird was into the sport at an early age. She was in the jump start program at San Diego Volleyball Club by fifth grade.

“Even though I tried other sports, I knew it was my favorite already,” she said of volleyball.

Bird recently spoke with DailyPrepTalk.com about the upcoming season, college and more.

What’s the feeling like around Westview as the season gets ready to begin?

Bird: We are so excited. We have a huge senior class. This year, we think we can win almost everything. Right after tryouts, the captains were talking with the team and it wasn’t about maybe we can. No, that’s not how it is this year. It’s ‘We are going for the CIF title.’ It’s our main goal. We only lost four seniors. We are carrying last season over into this season in terms of confidence. It helps knowing we did that last year. We are all super pumped for the season. We can’t wait for all the matches.

What are the matches with Torrey Pines like and what are your thoughts on those games this season?

Bird: We are way more pumped than any other match when we play them. All the adrenaline is going. We really want to beat them. They are our biggest rival in league. Our school rival is Mt. Carmel, but not for volleyball. We’ve been wanting to beat them for the last four years. We believe we can. We are so excited.

How do you feel about playing Parker the first week of the season?

Bird: We are really excited. That’s a tough team for a first match. It’s definitely a chance to set off the season in a positive way. We (had) a scrimmage (last) week. We’ll be focusing in on the starting lineup and how we flow together. We are hoping to start the season off with a win (this) week.

When did you start thinking about college and the recruiting process and playing at the next level?

Bird: Probably my freshman year. My older brother was being recruited for volleyball. That’s when I thought I could actually do it for college. My parents didn’t push me but they would suggest things. I knew I wanted to. People around me told me I had the ability to and I felt like I had it too.

How did Miami enter the equation?

Bird: After my sophomore year, going into Junior Nationals for club. I was getting contact from a bunch of different schools. I actually called Miami and told them I was playing at JO’s that year and to come watch me play. Part of my interest was Coach Lee (Nelson). He was an assistant at Santa Barbara when my brother was being recruited and I already knew him and loved him. I found out he was the assistant at Miami. I told them I think it would be so cool to go across country for college. I wasn’t afraid of that all. They came to a lot of my matches at that tournament.

Did any other schools interest you or were you set on Miami?

Bird: It came down to the top three of Miami, Colorado State and Oregon State. I couldn’t visit all the schools I was interested in, so I narrowed it down to those three.

Those are three varying schools in terms of location, what were you looking for in making your decision?

Bird: I have no problem leaving home. I knew I wanted to get out of San Diego. I love it, but I wanted something different. Each school had something different. It came down to which one was the perfect fit all the way around. It ended up being Miami. I’ve been there twice. I actually visited UCSB first out of all my visits. I was walking around and I couldn’t see myself on that campus. It’s hard to explain, but I wasn’t getting the vibe. My next visit was to Miami and it was the complete opposite feeling. I was just loving it there.

Did the recruiting process go smooth or were there tough moments for you?

Bird: It wasn’t a smooth process. I had a herniated disc in my back last fall and didn’t play until the very end. It was a major issue right in the middle of recruiting. It was definitely a hump I had to get over. Now I’m back and ready to play. It was a dent in the process.

You still have a high school and club season to play, but has it sunk in yet that’ll you’ll be at Miami this time next season?

Bird: Definitely. This summer I went to the camp they had. When I was there, all the incoming freshman had already been there for three weeks, since the first week of July. It hit me that I’ll actually be here in less than a year. It was just crazy. I definitely think about it a lot.

What’s the last thing you want to say before ending?

Bird: I want to give credit to the whole coaching staff at Westview, especially Coach Nancy (Ros). She’s been with me since the beginning. She works with me at club too. She leads us so well. She deserves so much credit. She is the reason why we are successful. It’s not just about the starters. It’s everyone adds to our team. We get energy from the bench players and the rest of the program as well. It makes us play better in games.

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Savannah Rennie, shown playing for Wave, is a senior at Torrey Pines this season and committed to Cal. (Photo: Jeff Antenore)

A few notes about the compiled college choices of the girls student-athletes throughout Southern California.

The list is by no means complete. I've gathered information from multiple sources listed below.

Readers are encouraged to email me at chris@dailypreptalk.com so I can add anyone I missed, or correct or add any missing or incorrect information.

Players are listed alphabetically by first name.

Format is Player Name, College (Club Team, High School Team, Position)

GIRLS CLASS OF 2015

Abril Bustamante, USC sand (Elite VBC, Redondo Union, MB)

Aly Gonzalez, Azusa Pacific University (Club West, Santiago, OH) 

Alyse Ford-Wallace, USC (Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach, OH) 

Amanda Kirtley, Cal (Club West, Aquinas, L)

Amanda Pedersen-Henry, Villanova (Coast, Vista Murrieta, MB/Opp)

 

Annie Hasselmann, UCSB (Wave, La Jolla Country Day, S)

Becca Dunn, USC sand (Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Opp)

Brittany Welsh, LSU (Long Beach, Mater Dei, MB)

Brooke Weiner, Georgia State – sand (LAVA-West, Oaks Christian, OH)

Camielle Oemcke, Boston College (Wave, Torrey Pines, S)

 

Casey Castillo, University of Hawai'i (Wave, Santa Fe Christian, OH) 

Casey Jacobs, University of North Carolina (Wave, La Costa Canyon, L) 

Cassie Knutson, Eastern Kentucky (Wave, Torrey Pines, S/Opp)

Cherise Hennigan, Seton Hall University (Club West, Chino Hills, OH)

Claire Dietrich, Cal State East Bay (Club West, Los Osos, OH)

 

Delaney Goodrich, St. Francis University (Club West, Ontario, MB) 

Emily Develle, Lehigh (SG Elite, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, L)  

Emily Bible, Point Loma (LAVA-North, Valencia, OH)

Emma Willis, University of Denver (Coast, La Jolla, MB) 

Erin Williams, LMU (So-Cal Jrs, Long Beach Poly, MB) 

 

Faith Smith, Gonzaga University (Coast, Point Loma, S)

Grace Forren, Navy (Wave, Francis Parker, OH)  

Gretchen Cash, Hofstra University (Wave, Bishop's, MB/Opp)

Haley DeSales, Washington State (Club West, La Salle, OH) 

Hannah Miller, Eastern Kentucky (Wave, Torrey Pines, OH)

 

Harlee Kekauhoa, UC Irvine (Long Beach, Long Beach Wilson, S/Opp) 

Hayley Hodson, Stanford (Tstreet, -, OH)

Katherine Brouker, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (Wave, West Hills, OH/L)

Katie Rethmeyer, Lafayette (Long Beach, Mira Costa, MB)

Katrina Kernochan, USC sand (SCVC, Mira Costa, Opp) 

 

Kayla Evans, UCSD (SDVBC, Del Norte, OH/DS)

Kekai Whitford, LMU (Prime, Sage Hill, OH/L) 

Kendra Dahlke, University of Arizona (Coast, Fallbrook, OH)

Kolby Bird, University of Miami (SDVBC, Westview, OH) 

Kristey Markle, Cal State Northridge (SVVC, El Toro, OH) 

 

Kyra Smith, Cal State Fullerton (Long Beach, Marymount, MB) 

Lauren Page, Oregon (951, ML King, MB)

Lindsey Ruddins, UCSB (Laguna Beach, Aliso Niguel, OH) 

Madison Linxwiler, Campbell University (Coast, Cathedral Catholic, MB)

McKenna Goss, Boston College (Santa Barbara, Dos Pueblos, OH/Opp) 

 

Megan Kruidhof, Long Beach State (Golden West, Lakewood, OH)  

Meghan Buzzerio, University of Arizona (Club West, Chino Hills, OH)

Mia Mason, University of Arizona (Long Beach, Marymount, S/Opp)

Morgan Kissick, Concordia University (Temecula, Great Oak, OH) - 2015

Naghede Abu, UCLA (Rancho Valley, Norte Vista, MB)

 

Natalie Martinez, Fordham University (San Gabriel, Westridge School, Opp) 

Olyvia Chaltas, Manhattan College (Temecula, Great Oak, OH)

Peyton Grahovac, Long Beach State (Golden West, Villa Park, MB)

Rachel Wilson, University of Arizona – sand (Wave, -, L)

Sarah Dixon, University of Arizona (Club West, Chino Hills, S) 

 

Sarah Miller, Long Beach State (Golden West, Lakewood, OH)  

Sascha Dominique, LMU (Rancho Valley, Redlands East Valley, MB)

Savannah Rennie, Cal (Wave, Torrey Pines, OH/MB)

Sierra Cahill, Montana Western (SVVC, Mission Viejo, S)

Skylar Caputo, Pepperdine (Sunshine, Mira Costa, L/OH)

 

Sophia Coffey, Seton Hall (San Gabriel, FSHA, S)

Tess Richman, Williams College (San Gabriel, Louisville, MB) 

Tyler Spriggs, University of Arizona (Sunshine, Marymount, OH)

Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani, Texas (Long Beach, Redondo Union, OH)

Zana Muno, UCLA (Long Beach, Notre Dame, OH/S/Opp) 

CLASS OF 2016

Alix Dreier, University of Pittsburgh (Club West, Xavier Prep, OH)

Ashley Quintilone, UNLV (SVVC, El Toro, OH)

Charlotte Robinson, UCSB (Sunshine, Marymount, MB)

Greer Moseman, University of North Carolina (Coast, Torrey Pines, L)

Jenn Wineholt, University of Virginia (Wave, Francis Parker, S/Opp)

 

Jessica Manley, University of Arizona – sand (Wave, San Pasqual, Opp) 

Jessica McRoskey, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (Wave, Our Lady Peace, OH)

Jessie Prichard, LMU (Mavericks, Santiago, S)

Julia Patterson, University of Arizona (Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, S)

Kylie Miller, UCLA (Club West, Rancho Cucamonga, S/Opp) 

 

Lauren Woodard, Notre Dame (Coast, Cathedral Catholic, OH)

Loryn Carter, UC Irvine (Club West, St. Lucy’s, Opp)

MaKayla Wolfe, UC Irvine (Club West, Santiago, MB)

Marisa Sacco, Boston College (Wave, Cathedral Catholic, L)

Mary Lake, BYU (Rancho Valley, Palm Springs, L)

 

McKenna Miller, BYU (Temecula, Murrieta Valley, MB)

Megan Rice, UCSB (West, Redondo Union, OH) 

Milan Stokes, LSU (Long Beach, Long Beach Wilson, OH)

Morgan Dewyer, Long Beach State (951 Elite, Palm Desert, S)

Natalie Anselmo, University of Arizona – sand (West, Westlake, OH)

 

Nicole Lusczak, UC Davis (Long Beach, Notre Dame/SO, OH)

Savannah Slattery, LMU (LAVA-South, Notre Dame/SO, OH)

Shannon Geraty, Pepperdine (Tstreet, Saddleback Valley Christian, MB/Opp)

Sien Gallop, University of Pacific (Epic, Francis Parker, OH)

 

***Sources include: DPT; Individual Club websites; Middlehitter.com; LA Daily News; Daily Breeze; Long Beach Press Telegram; San Diego Union Tribune; North County Times; Los Angeles Times; Orange County Register; Bakersfield.com; RichKern.com

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