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Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 30034 [title] => Lakewood Molten Classic Predictions [alias] => lakewood-molten-classic-predictions [catid] => 10 [published] => 1 [introtext] =>

The tournament begins Monday, with two rounds, and continues Wednesday, with one round, and Saturday, with one or two rounds.

All matches are best-of-five.

The championship and third-place match is the following Tuesday at Lakewood.

A rundown:

(at Lakewood)

Lakewood v Pacifica – 8:30 am

Winner: Lakewood. It shouldn’t take the tournament host long to record its first victory of the season and advance.

Mayfield v Downey – 8:30 am

Winner: Mayfield. This match is going to be much closer than the Lakewood result. This probably won’t be a sweep either way, but Mayfield will prevail and move on in four or five.

Rosary v South Hills – 11 am

Winner: Rosary. Another match that could be close in the first round. Watch for Rosary to get through in four.

Huntington Beach v North Torrance – 11 am

Winner: Huntington Beach. In probably the best first-round match up, Huntington Beach takes on a North Torrance team it defeated in last year’s quarterfinals. HB will prevail again, in four.

(at St. Joseph)

Los Alamitos v Carson – 8:30 am

Winner: Los Al. A favorite, Los Al moves on in three.

St. Joseph v Canyon – 8:30 am

Winner: Canyon. This is a match that could go either way, so don’t expect a sweep. Canyon in five.

La Canada v Warren – 11 am

Winner: La Canada. In a showdown between Division 2-AA squads, La Canada moves on in four.

Harvard-Westlake v Torrance – 11 am

Winner – Harvard-Westlake. The Wolverines are a bit young, but will get their first victory by winning this one in four.

(at Mayfair)

Chino Hills v Mayfair – 8:30 am

Winner: Chino Hills. The Huskies’ attack is going to prove too much for Mayfair and this one ends in straight sets.

Esperanza v Monrovia – 8:30 am

Winner: Esperanza. Another match between 2-AA teams, Esperanza looks to be improved from last season and should move on.

South Torrance v Millikan – 11 am

Winner: South Torrance. This could be another one of the better first-round matches, but South still moves on.

Villa Park v Van Nuys – 11 am

Winner: Villa Park. The Spartans are better than last season and shouldn’t have any problems in this one.

at Paramount

Redondo v Paramount – 8:30 am

Winner: Redondo. The Sea Hawks should move on with relative ease.

Yorba Linda v West Torrance – 8:30 am

Winner: Yorba Linda. The Mustangs don’t have the same squad from last season, but should be able to find a way to advance to the second round.

Notre Dame Academy v Alta Loma – 11 am

Winner: Alta Loma. In what should be a tight contest, Alta Loma moves on in five games.

Long Beach Wilson v Cerritos – 11 am

Winner: Long Beach Wilson. Wilson advances in four games.

ROUND 2            

(at Lakewood)

Lakewood v Mayfield

Winner: Lakewood. It’ll be a step up in competition for Lakewood, but probably not enough to prevent another Lakewood sweep.

Rosary v Huntington Beach

Winner: Huntington Beach. The Oilers have a deeper roster and it’ll pay off in a match like this. HB moves on in three.

(at St. Joseph)

Los Al v Canyon

Winner: Los Al. The Griffins won’t have trouble moving on in three.

La Canada v Harvard-Westlake

Winner: Harvard-Westlake. The contest has a chance at being close, but it’s likely the Wolverines keep winning.

(at Mayfair)

Chino Hills v Esperanza

Winner: Chino Hills. The Huskies could be pushed a little more, but only slightly as they advance to the quarters.

South Torrance v Villa Park

Winner: Villa Park. This is the best second-round match and one that could go either way. Flip a coin, Villa Park in five.

(at Paramount)

Redondo v Yorba Linda

Winner: Redondo. There won’t be any slowing Redondo in this one by the Mustangs.

Alta Loma v Long Beach Wilson

Winner: Long Beach Wilson. The Bruins prevail in a close four-game victory.

QUARTERFINALS

Lakewood v Huntington Beach

Winner: Lakewood. The competition starts to amp up during this round, though Lakewood will have enough to take care of the Oilers in four.

Los Al v Harvard-Westlake

Winner: Los Al. The teams scrimmaged during the preseason and when it counts for real expect Los Al to get the job done in four games.

Chino Hills v Villa Park

Winner: Chino Hills. In a showdown between Division 1-A teams, it’ll be a fun and exciting match, with Chino Hills moving on to the semis in four games.

Redondo v Long Beach Wilson

Winner: Redondo. Redondo will get tested more in this match than the first two, but it won’t keep the Sea Hawks from advancing.

SEMIFINALS

Lakewood v Los Al

Winner: Lakewood. Los Al has had Lakewood’s number recently, but that’ll change in this one as Lakewood reaches the final of its tournament.

Chino Hills v Redondo

Winner: Redondo. It’ll be a close contest between two of the better teams in So Cal this year. Redondo gets in done in five though and makes the final.

FINAL

Lakewood v Redondo

Winner: Lakewood. Lakewood defeated Redondo in five games at the preseason Oxnard tournament with Redondo not at full strength. Playing at home, the Lancers aren’t going to let the opportunity to please the fans pass by without victory.

Third-place

Los Al v Chino Hills

Winner: Chino Hills. In a meeting between 1-AA and 1-A squads, Chino Hills will have the upper hand and take down the Griffins in a spirited match. 

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1. Redondo Sea Hawks – The projected starting lineup is the strongest top to bottom and with three players holding championship match experience (Yassie Bedart-Ghani, Abril Bustamante and Norene Iosia), the Sea Hawks are the clear choice to open the season in the top spot. 

2. Lakewood Lancers – Lakewood’s senior trio of Megan Kruidhof, Sarah Miller and Megann Delgado have started on varsity since freshmen. It figures to make Lakewood one of the better teams in So Cal this season.

3. Mira Costa Mustangs – Led by Skylar Caputo, the Mustangs have a strong returning core. They reached the quarterfinals last season and could be poised for another postseason run this season.

4. Torrey Pines Falcons – With a 1-2 combo of senior Savannah Rennie and junior Savvy Simo, the Falcons should find a way to remain among the top programs in the region.

5. Aliso Niguel Wolverines – Another team with a solid 1-2 punch, the Wolverines will lean on the contributions of senior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins and junior setter/opposite Kathryn Plummer. 

6. Chino Hills Huskies – A senior trio of pin hitters Meghan Buzzerio and Cherise Hennigan and setter Sarah Dixon has the Huskies on the rise in 2014. 

7. Great Oak Wolfpack – The Wolf Pack will look to the junior trio and returning starters in opposite Bailee Huizenga, setter Cindy Marina and middle Amy Underdown to form the foundation of what could be another strong season.

8. Francis Parker Lancers – A group of returning players that includes senior outside Grace Forren, senior setter Claire Nussbaum, junior outside Sien Gallop and junior middle Jenn Wineholt keeps the Francis Parker program in solid hands.

9. Notre Dame/SO Knights – Led by senior Zana Muno, Notre Dame is looking to build on a strong playoff run last season and appears to have the supporting cast to make it happen.

10. Flintridge Sacred Heart Tologs – With up and coming sophomore outside hitter Kayla Lund anchoring the offensive attack, the Tologs should be improved from a season ago. 

11. Westview Wolverines – Having senior Kolby Bird and junior Izzy Guzik on the outside gives Westview one of the better 1-2 combos on the left and is reason why Westview could be in store for a strong season.

12. La Costa Canyon Mavericks – Senior libero Casey Jacobs and senior outside Cady Francis will give LCC reliable back row play, while senior Sierra Lyle can play multiple positions for the Mavs.

13. Marymount Sailors – The outside combo of Tyler Spriggs and Michaela Keefe gives the Sailors nice options, while the middle duo of Charli Robinson and Kyra Smith will help keep defenses honest.

14. Los Alamitos Griffins – Los Al has returning starters in senior middle blocker Sydney Beyma and junior setter Julia Patterson to guide a retooled roster.

15. San Clemente Tritons – With players like junior outside Cali Hoye, junior setter Marie Paris, senior opposite Becca Dunn and sophomore middle Cassie Stewart and senior libero Camille Davey, the Tritons stand to be an improved squad. 

16. Cathedral Catholic Dons – Junior outside Lauren Woodard gives Cathedral a player that can end points, while Madison Linxwiler, a senior, and Brennan Wilhite, a sophomore, carry height in the middle. 

17. Corona del Mar Sea Kings – The trio of junior setter/outside Jessie Harris, senior outside Katie Craig and junior middle blocker Natalia Bruening provides CdM with a solid foundation.

18. Mater Dei Monarchs – Junior setter/opposite Payton Chang and senior middle blocker Brittany Welsh are two returning starters Mater Dei will rely on this season.

19. Rancho Cucamonga Cougars – Anchored by junior setter/opposite Kylie Miller, the Cougars have players around her like senior libero Sam Frost and sophomore outside Bria Beale.

20. Valencia Vikings – A young team last year, the Vikings are improved with players like senior outside Lindsey Knudsen, senior outside/libero Emily Bible and junior opposite/middle Emily Burns back.  

21. Santa Margarita Eagles – Young but not without talent, the Eagles will have sophomore Meghan McClure and freshman Devon Chang in pivotal roster spots at outside and setter respectively, as well as senior outside Claire Archibald.

22. Long Beach Wilson Bruins – The trio of outsides Milan Stokes and Sydney Newton and setter/opposite Harlee Kekauoha should have Wilson on the upswing.

23. Santiago Sharks – Returning starters in senior setter/opposite Lauren Lee, junior setter Jessie Prichard and junior middle MaKayla Wolfe give Santiago a solid base to build around.

24. Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits – Senior Erin Williams played both outside and middle at times last season and is a key component in the Poly’s plans.

25. Sage Hill Lightning – Senior trio of outsides Kekai Whitford and Halland McKenna and setter Maddy Abbot make for a solid foundation and reason why Sage Hill can be improved from last season.

Others

Teams that could have started in or could make their way into the Top 25 at some point, in alphabetical order:

Chaparral Pumas

Dos Pueblos Chargers

Harvard-Westlake Wolverines

Huntington Beach Oilers

La Salle Lancers

Laguna Beach Breakers

ML King Wolves

Redlands East Valley Wildcats

San Marcos Royals

Santa Barbara Dons

Santa Fe Christian Eagles

St. Lucy’s Regents

South Torrance Spartans

Villa Park Spartans

Vista Murrieta Broncos

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Redondo Sea Hawks – The projected starting lineup is the strongest top to... [numOfComments] => 2 ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 30033 [title] => The parts are in place for a Redondo run [alias] => the-parts-are-in-place-for-a-redondo-run [catid] => 10 [published] => 1 [introtext] =>

The season hasn’t started yet, Redondo Union going through a multi-team scrimmage in its home gym last week.

Dressed in street clothes and sitting on the sidelines are two of the Sea Hawks’ best players in senior outside hitters Yassie Bedart-Ghani, a Texas commit, and Abril Bustamante, a USC sand commit.

Their absence is limiting, for Redondo can’t flash its full potential without their presence in the lineup. As it stands, it’s relying on junior setter Norene Iosia, a three-year varsity starter and someone who never leaves the floor, to set the pace on this day.

She finds ways to get the ball to almost everyone, including junior outside Megan Rice and senior middle blocker Kristin Hamlin. On just about any other team in So Cal, Rice, who is committed to UCSB, would be starting at outside full time. However, once Ghani and Bustamante are a go, Rice is expected to slide to the opposite position.

Hamlin, meanwhile, could be poised for a strong season. Surrounded by more than capable pin hitters and a deceptive setter, Hamlin figures to benefit the most. As she slams down a few Iosia sets, nothing takes away from that notion.

No one is disputing the talent at Redondo nowadays.

The reality is it’s been that way for the past two years going on three.

Two seasons ago Redondo finished runner up to Marymount in the Division 1-AA final. With girls like Iosia, Bedart-Ghani and Bustamante on last year’s team, it figured Redondo was positioned well to make another charge.

However, it never quite developed as Redondo was upset by Great Oak in the quarterfinals.

The combination could be lethal this season, a team with championship match experience pushed by an earlier-than-expected exit last season. Redondo both knows what it takes to put itself in position to win a CIF title and how those plans can be derailed before that happens.

“I feel that I have 12-14 kids on the team that’ll play in college,” Redondo coach Tommy Chaffins said. “We’ve had highly competitive practices. This is the most seasoned team I’ve had. Usually, I have at least one freshman make varsity but that hasn’t happened the past two years. I have two sophomores this year, but they aren’t starting. We’ve not had that at Redondo. We’ve always had sophomores and freshmen. Not having underclassmen like that this year I think is a good thing. We’ll find out.

“I hope we are motivated, period. Does a loss sting and motivate you? I don’t know, I’m always looking for motivation. Even if we won it all last year I’d be motivated.”

Redondo opens the season ranked No. 2 in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com.

Don’t expect Redondo’s approach to change because of the expectations. It’s something Chaffins takes pride in, whether the team is stocked with talent or scrapping by, the methodology behind the program remains true.

“I really don’t want to sound corny, but I encourage the kids to be the best people they can be first,” he said. “Then, when we are in the gym, I want them to be the best volleyball players they can be second. If other people think highly of us, that’s complimentary. We want to stay humble but hungry. I always like humble people.”

Redondo is likely to start the season without Bedart-Ghani, who is recovering from injury.

She should return sometime during the first month of the season. Bustamante is expected back sooner.

While there are some roster changes this season, there are switches to the schedule too.

The Bay League went through releaguing, with West leaving and Inglewood and Morningside joining. It makes the Bay a six-team league instead of five teams.

Another switch to the schedule included Redondo dropping the Dave Mohs Championships after playing in it the past two seasons and picking up the Lakewood Molten Classic in its place.

Of course, there is no change to the Bay League showdown between Redondo and Mira Costa.

Redondo is the two-time defending league champion, something that used to be synonymous with the Mira Costa program.

The annual meetings are the highlight of the league and with both returning lots of players, this year’s duels could be among the top matches in So Cal.

“I’m biased, but I think that’s the match of the year in all of So Cal every year, just because the people around the South Bay go nuts for volleyball,” Chaffins said. “I expect for us to have over 2,000 people when we play them here and I expect whatever Fisher Gym holds plus 200 more when we go over there.

“I’m really stoked for the kids to get that kind of experience. I think it helps them in college playing in front of crowds like that. They don’t get that in club.”

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[event] => stdClass Object ( ) [postType] => [link] => /girls-volleyball/high-schools/item/30033-the-parts-are-in-place-for-a-redondo-run [featuredIntroImage] => /media/k2/items/src/82a45ae0214015d3a9eabbc495704c8b.jpg [featuredImageThumbnails] => stdClass Object ( [image_620x340] => media/k2/items/cache/620x340_82a45ae0214015d3a9eabbc495704c8b.jpg [image_290x160] => media/k2/items/cache/290x160_82a45ae0214015d3a9eabbc495704c8b.jpg [image_140x90] => media/k2/items/cache/140x90_82a45ae0214015d3a9eabbc495704c8b.jpg [image_50x50] => media/k2/items/cache/50x50_82a45ae0214015d3a9eabbc495704c8b.jpg ) [featuredIntrotext] => The season hasn’t started yet, Redondo Union going through a multi-team scrimmage in its... [numOfComments] => 0 ) [3] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 30032 [title] => Great Oak isn't going away after breakout season [alias] => great-oak-isn-t-going-away-after-breakout-season [catid] => 10 [published] => 1 [introtext] =>

With his players refereeing after Great Oak lost its last match of the preseason Foothill Queen’s Court tournament last weekend, Coach Mark Motluck sat in his chair taking notes on Chino Hills, a nonleague opponent of the Wolfpack this season.

Great Oak had its best season in program history a year ago, winning its second Southwestern League title and reaching the semifinals of the Division 1-AA playoffs. The only other league title for Great Oak came in 2006, when the team advanced to the quarterfinals.

Starting his second season, Motluck is in the process of trying to establish a program capable of producing consistent contenders. Reaching the semifinals by upsetting Redondo Union and pushing Mater Dei to five games before falling is priceless advertising toward that goal.

“We had almost 100 girls tryout,” Motluck said of this season. “The program is getting bigger and deeper. Our freshman and JV teams are strong. I’m not sure you’ll find a harder working program. You may find one that works as hard, but I like to think no one works harder and that’s why we’ll be up there.

“The girls we lost are phenomenal. We have different players that are stepping up and those girls are taking on the roles of the girls that left. You accept responsibility and take on that accountability. I think if you have good chemistry, whether you have a lot of talent or not, no matter what it’s going to work.”

Graduating was outside Cadie Bates and middle Jessica Gaffney, two key components of last year’s lineup.

Their departures are sure to be felt, yet it’s not like Great Oak doesn’t have other pieces to move forward with. Most of them played meaningful minutes last season, so while the Wolfpack will have a different feel, they aren’t going away.

While Bates and Gaffney were great for their senior leadership as well, Great Oak started four sophomores last fall. They were setter Cindy Marina, middle Amy Underdown, opposite Bailee Huizenga and libero Samantha Rice and they gave Great Oak invaluable contributions.

All return as juniors to form the foundation of the 2014 roster. Senior outsides Morgan Kissick and Olyvia Chaltas each saw action on the left as juniors and are part of the plans as well. Along with libero/defensive specialist Rachel Daily, they’ll bring the senior guidance.

Another player that could see time now and is part of the future as well is sophomore outside Brynn Sherbert, who was on varsity last year.

What Great Oak is likely to miss the most is the scoring ability of Bates on the outside. At the same time, Huizenga and Underdown are both a year more experienced and improved after the club season.

Huizenga is a lefty with a heavy swing and is part of serve receive. She plays on the same club team with Marina, so their connection is spot on and makes them a dangerous pair.

Underdown might have been Great Oak’s best player in Game 5 against Mater Dei last season and she brings physicality in the middle. With Marina a more than capable setter, it makes Underdown a weapon in the middle.

With Underdown and Huizenga getting attention from defenses, it should allow the outside to open up for Great Oak when passing well.

The pieces are there, but it’s also about managing expectations that come on the heels of a great season like 2013.

“Obviously, the big goal is to win CIF,” Motluck said. “We want to do better than last year. However, to understand that and make it realistic, you have to understand the complexity of it this year because we aren’t the same team as last year. We are still the Wolfpack and our characteristics are still the same. We are working toward that culture and creating that.”

Great Oak was able to pry the Southwestern League title away from Vista Murrieta a year ago after four consecutive first-place finishes from the Broncos.

There’s no doubt Great Oak is the favorite to repeat, yet with Vista Murrieta carrying a player like Amanda Pedersen-Henry and Chaparral someone like Julia Cubbeddge, nothing is for sure quite yet.

If there was something lacking from last season it was in the nonleague and tournament schedule for Great Oak. Ultimately, it didn’t hurt the Wolfpack but those areas are strengthened this year.

Great Oak still faces Santiago in nonleague play and added Westview and Chino Hills. The program also added the Durango Fall Classic and Santa Barbara TOC to its tournament schedule. Great Oak will also play in the University Tournament, where it could meet up with Aliso Niguel, the Queen’s Court Elite Division winner.

A running joke last season was where is Great Oak. For anyone not knowing, it’s located in Temecula.

It just also happens to be the home of one of the up-and-coming programs in So Cal.

“I had my super sophomores last year with Bailee, Amy, Cindy and Sam,” Motluck said. “They all have experience and voices on the court. We have the senior leadership with Morgan, Rachel and Olyvia. To win CIF is an amazing challenge, but we also want to set a foot forward as to who we are on the court.” 

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[numOfComments] => 0 ) [4] => stdClass Object ( [id] => 30031 [title] => Coming off a CIF title, Los Al lands in similar spot [alias] => coming-off-a-cif-title-los-al-lands-in-similar-spot [catid] => 10 [published] => 1 [introtext] =>

There’s work to be done if Los Alamitos hopes to avoid what happened the last time the Griffins were coming off a CIF championship season.

The Sunset League squad finished on top of Division 1-AA in 2011 and returned two starters the following season, one that ended with the Griffins being knocked out of the playoffs in the second round by Long Beach Poly.

It was the first time in at least eight seasons Los Al didn’t reach at least the quarterfinals and the first time in three years it didn’t make at least the semis.

In 2009, Los Al finished runner up to Newport Harbor. In 2010, it lost to Long Beach Poly in the semis.

The second-round loss in 2012 was atoned for last season when the Griffins went on to capture their second 1-AA title in three seasons, finding themselves in familiar position coming into 2014.

Senior middle blocker Sydney Beyma and junior setter Julia Patterson are the only two returning starters, so here Los Al is again.

“They are the only two starters but they are also the only two kids that played any time,” Los Al coach Dave Huber said. “The other returning girls didn’t play that much last year, so they are going to have to feel their way through it.

“We can still go out and compete. We can still carry ourselves a certain way, win or lose. We want teams to know they have to work when they play us. We can still control how hard we work, the discipline we play with to get into position to win games.”

The rest of the returning cast includes senior libero Mikki Sale, junior outside Kylie Osgood, senior libero Danielle Kirkpatrick, senior middle Brittany Tuliau, junior opposite Sarah Tuioti-Mariner and senior libero Baleigh Graham.

The one luxury Los Al won’t have is time to work its way into a reshaped lineup.

Huber usually stacks the schedule early on and this season is no different. With an experienced team, it’s one thing. But with a new group learning on the fly, Los Al is likely to take some hits as it navigates its way through the first month of the season.

It includes three consecutive tournaments to begin the slate with the Lakewood Molten Classic, the Dave Mohs Championships and the Durango Fall Classic, as well as nonleague matches against Mira Costa and Long Beach Wilson.

Los Al also faces Lakewood, but that isn’t until October as part of the Steve Lewis Memorial Volleyfest. 

“There is going to be some growing pains,” Huber said. “We could lose some matches we should win. I’m hoping for the opposite and maybe we win a match we shouldn’t. There could be the struggle to find that consistency. It could be a bit of a roller coaster. We play good teams. We’ll get after it. We want that shot.”

Beyond the cornerstones of passing and serving, Los Al’s success could rest on its ability to put balls away on the attack.

Patterson, who recently committed to the University of Arizona, provides stability at the setting position. Sale gives Los Al reliability at libero and has been on varsity since her freshman season, just like middle Beyma, who is the Griffins’ best scorer.

Where last season Los Al rode the arm of Crissy Jones, now at Washington, the style this season is likely to shift to the defensive side of things.

Perhaps for the first time in a decade, Los Al has questions that need to be answered on the left.

This is a program that’s had names like Rachel Moss, Geena Urango, Emily Hartong, Jane Croson, Halli Amaro and Crissy Jones over the past 10 years.

Coming into 2014, Los Al could be relying on juniors Kylie Osgood and Hannah Wehring. Osgood played outside with Patterson on Seal Beach 16s the past club season. Though undersized, she brings ball control and passing. Meanwhile, Wehring moved from Texas, where she played at Oak Ridge last year.

She can play on both the left and in the middle, but is likely to get a chance to spend most of her time at outside.

Settling on a lineup and after dealing with the grueling first month, Los Al changes gears as it enters the Sunset schedule. This is the first time since 2009 that Los Al isn’t the clear favorite for the title. That year the team shared first place with Newport Harbor.

“Everyone is adjusting to roles,” Huber said. “That’s the thing about high school. Teams lose their leader and best player every year. The goals remain the same. The effort level should remain the same. It’s about someone taking charge and moving everyone in the right direction.”

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