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California Top 20 girls volleyball rankings presented by SBLiveSports/Sports Illustrated

The elite have separated themselves as section championships take place up and down the state
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Section playoffs have begun. Some upsets but a lot of chalk, with favorites prevailing in many sections and divisions.

The elite Southern Section Division 1 will finish with the highly-anticipated showdown between Mater Dei-Santa Ana and Mira Costa-Manhattan Beach. Both of the top two rolled through their pools with three sweeps.

Outside of that pair, surprises included fifth-seeded Marymount-Los Angeles edging fourth-seeded Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth 25-23, 25-23, 16-25, 22-25, 15-12 and seventh-seeded Los Alamitos whipping sixth-seeded Alemany-Mission Hills by stunning scores of 25-8, 25-14, 25-23.

In other sections, early rounds have concluded. It is now big-time playoffs, with finals this weekend. After that, NorCals and SoCals proceed over eight days and then the winners head to Santiago Canyon College in Orange for the CIF State Finals.

1. Mater Dei (Southern Section, 38-2, No. 1 last rating)

In sweeps of Palos Verdes-Palos Verdes Estates, Marymount and Sierra Canyon, Isabel Clark racked up kill totals of 18, 17 and 17. Superb and consistent. Showdown with Costa will be on Saturday at Cerritos College at 7 p.m.

2. Mira Costa (SS, 39-2 , No. 2)

Mustangs swept Los Alamitos 25-16, 25-15, 25-7, Alemany 25-20, 25-13, 25-17 and Huntington Beach 25-22, 25-18, 25-22. Quite a nine-set roll. Sophomore Audrey Flanagan leads MC and another soph, Simone Roslon, has been adding to the attack.

3. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego Section, 30-4, No. 3)

Only losses in California are to Mater Dei and Mira Costa and Dons also own a win over the Monarchs. Cathedral Catholic ripped Eastlake-Chula Vista 25-21, 25-12, 25-8 in SD Section Open Division playoffs. Amanda Saeger sets the Dons and Maya Evens is the libero. That pair likely to have more success in 2023 than famed rock music duo Zager and Evans will in 2525.

4. Huntington Beach (SS, 32-8, No. 4)

Dark horse Oilers swept Alemany and Los Al and lost to Costa. Cumulative points in that loss to the Mustangs were just 75-62, indicating HB is not far behind the best.

5. Saint Francis-MV (Central Coast Section, 32-4, No. 6)

Lancers beat Menlo-Atherton 25-17, 25-14, 25-13. Taylor Williams leads St. Francis with 4.4 kills per set and Erin Curtis adds 3.9 kills per set. St. Francis’ strong season is fueled by libero Whitney Wallace and a strong supporting cast, including middle Sacha Touma. Touma recently won the Lexus Volunteer Award for founding the non-profit Bay Area Teen Services, which matches teens with volunteer opportunities.

6. Foothill-Pleasanton (North Coast Section, 34-1, No. 7)

Foothill defeated Monte Vista-Danville in five and San Ramon Valley-Danville in five to maintain a spotless league record and extend their win streak to 30. Only loss all year was a tourney tumble on August 19 to Amador Valley-Pleasanton.

7. Archbishop Mitty (CCS, 28-4, No. 8)

Monarchs, paced by sophomore Makenna Crosson and senior Katelyn Cook, are a bit under the radar in the CCS. Mitty and rival St. Francis both favored to win semifinals and collide in big Saturday showdown at Palo Alto High.

8. Sierra Canyon (SS, 34-8, No. 5)

Danica Rach leads the Trailblazers, who were edged by Marymount, then tipped Palos Verdes in five and fell to Mater Dei in a sweep. Deep Sierra Canyon also has a strong attack beyond Rach with Madeline Way and Halie McGinest.

9. Marymount (SS, 28-11, No. 9)

Great SS D1 wins over Sierra Canyon in five and Palos Verdes in five. Attack features Kate Martin and Sammy Destler, with 6-foot-5 sophomore Elle Vandeweghe stepping up.

10. Los Alamitos (SS, 31-5, No. 11)

Griffins crushed Alemany 25-8, 25-14, 25-23. Watch out for Los Al in SoCals.

11. Palos Verdes (SS, 21-12, No. 12)

Kendall Beshear and the Sea Hawks lost to Marymount in five, Sierra Canyon in five and were swept by Mater Dei. But check the scores versus the Monarchs. MD won by just 27-25, 25-17, 25-23. Cumulative points were 77 to 65. Not bad for PV.

12. Alemany (SS, 24-10, No. 10)

Rough times in SS D1 pool play with losses to Huntington Beach, Mira Costa and Los Alamitos, all in sweeps.

13. Beckman-Irvine (SS, 33-5, No. 13)

Patriots rolling in SS D3 playoffs. Picked up sweeps of Santa Monica, Marina-Huntington Beach, Village Christian-Sun Valley and Canyon-Anaheim.

14. St. Mary’s-Stockton (San Joaquin Section, 30-2, No. 14)

St. Mary’s swept Enochs-Modesto and Franklin-Elk Grove. Tough tests coming soon for relatively untested Rams.

15. Branson-Ross (NCS, 25-4, No. 15)

Branson bulled through Redwood-Larkspur by astounding scores of 25-8, 25-15, 25-14.

16. Torrey Pines (SDS, 23-5, No. 16)

Falcons drubbed San Marcos 25-14, 25-27, 25-15, 25-17 behind 24 kills from Finley Krystkowiak. Torrey Pines is off the radar but actually the second best team in the SD Section.

17. JSerra-San Juan Capistrano (SS, 29-10, Not Rated)

Lions have an amazingly diverse attack, with seven players over 100 kills for the season. In the SS D2 playoffs, they swept Millikan-Long Beach, beat Rancho Cucamonga in four sets, topped La Canada in five and then derailed Wilson-Long Beach in four.

18. Campbell Hall-North Hollywood (SS, 31-4, NR)

Vikings rolling in SS D3 playoffs with sweeps of San Marcos-Santa Barbara and Trabuco Hills-Mission Viejo, then Hart-Newhall in four and South-Torrance in four. Championship match is Saturday afternoon at Cerritos College against Beckman.

19. Rocklin (SJS, 18-9, No. 20)

The Thunder beat Johnson-Sacramento and Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove in the playoffs behind their super sophs Addy Scheitlin and Gianna Bogan.

20. Buchanan-Clovis (NCS, 22-5, NR)

Bears won competitive Tri-Valley League with a 13-1 mark. Buchanan’s attack is led by Sammie Aaron and Grace Goudy.

On the bubble: Redondo Union-Redondo Beach (SS), Harbor-Santa Cruz (CCS), Marin Catholic (NCS), San Ramon Valley (NCS), St. Ignatius-San Francisco (CCS).

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