The bar has always been high for Catholic high school girls’ volleyball teams in Southern California. Year after year, they are in the top 25 rankings for the state. This year, with La Salle coming off a CIF-Southern Section championship, and Mayfield coming up just short, losing in the Division 2A title game, there is only one change in the expectations. They’re higher.
Here are three things to watch for in the upcoming season.
1. Can La Salle fill the big shoes left behind, while making the jump to Division 1AA?
The Lancers were great last year, with a 32-6 record and making it all the way to the state quarterfinals, where they lost to eventual runner-up Los Alamitos. But the Lancers will be missing a big part of that championship-caliber team with the graduation of six seniors from last year’s squad.
Senior outside hitter Haley DeSales was to be their star this year, but she tore an ACL in the spring, putting her out of the picture this season. The Lancers will now turn to senior Alyssa Tavera, one of the best setters in Southern California, to lead them, and to junior Lauren Rewers, who is returning from an ACL tear last season.
As they move from Division 1A to Division 1AA, the highly competitive top division in the CIF-Southern Section, the Lancers opened Sept. 3 against a very capable Flintridge Sacred Heart. They will also have to overcome the formidable St. Lucy’s and Mayfield on their road to the postseason.
2. Can Mayfield avenge their snub from the state tournament?
The Cubs went 24-2, with their second loss coming in the CIF-SS 2A title match to Whittier Christian. The Cubs then were expecting a berth in the state tournament, but the invitation never came, and that snub left them wanting more.
“We learned a lot last year by missing that state bid. We really focused on quality, not quantity,” coach Jon Basilio told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
The Cubs have a couple players returning from last year’s squad who were key to their success: juniors Charlotte Watkins and Sarah Johnson as outside hitter and libero, respectively. The team will also have two impressive setters, senior Cailin Beadles and sophomore Andrea Raymund.
Like its Pasadena neighbor La Salle, Mayfield is making a division change as well, from Division 2A Division 2AA. The Cubs also were invited to compete in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, a showcase that features many of the nation’s top teams.
The Cubs will take on La Salle on Sept. 30 in a can’t-miss game.
3. Can Flintridge Sacred Heart take the extra step to win it all this year?
Stopped just short in last year’s CIF-SS semifinals by La Salle, the Tologs come out this season with their eyes set on this year’s championship.
Flintridge lost six seniors to graduation. But they bring back five excellent performers, including senior Sophia Coffey, playing in her final season in a Tologs’ uniform before heading off to play for Seton Hall. Joining her will be three other seniors, including Megan Bacall in the middle, who earned All-Area First Team honors last season.
The Tologs open their season in a new division, CIF-SS Division 1AA in the newly formed Mission League.
Opening their season against La Salle on Sept. 3, they will be facing a tough schedule, including formidable Marlborough on Oct. 2. Also circle Oct. 7 on your calendar, when the Tologs will be taking on Marymount in a league game.
Among the other Catholic school teams to watch this year, in what promises to be an exciting season all around:
—Look to the St. Lucy Regents to surprise some teams, with senior setter Juliet McClure leading the way.
—The Marymount Sailors move to the newly formed Mission League, where they will prove tough competitors for Marlborough and Flintridge Sacred Heart.