Sixteen Catholic high school girls’ volleyball teams — who may or may not care for the adjective “sweet” to describe them, given the fiercely competitive nature of the sport and those who play it — are among the “Teams to Watch” in the initial CIF-Southern Section poll for the 2019 season.

The list, issued Aug. 12, includes defending Division 1 champion Mater Dei and runner-up Marymount, who battled last year for supremacy and figure to do likewise this season. Mater Dei ended the 2018 regular season ranked first in the weekly CIF-SS poll with Marymount third and Santa Margarita sixth.

In addition to the Monarchs, Sailors and Eagles, the combined Divisions 1 & 2 poll includes St. Joseph of Lakewood and Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, who ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in last year’s final D-2 poll. Notre Dame beat St. Joseph in the D-2 quarterfinals, then lost in the semis.

Other Catholic schools on the “Teams to Watch” list are La Salle (D-3); Louisville and St. Anthony (D-4); Bishop Amat, Immaculate Heart and La Reina (D-5); St. Bonaventure and St. Genevieve (D-6); Sacred Heart and Villanova (D-7); and San Gabriel Mission (D-9).

A year ago, Alemany was sixth in the final D-3 poll and reached the quarterfinals. Three other Catholic teams made their respective semifinals: Bishop Montgomery (D-4), St. Anthony (D-5), and Villanova (D-8).

The regular season ends in mid-October, with CIF-SS playoffs starting Oct. 22 with wild-card play and continuing to the finals Bov. 8-9. Southern California Regional play is Nov. 12-19, and the State Finals will be held Nov. 22-23.

Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).

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