Nationally-ranked Mater Dei and Marymount — who battled for local supremacy in girls’ volleyball most of 2017 — are again expected to challenge one another for top honors in 2018, based on early season national rankings.

The Monarchs are No. 3 and the Sailors No. 5 in Maxpreps’ preseason poll issues Aug. 15. Mater Dei defeated Marymount for the CIF-SS Division 1 and SoCal Regional Open Division titles in 2017, after Marymount (31-9 in 2017) had defeated Mater Dei (37-6) during the regular season to earn the regular season-ending No. 1 slot.

This year, Mater Dei returns most of its top players, including junior Mia Tuaniga and senior Natalie Berty, tabbed as Maxpreps preseason All-Americans. Coach Dan O’Dell’s Monarchs won their first two matches last week (including a win over always-tough Sierra Canyon), and are pointing toward the opening of Trinity League play Sept. 11.

Coach Cari Klein’s Sailors likewise have won their first two matches of 2018 (one over highly-rated Temecula Valley), and feature several veterans, including seniors Devon Newberry (a Maxpreps preseason All-American, committed to UCLA), Grace Frohling (University of San Diego), Taylor Fourticq (Penn) and Camryn Carfino (Colgate).

Marymount (which opens Sunshine League play Sept. 7) plays Mater Dei in a non-league match Oct. 4 in Santa Ana that may determine the No. 1 seed for the post-season that begins in late October.

But both schools — besides playing rugged non-league schedules — will also have to contend with Santa Margarita, which won the state Division I title in 2017 and won its first two matches of 2018 before dropping one Aug. 21 to Great Oak of Temecula. Coach Katy Daly’s Eagles host Marymount in a non-league match Sept. 4 and play Mater Dei twice in Trinity League action (Sept. 12 and Oct. 2).

(Maxpreps’ No. 1 team is Walton of Marietta, Ga., last year’s national champion with its entire roster returning this year.)

Among other Catholic “Teams to Watch” in the CIF-SS preseason poll:


  • Division 3: Notre Dame Academy began the season 2-2.
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  • Division 4: Bishop Montgomery defeated Notre Dame Academy in its Aug. 16 opener, 3 sets to 1, and defeated Torrance 3-0 on Aug. 23; Chaminade won four straight after losing its opener, and plays Aug. 27 at Santa Paula.
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  • Division 5 St. Anthony beat Serra 3-0 in its Aug. 21 opener and plays in the St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy Tournament Aug. 25. In addition to the host school, Bishop Conaty-Loretto, Mary Star, Rosary, Serra and St. Bernard are part of the 15-team field.
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Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).

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