Girls Volleyball Top Ten Preview: We start where we left off, with St. Lucy’s and Chino Hills on top

Chino Hills players, from left, Karly Shockey, Shelley Anderson and Heather Trueman, and St. Lucy’s players, from left, Jasmine Warmington, Jackie Macy and Arianna Sifuentes will once again lead their teams as they duke it out for Sierra League supremacy. (Frank Perez / Correspondent)

By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
It may be difficult to duplicate the drama that unfolded at Cypress College in last year’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA girls volleyball final between St. Lucy’s and Chino Hills. After splitting matches during the regular season, the Sierra League rivals met for a third time in the title match, with every game hotly contested.
In the end, St. Lucy’s overcame a first-game loss to post a 22-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-20 victory over the Huskies to claim the school’s first divisional volleyball title. With the 2011 girls volleyball season starting this week, there should be no surprise as to who leads the San Gabriel Valley Tribune’s top-10 rankings. (To continue rankings, click thread)

1. St. Lucy’s
2. Chino Hills
3. Claremont
4. Bonita
5. Bishop Amat
6. South Hills
7. Los Altos
8. San Dimas
9. Walnut
10. La Puente

No. 1: St. Lucy’s

The Regents are not only the area’s top-ranked team, but are on top of the Division 2AA poll after finishing 32-10, winning a third straight Sierra League title, a CIF title and advancing to the CIF-State regional finals.

The Regents’ first order of business is finding replacements for its three big standouts: outside hitter Deanna Dalton, the Tribune and Division 2AA Player of the Year, middle blocker Alyssa Young and emotional and block leader Megan Callen.

“We’re looking to four-peat as league champs,” St. Lucy’s coach Sean Douglas said. “We lost some big-time players, but are returning some of the best players in the area.”

One of those Douglas is referring to is senior setter Jackie Macy, the only returning All-CIF first-team starter, who already has verbally committed to prestigious Colgate.

Outside hitter Jasmine Warmington also will play a big role. She’s a third-year starter and returning Sierra League first-teamer who led the Regents in kills last year.

Regents senior libero Arianna Sifuentes was also a Sierra League first-team standout after leading St. Lucy’s in digs and passing efficiency, and this is her third year starting.

Others to watch are senior outside hitter Mandara Hogarth, senior defensive specialist Ashley Rivera and junior outside hitter Arden Davis, a key off the bench a year ago.

There are also two newcomers in junior middle blockers Marissa Hageman and Diana Rohrer, giving St. Lucy’s a strong chance to repeat as league and CIF champs.

“I’m really excited about our players who are stepping into the starting roles,” Douglas said. “(Rohrer and Hageman) have both shown significant improvement this summer.”

With Chino Hills and Claremont expected to battle it out with St. Lucy’s for the Sierra League title, Douglas said all three will be well-prepared for the playoffs.

“This will be the strongest the Sierra league has ever been; it may be the toughest in (Division 2AA), too,” Douglas said. “Chino Hills is back strong, Claremont has the most physically talented roster in the league, and South Hills and Ayala finished first and second in the Ayala summer league. Every night will be a battle and it’s up for grabs this year.

“I would say us and Chino Hills are the favorites based off of last year, but if Claremont gets hot, they can beat anybody.”

No. 2: Chino Hills

The Huskies graduated captain Jordyn Siko and five other seniors from last year’s CIF finals group, but they do return a talented lineup.

All-CIF first-team outside hitter and senior Heather Trueman is back, along with junior all-league first-team setter Shelley Anderson.

Two other seniors expected to make huge contributions are Karly Shockey and Katie Morley.

“We’re anticipating a tough season this year in the Sierra league,” Huskies coach Dana Buzzerio said.

“St. Lucy’s will be strong and well-coached as usual. They’re the team to beat as the reigning CIF champions with many returning players and plenty of talent to reload.”

No. 3: Claremont

Although the Wolfpack finished fifth in the Sierra League and 9-16 overall, they were ranked 10th in the preseason Division 2AA poll, and some believe they could challenge for the league title, despite having St. Lucy’s and Chino Hills in the same league.

Wolfpack coach Chris McDermott said they return everyone but one graduated senior, and the reason for optimism is they had three freshmen and six sophomores on varsity last year yet were still competitive with the top teams in league.

“We have a lot of potential, that’s for sure,” McDermott said. “We only got beat real good three or four times last year; most of the time we went four or five games and lost because of youth and inexperience.

“We have a tough league and that’s what we’re going to fight. If we can get over the mental hump, we’ll be all right.”

The Wolfpack are led by outside hitters Taylor Scott and Briana Holmes, along with Briana’s younger sister Ariana, a junior middle blocker.

With returning setter Rylee Jackson, they have the nucleus to compete.

No. 4: Bonita

The Hacienda League champion Bearcats were 21-4 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2A playoffs and have a solid team returning, led by All-Hacienda League first-team seniors Victoria Dennis (outside hitter) and Melissa Katherman (libero).

With senior setters Kassandra Mejia and Danielle Lines and and 6-foot-2 middle blocker Briana Kennedy, Bearcats coach Adriana Contreras has a strong nucleus, which is why the Bearcats opened the CIF-SS Division 2A poll ranked fifth.

No. 5: Bishop Amat

The Lancers are hoping for a much better showing in 2011, with five returners back from an 11-10 team that finished fourth in the Del Rey League.

Leading the way is senior setter Amanda Stone, a vocal player who keeps everyone on the same page.

Senior middle blocker and co-captain Rachel Seals and outside-hitting senior Megan Bowcock give the Lancers strength up front.

Junior middle blocker Jillian Nobles is also key, along with senior outside hitter/ libero Leilani Hobayan, arguably the team’s most versatile player.

One freshman to keep an eye on is setter Jewels Tavera, already a big part of the Lancers’ offensive scheme.

“My expectation for this team is to be competitive every time,” Lancers coach Rich Huynh said. “We don’t get caught up in the hype of the rankings, we go about working hard and try to put our best foot forward.

“This team has veteran leadership as well as youthful energy. I believe they have what it takes to compete for the Del Rey League title.”

No. 6: South Hills

The Huskies finished 19-11 and fourth in the difficult Sierra League, losing to La Salle in the first round of the Division 2AA playoffs.

The Huskies, though, return seven players, including first-team all-league standout Marisa Gomez, a senior outside hitter starting her fourth season on varsity.

Senior setter Sydney LaFollette is back for her third season on varsity, as is second- team all-leaguer Zoe Herrera, the team’s libero.

No. 7: Los Altos

The Conquerors finished second in the Hacienda League behind Bonita, compiling a 25-9 overall mark just two years after winning a CIF- SS divisional title in 2009.

Although the Conquerors lost super senior Jazmine Russell to graduation and Wake Forest, senior outside hitter Savannah Blackiston is a returning first-team standout ready to take over and lead the way.

Senior outside hitter Brittany Fulton and senior setter Nancy Ramos round out an impressive big three.

No. 8: San Dimas

The Saints, No. 6 in the Division 3A preseason rankings, are the defending Valle Vista League champions after a perfect 12-0 record in league in 2010. The Saints finished 22-5 overall.

They did, however, lose co- captains and impact players Courtney Hine and Nicole Ellis, but senior middle blocker Kaileen Mejia is back, along with a few others.

No. 9: Walnut

The Mustangs were 13-14 overall and finished fourth in the Hacienda, but are usually among the Valley’s upper-echelon teams.

Senior hitters Krystle Ervin and Hannah Pope are returning all-league players after leading the Mustangs in kills – Ervin was tops with 152 and Pope finished with 122.

No. 10: La Puente

The defending Montview League champions were 17-7 overall and 13-1 in league, just ahead of second-place Azusa.

Junior Elisa Valenzuela led the Warriors in kills as a sophomore with 214. The Warriors also return four players who made varsity last season as freshmen, including talented 5-foot-10 Carolina Urquieta, who had 115 kills last season.

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  • patrick

    @ Fred,

    Why no mention of Diamond Bar?? They had a great post season last yr and return argueably the best player in the league and if im correct , didnt they beat Bonita once last season???

  • patrick

    Okay correction, DB didnt beat Bonita, but they were competitive!

  • Get it right

    The setter for South Hills is Sydney West, not LaFallotte.

  • Regents in the House

    St. Lucys: 3 Los Osos: 0. Congrats Regents. Way to start the season off right.

  • DeepDish

    What happened to the senior setter-Hunter(?) at South Hills? Is she not playing this year? Would have to agree that DB deserves a nod here. I think they will have another good season and Torres will be a force in getting them into the post season. Nice to see San Dimas on the Top 10-New coach could do a lot with the girls on this team. Next week Bonita meets St. Lucys-could be a good one.