By Jeremy Balan
With the basketball season just peeking over the horizon, four girls volleyball teams are still vying for gym time with their winter counterparts.
The four teams will be competing in their respective section semifinals this week. Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Ignatius are competing in the CIF-Central Coast Section Division III tournament, University is competing in the CIF-North Coast Section Division V tournament and Waldorf in the NCS Division VI tournament.
“It’s not an easy task,” said Sacred Heart coach Margi Beima. “We don’t take it for granted. This is what we [prepare for].”
The fourth-seeded Irish (26-10) are seeking their fourth consecutive section championship and are looking to extend their streak of two consecutive state championship appearances.
Sacred Heart will face off against top-seeded Aptos (31-5) on Thursday, but they will be in a familiar situation. The Irish were the fifth seed in last season’s semifinals when they knocked off then top-seeded Aptos decisively in three games.
“We hope it happens again, but you can’t look ahead,” Beima said. “We only look at the team across the net.”
Sacred Heart’s rival, St. Ignatius (31-6), sits on the other side of the bracket as the third seed, and will face off against another West Catholic Athletic League rival in seventh-seeded Valley Christian of San Jose (18-17) on Thursday.
St. Ignatius won their regular-season meeting in three games, but the Warriors are on a tear and upset second-seeded Burlingame in a five-game thriller in the quarterfinals.
“We’re excited to be here, but this is the toughest part of the season,” said St. Ignatius coach Lisa Becerra. “We expect them to be pumped up and we’re going to have to combat that enthusiasm with being calm and disciplined. All the teams know it’s one [loss] and you’re out.”
Just like Sacred Heart and St. Ignatius, University is facing a league foe in a rematch in the NCS semifinals. The difference, however, is that the third-seeded Red Devils (22-8) were not on the winning side of their two meetings with second-seeded Marin Academy, including a heartbreaking five-game loss in the Bay Counties League West title game, in which University jumped out to a 2-0 lead in games.
“In any competition, you’re always looking for some redemption,” said University coach Ki Choi. “But we’re looking at this match thinking we’re fortunate enough to know the players. It won’t make up for the losses before.”
Still, University hasn’t won an NCS title since 2003, and Marin Academy has knocked the Red Devils out in the semifinals in the past two seasons.
“The roadblock we’ve had [in recent years] has been Marin Academy,” Choi said. “When you play a team as many times as we have, there’s not much as expectations go. We know it is going to be a tough match.”
Waldorf (17-7), unlike the others, will not face a familiar foe in second-seeded Pacific Union Prep (22-2). The Wolverines are seeking their first-ever NCS title.