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Carrillo, RVC grab top NCS seeds

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A pair of top seeds and some tough playoff pairings position Empire girls prep volleyball teams for the North Coast Section playoffs.

Going undefeated in North Bay League play including the league tournament title earned Maria Carrillo — a three time section winner — the top seed in Division 2, where the Pumas could face last year’s section runners up Redwood in the final. Rincon Valley Christian is No. 1 in Division 6.

“It’s fantastic,” said Maria Carrillo coach Jeff Nielson. “Being at home for the playoffs as long as we can win is a benefit. We’re playing really well.”

The Empire’s other large school team with the best shot at a deep playoff run is Sonoma Valley. The Dragons were given the fourth seed in Division 3 after winning the Sonoma County League tournament title following a three way tie atop the league in match play.

“Our defense and hitting has been much more consistent. We’re firing on all cylinders,” said Sonoma Valley coach Mindy Neves.
With more than 20 teams in the section playoffs, the Empire is well represented. The SCL has six teams, the NBL four, and the various North Central Leagues are sending a dozen teams to the section playoffs.

“What’s great is so many teams from Sonoma County are represented. Up here we play pretty good volleyball,” Nielson said.

Maria Carrillo leads the way, ranked No. 1 in Division 2. The Pumas could play at home through a title match as the squad aims for the school’s first section championship in five years. The top seed is a result of the club playing difficult tournaments and finishing undefeated in the NBL.

“We tried to challenge ourselves. We’re playing well and are on a roll,” Nielson said.

Montgomery and Casa Grande host opening round matches in Division 2.

Sonoma Valley’s reward for finishing strong in league play is a first-round bye. Then the Dragons host Miramonte, seeded third in the Division 3 bracket.

The Dragons got a confidence boost from winning the SCL tournament after finishing in a three-way tie with Analy and Petaluma in the regular season league play.

“We’re going to have to beat everybody anyway, so we might as well play the best early,” Neves said.

Division 3 is a tough one with second-seeded Campolindo coming off a state title and top seed Bishop O’Dowd moving down from Division 2, where it won a section title and a Northern California tournament match.

Analy gets a first-round bye, but then must travel to play Albany. Petaluma hosts Eureka in a first-round match, but a win puts them at Campolindo.

“We have a really tough division. It’s just a whole big pool of really good teams. It’s going to be a battle from the get-go. That’s what Sonoma has been doing all season,” Neves said.

Cardinal Newman is the top Empire seed in Division 4 with the fifth spot, opening at home with Lower Lake. St. Helena hosts Healdsburg in another Empire match up.

A win sends Cardinal Newman, second in the NBLstandings, to Berean Christian in Walnut Creek. The Cardinals lost a tight 3-2 match to Berean Christian early in the season.

“We would love to see them again. That would be a great match,” said Cardinal Newman coach Anna Waller.

A young squad with only four seniors, Cardinal Newman wants to make a deep playoff run to build confidence for next year.

“We’re playing great. So, we feel good going into the playoffs,” Waller said.

At least Cardinal Newman can count on playing at home in round one. A week ago the Cardinals played at Montgomery in the NBL tournament because of Tuesday night bingo at their gym.

The Empire commands Division 6. Rincon Valley, where Waller coached, is the top seed. Looming is a final with second seed Anderson Valley. Mendocino is third and gets the winner of Geyserville at Sonoma Academy.

Wednesday's schedule

NCS Girls Volleyball
FIRST ROUND
All games at 7 p.m.

DIVISION 2
Ukiah (13) at Carondelet (4)
Newark Memorial (10) at Casa Grande (7)

DIVISION 3
Eureka (10) at Petaluma (7)

DIVISION 4
Cloverdale (16) at Salesian (1)
Healdsburg (8) at St. Helena (9)
Lower Lake (12) at Cardinal Newman (5)
Clear Lake (10) at Justin Siena (7)
El Molino (14) at St. Patrick-St. Vincent (3)

DIVISION 5
Upper Lake (13) at Marin Academy (4)
St. Vincent (10) at College Prep (7)

DIVISION 6
Rio Lindo Adventist (9) at Chinese Christian (8)
Geyserville (11) at Sonoma Academy (6)