Volleyball: Pumas, Cardinals seek victories in CIF openers on road

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Empire volleyball teams must win on the road Tuesday in the state playoffs to keep their seasons alive.

After falling in North Coast Section title contests, both Maria Carrillo and Cardinal Newman knew they would travel in the first round of the Northern California side of the CIF State Championships.

Maria Carrillo, the sixth seed in Division 2, plays at Los Gatos. The Wildcats fell in the Central Coast Section final to Archbishop Mitty, yet are seeded third and ranked high in the state.

This is Maria Carrillo’s fifth Nor Cal appearance. The Pumas look to win after falling in the first round a year ago. That frustrating five-set loss to El Camino followed a defeat in the section title game.

While the Pumas lost again in this season’s section championship contest, Maria Carrillo is playing strong and confident.
“We can attack from just about anywhere on the court,” said Maria Carrillo coach Jeff Nielson. “We just have to play the way we’re used to playing.”

Cardinal Newman is making its first Nor Cal playoff appearance.

Playing in Division 4, the Cardinals are the fifth seed and go to Bear River, the fourth seed. Bear River, in Grass Valley, won the Sac-Joaquin Section title. The Bruins fell in a first round Nor Cal playoff match last season.

Despite losing the NCS championship contest, Cardinal Newman is playing best when matches count most. That the Cardinals are enjoying a better season than even the most optimistic players expected is a tribute to the four seniors on the squad.

“The seniors have stepped up. They’ve led this team,” said Cardinal Newman coach Anna Waller.

The CIF tournament features five divisions, each with 16 teams divided between Northern and Southern California.

The finals are Dec. 1, at Concordia University, in Irvine.

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.