Fans of high school girls volleyball got a treat Saturday in El Dorado Hills.
Oak Ridge hosted the Chris Craft Memorial tournament, which has become the early-season who's who of the region's top teams and players.
And this one didn't disappoint.
Oak Ridge coach Becky Potter and her staff hosted 13 of The Bee's Top 20 teams among the 24-team fields.
"It's been a big tournament for us," Potter said. "I'm proud of the 24 teams here; it was a great turnout. We have gotten to the point now where we have to start turning teams away."
The talent was strong, too, with players like Utah verbal commit Caroline Sipiora from Vista del Lago, Granite Bay setter Taylor Nelson and outside hitter Maddy Deters and Davis senior Lyndsay Chambers.
Potter said getting this many top teams together in September gives players and coaches a chance to face the best and evaluate their squads before league play begins later this month.
"We get to see the teams we will play at sections and then realize we will be a totally different team in two months," Potter said.
Bella Vista coach Troy Songer agrees that getting such a huge talent pool under one roof this early is best for everyone.
"It's the great thing about this tournament," Songer said. "You've got so many of the top teams, and you get to see how you stack up and what you need to work on."
El Camino beat Granite Bay 2-0 to win the tournament for the second year in a row.
"It feels awesome," Eagles coach Marty Soyama said. "We watched this team grow up right here throughout the day."
Nevada Union made a great run into the semifinals with an extended match against fellow Sierra Foothill League member Del Oro in the opening round of the final bracket. The Miners, led by outside hitters Sierra Payne and Emily Segel, then defeated a higher-seeded Christian Brothers squad in the quarterfinals.
After going a disappointing 20-21 last season, Del Oro gave SFL favorite and No. 3 Granite Bay all it could handle in the semifinals.
The SFL again will be one of the strongest leagues and possibly the deepest in the Sac-Joaquin Section this season. All six teams in the league are ranked in The Bee's Top 20.
Sauna conditioning Some teams work out in gyms with air conditioning to escape the summer heat.
Some coaches in the San Juan Unified School District say their girls might be the best conditioned in the section because they have been sweating all summer.
"It's been tough, but we have just gotten used to it," said Bella Vista's Songer. "Been like this since I've been here."
Songer said he had a chance to get a new donated air conditioner for the older gym at Bella Vista, but the district couldn't approve it because the future upkeep would cost too much.
El Camino has a new AC unit being installed, and it should be ready by November or, as assistant coach Curtis Gee joked, "just the right time for air conditioning."
Granite Bay cheers Despite a loss in the Chris Craft final, Granite Bay coach Jaime Ingram was one of the happiest people in the gym.
Ingram's husband, Aaron, is Sacramento State's running backs coach. After the Hornets beat Colorado on a field goal as time expired Saturday, Ingram couldn't hold back her excitement.
"I had to ask someone to hold my phone because if the field goal wasn't good, I was going to toss it," Ingram joked between matches.
THE BEE'S TOP 20
1. St. Francis 11-0
2. El Camino 4-1
3. Granite Bay 5-1
4. Bella Vista 6-0
5. Nevada Union 6-2
6. Christian Brothers 5-2
7. Oak Ridge 3-1
8. Del Oro 9-1
9. Rocklin 8-5
10. Placer 3-0
11. Bear River 6-5
12. Rio Americano 5-2
13. Oakmont 4-0
14. Vista del Lago 0-1
15. Monterey Trail 7-3
16. Davis 3-3
17. Roseville 7-7
18. Whitney 2-4
19. Ponderosa 4-5
20. Woodcreek 4-5