High school volleyball notes: St. Francis has 12 section banners but isn't through yet

Published: Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 9C

A model of consistency for 24 years, Alynn Wright is no stranger to winning.

The St. Francis High School girls volleyball coach since 1989 has won 12 Sac-Joaquin Section championships in three divisions, most recently a Division I title with a 3-0 victory over Granite Bay on Thursday at UC Davis.

It was the second D-I title in a row for the Troubadours, who won six D-III crowns in seven years from 1999 to 2005 and D-II titles in 2007 and 2009. In the past 14 seasons, St. Francis has played in 12 section title matches and won 10.

Winning doesn't get old for Wright.

"We have many steps to go, but this is exciting," she said.

Wright feels the work the team does behind closed doors breeds intensity and focus in front of crowds.

"This group of girls has worked very, very hard," Wright said. "The chemistry is great, and they get along very well. The thing that helps is that we battle in our gym day in and day out."

Led by seniors Gabby Palmeri, Allie Wegener and Loni Kreun, St. Francis looks to better its Northern California semifinal finish last season, hoping for a shot at its first state title since 2005 in D-III.

St. Francis was awarded the top seed in the D-I NorCal bracket and will play host to No. 8 Skyline-Oakland in the first round Tuesday night.

Granite Bay was seeded No. 2 but will play at Lowell-San Francisco on Tuesday because Lowell was a section champion. If Granite Bay beats Lowell, the Grizzlies would play at home Saturday in a NorCal semifinal.

Bear River rolling – The Bruins cruised through the D-IV section playoffs, losing just a set to Ripon Christian in the championship match en route to the school's first section title since 1998 and the first for fifth-year coach Matt MacDonald.

MacDonald found a recipe from 2011 D-IV state champ Union Mine.

"We took a page out of Union Mine," MacDonald said. "(They) played the toughest schedule out of anybody last year … and that is what it took for us. We tried to get the best schedule we could just to be ready for adversity stuff we had to face in (the section championship)."

The Bruins had regular-season wins over D-III section champ Oakmont, Pioneer Valley League co-champ Placer and Delta Valley Conference co-champ Davis, and secured a section title thanks in part to senior outside hitter Sara Schell.

"I have had her almost the entire time I have been a varsity coach. We are going to miss her like crazy," MacDonald said of his kills leader.

Bear River is the No. 4 seed in D-IV and will be host to Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa on Tuesday. Schell said the senior-heavy team is ready for a deep postseason run.

"Everybody wants to keep going," she said. "No one wants this to end. We have nine seniors, so we want to go as far as we can."

NorCal brackets – D-II section champ El Camino is the No. 2 NorCal seed and will be host to Chico.

Coming off the first section volleyball title in school history, Oakmont is the No. 4 seed in D-III and will be at home against Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco. Section D-III runner-up Vista del Lago is the No. 7 seed and travels to Valley Christian-San Jose.

Woodland Christian is the No. 5 seed in D-V but was awarded a home match against No. 4 Notre Dame-Salinas as a result of its section title.

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