Players on the Granite Bay High School girls volleyball team are so close it's downright eerie.
Three of the Grizzlies' top players are juniors. Their numbers on the court are almost identical, and off the court, the girls are almost inseparable.
Granite Bay will visit St. Francis for the CIF Northern California Division I title Tuesday at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the state championship at Concordia University in Irvine on Saturday.
Outside hitters Nicolette Pinkney and Maddy Deters are incredibly close statistically.
Entering Saturday's 3-0 NorCal semifinal victory over visiting California-San Ramon, Pinkney led the Grizzlies with 244 kills, and Deters had 243. Pinkney had received 304 serves, Deters 302. And both had 271 kills.
The bond is even tighter off the court for Deters and fellow junior Taylor Nelson.
"Taylor and Maddy are essentially best friends and have been forever," coach Jamie Ingram said. "They are a couple days apart on birthdays, and they live next door to each other. It's pretty funny listening and watching the two of them."
In her fourth year at Granite Bay's helm, Ingram has guided the Grizzlies to the best season in the program's history.
"I can't really take credit for anything," Ingram said. "I have been very fortunate to have great athletes and a great group of girls with a strong desire to win."
St. Francis avenges All season, the Troubadours kept one thought: Don't forget 2011.
After winning the Sac-Joaquin Section title and looking ahead in the NorCal bracket, St. Francis fell to Menlo-Atherton 3-0 in the second round last season. Despite their impressive performance this season, the loss stuck with the Troubadours, top-ranked by The Bee and 18th nationally by MaxPreps.
Saturday at home, St. Francis avenged the loss with a 3-1 win over Menlo.
Led by senior Gabby Palmeri (23 kills, 25 digs) and junior Ali Koumelis (56 of the team's 66 assists), St. Francis will seek the program's second NorCal title and a shot at its second state title. In 2005, the Troubadours won the state Division III championship.
Eagles soaring El Camino has lost just one set in five playoff matches and reached the program's first NorCal final.
The Eagles got another strong performance from senior Cassidy Denny and a huge game from junior Erianna Williams to sweep visiting Maria Carrillo-Santa Rosa 3-0 Saturday in Division II. They'll face host Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, ranked No. 2 nationally, Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Bear River falls The Bruins lost 3-1 at top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton in the NorCal Division IV semifinals Saturday. Led by senior Sara Schell, they had won their first section title under coach Matt MacDonald.