One volleyball team finished on top of the Sac-Joaquin Section last fall and celebrated the championship well into the winter. The other is still stinging after coming up short.
Christian Brothers, defending Division III champion, enters the season top-ranked by The Bee. The Falcons are led by returning All-Metro player Nastassja Bowman, a senior setter who was a dominant outside hitter last season and is headed to SMU, and junior outside hitter Ashlynn Fresques and senior outside hitter Lauren Oversteet. The Falcons are coached by Diane Heine, who has won one NorCal title and seven section championships.
CBS opens the season at longtime rival and No. 3 St. Francis on Sept. 3 in the annual Holy Court match.
“I’m excited about the team leadership,” Heine said. “They’re such inspiring role leaders.”
St. Francis coach Alynn Wright, inducted into the section Hall of Fame on Sunday, has led the Troubadours to 12 section titles. Last year, her team lost in the section and NorCal Division I final to Granite Bay, which capped a 45-0 season as the section’s first large-school state champion.
Other top returning players this season include setter Libby Deters and middle blocker Brooke Hershberger of No. 2 Granite Bay; outside hitter Mikaela Nocetti, setter Devin Herenda and middle blocker Elizabeth Dahlberg of No. 4 El Camino; outside hitter Maddie Haynes of No. 5 Rocklin; libero Kelly Krigger of No. 6 Oak Ridge, middle blocker Sumeet Gill and outside hitter Kayla Williams of No. 7 Pleasant Grove; middle blocker Kyra Rogers of No. 8 Oakmont; middle hitter Samantha Shelton of No. 9 Whitney and setter Maddie Merlino of No. 11 Rio Americano.
Jesuit, which enters the soccer season top-ranked by The Bee, No. 1 in the state and sixth nationally by www.topdrawersoccer.com, lost to Granite Bay 2-1 in double overtime in last season’s Division I final.
Granite Bay is ranked No. 2 by The Bee, No. 2 in the state and No. 33 nationally.
Jesuit coach Paul Rose, winner of a state-leading 708 games and a regional-record 10 section championships over 35 seasons, said he likes his team and the expectations.
“We can be really good, but we have work to do,” Rose said.
Jesuit keeper Luc Barbe anchors a strong defense, and strikers Gonzalo Garcia and Diego Buesrostro lead the offense.
Granite Bay lost its top four scorers from last season, but coach Steve Fischer returns midfielders Zach Vane and Corban Anderson and keeper Daniel Bohnett.
No. 3 Capital Christian, a small-school power and the two-time defending Division VI champion, is led by Zach Fort, Taylor Garcia and Paul Herscowitz.
Kristian Heptner, the area’s leading scorer last season with 36 goals and 81 points, paces No. 4 Christian Brothers, the defending section Division III champion.
Jesuit and CBS are hoping to play later this season at Bonney Field, home of Republic FC. Barbe and his teammates, who regularly attend Republic FC matches, said Jesuit is determined to finish on top this fall.
“Nothing motivates us more to win a section championship than losing one,” said Barbe, a senior preseason All-America headed to West Point next year.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.