American River, Granite Bay to play in state volleyball finals

The American River College women’s volleyball team, which this season captured the program’s first Big 8 Conference title, will make its first appearance at the state championships in nearly 20 years when the four-team tournament begins on Saturday.

ARC (26-3), ranked No. 3 in state, will play No. 2 Irvine Valley (23-0) at 4 p.m. in the first round of the double-elimination CCCAA Women’s Volleyball State Championships at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

The Beavers, winners of their last 19 matches, reached the tournament with wins over Hartnell, Gavilan and Fresno City in the Northern California Regionals. ARC’s last appearance at the state championships came in 1995.

Led by conference MVP middle blocker Nicole Hareland, ARC went 14-0 in Big 8 play and achieved a program-best No. 2 ranking in Northern California. The winner of the Beavers’ opening-round match will play either state No. 1 Cabrillo (28-0) or No. 4 Grossmont (28-3) on Saturday evening.

Two of ARC’s losses this season came against Cabrillo, of Aptos. A Southern California program has won the state championship in each of the past 36 years.

– Matt Kawahara

• Led by seniors Nicolette Pinkney, Maddy Deters and Taylor Nelson, Granite Bay will play Los Alamitos for the CIF Division I state championship at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Santiago Canyon College in Orange.

Granite Bay (44-0) defeated rival St. Francis in the NorCal final on Tuesday. It was the Grizzlies’ fourth victory over the Troubadours this season, including for the Sac-Joaquin Section D-I championship.

Los Alamitos (35-5), which defeated Mater Dei in the SoCal final, is led by senior outside hitter Crissy Jones

– Bee Sports staff