Football isn’t the only season that starts this week in the Sacramento area.
It’s also volleyball time, with teams, players and coaches setting aim on league and Sac-Joaquin Section championships. And the really good programs are targeting a CIF Northern California and state title pursuit.
Following a 25-11 season and a NorCal Division II playoff showing, Rocklin opens as The Bee’s top-ranked team. Longtime Thunder coach Dave Muscarella is a 500-game winner who plans to win plenty more.
The coach smiles a lot, even during competition, and he has plenty to beam about with a host of returning players and expectations of reaching the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II section finals for the sixth time this decade, having won titles in 2010, 2013 and 2014.
Star outside hitter Kennedy Crane leads the Thunder charge. She tallied 426 kills last season. Also back are front-row players Ivana Erlanden and Allison Mick and libero Lulu Leppek. Rocklin also features freshman Alexa Watts.
Rocklin heads a star-packed Sierra Foothill League as each member is ranked by The Bee, including No. 3 Whitney, No. 5 Oak Ridge, No. 9 Folsom, No. 12 Granite Bay and No. 14 Del Oro.
Rocklin faces No. 2 St. Francis on Aug. 27.
The Troubadours fell to Oak Ridge in the 2018 Division I section finals, having won 12 section banners. Longtime coach Alynn Wright has a star in senior outside hitter Alexa Edwards, who is committed to play at Pacfic. In her three years of varsity play, Edwards has 1,619 kills.
No. 4 Ponderosa lost seven seniors from its D-II section championship team, but is still expected to be the favorites in a Foothill Valley League that also includes No. 13 Lincoln, No. 18 Oakmont and No. 20 Nevada Union.
Folsom features 6-foot-4 middle blocker Allie Hakes, who committed to BYU, one of the top women’s volleyball programs in the country. She will be put up to the task to stop all the high flyers in the SFL.
The Bee’s Top 20
Volleyball (with last year’s record)
1. Rocklin (25-11)
2. St. Francis (34-6)
3. Whitney (25-16)
4. Ponderosa (31-3)
5. Oak Ridge (19-8)
6. Pleasant Grove (27-8)
7. Rio Americano (21-15)
8. Christian Brothers (25-13)
9. Folsom (16-8)
10. Vanden (27-4)
11. Cosumnes Oaks (27-12)
12. Granite Bay (12-20)
13. Lincoln (13-8)
14. Del Oro (18-19)
15. River Valley (25-5)
16. El Camino (22-15)
17. Vista Del Lago (13-16)
18. Vacaville (19-10)
19. Oakmont (17-14)
20. Nevada Union (33-19)
Top area players
Haley Burdo, Cosumnes Oaks, Setter, Sr.
67 kills in 2018, 66 Aces, 259 digs 1,122 assists.
Emily Casner, Vanden, Outside Hitter, Sr.
206 kills and 185 blocks for the section Division III champions.
Lara Chappuie, St. Francis, Middle Blocker, Sr.
86 kills and 81 blocks for section finalist.
Kennedy Crane, Rocklin, Outside Hitter, Jr.
426 kills and 183 digs for NorCal playoff team.
Morgan Colyer, Lincoln, Outside Hitter, So.
Was an impact player as a freshman starter.
Sydney Durana, Christian Brothers, Libero, Sr.
213 digs and 49 aces for longtime section powerhouse.
Alexa Edwards, St. Francis, Outside Hitter, Sr.
572 kills, 56 blocks and 431 digs for Pacific-bound star.
Ellie Eichorn, St. Francis, Setter, Jr.
141 digs and 414 assists for longtime title contender.
Kendall Gimenez, Whitney, Outside Hitter, Sr.
323 kills, 43 aces, 69 blocks, 234 digs for playoff team.
Paige Gwaltney, Rio Americano, Outside Hitter, Sr.
211 kills and 168 digs for playoff team.
Allie Hakes, Folsom, Middle Blocker, Sr.
166 kills and 59 blocks for rising program.
Kylie Kirtlan, Oak Ridge, Outside Hitter, Jr.
214 kills and 122 digs for section Division I champions.
Lulu Leppek, Rocklin, Outside Hitter, Jr.
443 digs and 42 assists for NorCal playoff team.
Vivan Light, Pleasant Grove, Outside Hitter, Jr.
322 kills, 211 digs and 52 blocks for playoff team.
Faith Menary, Nevada Union, Outside Hitter, Sr.
240 kills, 165 digs and 43 aces for 33-game winner.
Allison Mick, Rocklin, Middle Blocker, Jr.
94 kills, 60 blocks and 19 aces for SFL powerhouse.
Ana Mora, Whitney, Setter, Sr.
54 aces, 205 digs and 784 assists for playoff team.
Sophia Overstreet, Christian Brothers, Outside hitter, Sr.
362 kills and 240 digs for playoff team.
Kate Slack, Roseville, Middle Blocker, Sr.
156 kills, 79 blocks and 41 digs for playoff team.
Annabelle Thalken, Setter, Rio Ameriacno, Jr.
162 kills, 55 blocks and 278 assists for playoff team.
- Cameron Salerno