When the dust settled after a wild week of high school volleyball, a new No. 1 team emerged.
At 17-0, El Camino is the top dog after winning two tournaments, including the Carmichael Invitational, where it beat No. 9 Rio Americano. The Eagles have the best record in the Sac-Joaquin Section and will be challenged this week against No. 2 St. Francis on Thursday.
It’s rare to see a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown, despite area coaches continuing to schedule tough opponents in nonleague play to prepare for league schedules.
El Camino, seeking the program’s fourth section championship since 2009 with coach Marty Soyama, also beat No. 5 Rocklin last week 3-0. The Eagles are a veteran team headed by four-year setter Devin Herenda, outstide hitter Mikaela Nocetti (MaxPreps California Player of the Week) and middle blockers Libby Dahlberg and Kate Nicknig (led state in blocks last week). All of the Eagles’ starters are seniors.
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St. Francis, with one of the more tall lineups in the section, also made a strong argument to be No. 1 after the host Troubadours beat previous No. 1 Christian Brothers 3-1 in the annual Holy Court and previous No. 2 Granite Bay.
But El Camino was previously ranked third and St. Francis fourth, and El Camino won an earlier tournament that included the Troubadours.
The teams will decide it on the floor Thursday. CBS, meanwhile, responded from the St. Francis setback by winning six of its next seven matches behind senior Nastassja Bowman, who led the Falcons in kills and aces last season and now plays setter in an example of versatility.
Streak busters – St. Francis halted Granite Bay’s area-record 46-match winning streak with a 3-2 victory on Thursday. Granite Bay last lost in 2012, to St. Francis in the Northern California Division I finals. The Grizzlies went 45-0 last season to become the section’s first D-I state champion, beating St. Francis in the section and NorCal finals.
Granite Bay slid to No. 7 as it lost to new No. 6 Oakmont on Saturday in another example of how deep the Top 10 is. Granite Bay is led by Brigid Bell and Brooke Hershberger.
Rising fast – Rocklin is led by hitter Maddie Haynes, who competed for the USA under-18 team in the Continental Championships during the summer in Costa Rica, and setter Megan McBroome. An emerging player for the Thunder has been 5-foot-11 freshman outside hitter Abby Marjama, who leads the team in aces and is second in kills.
Father bested son when Elk Grove Unified School District programs met. No. 6 Pleasant Grove scored four second-half goals to beat No. 7 Cosumnes Oaks 5-1 on Sept. 2, and for one night Rich Moorhouse upped his son. Moorhouse is the Eagles’ former head coach now working as an assistant. His sophomore son R.J. plays for Cosumnes Oaks.
Said R.J., “It was weird.”
Said father with a laugh, “I want to win, but I want R.J. to play well, too.”
Pleasant Grove halted the Wolfpack’s 25-game unbeaten streak. Cosumnes Oaks went 18-0-4 last season in winning the Division II section title.
Fast start – No. 2 Granite Bay beat No. 5 Davis 2-1 on Friday as Jad Shami and Hunter Loomis scored goals. Midfielder Zack Hubiak was named player of the game by coach Steve Fischer. The defending D-I section champions also have wins over El Camino (7-1) and No. 16 Monterey Trail (2-1) and host Grant today before starting Sierra Foothill League play Friday against rival Rocklin.
Hot scorers – Entering the week, seniors Kristian Heptner of Christian Brothers and Brendan Allen of Woodcreek led the area with eight goals each. Heptner led the region in scoring last season for the Falcons, who capped the season with a section championship.
Fast riser – No. 9 Franklin, No. 10 Rio Americano, No. 17 Oakmont and No. 18 Bella Vista are ranked after starting the season outside the Top 20. Each earned wins against ranked foes last week.