Diane Heine insists she is bowing out as the volleyball coach at Christian Brothers High School, though she’s in no hurry to turn in her whistle and clipboard – not when there still are championships to pursue.
The Falcons, No. 1 in The Bee’s preseason rankings, will play current No. 1 El Camino on Friday in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship match at UC Davis. CBS, the defending champion and second seed behind El Camino, has won eight titles since 1999, six with Heine as the head coach. El Camino seeks its fourth section title since 2009.
All section finalists advance to the Northern California playoffs, though the winners generally host more games.
Heine, at CBS since 1991, told her team earlier this season this would be her final one.
“It’s a great team, a special group to go out with,” Heine said. “And I’m done. I made up my mind, and I’m not going to do the Brett Favre thing and come back.”
The Falcons are led by Nastassja Bowman, a star outside hitter and setter who has committed to SMU; outside hitters Ashlynn Fresques and Lauren Overstreet; and middle blocker Elizabeth Robinson.
“We get such great effort from them,” Heine said. “We talk about it in practice. There’s no more trying. Now we must do. Sometimes, saying, ‘We’re trying,’ is a bailout. It’s time to win now.”
El Camino, which has beaten CBS twice in Capital Athletic League matches (3-0 both times), is led by Portland-bound outside hitter Mikaela Nocetti, middle blocker Kate Nicknig (San Jose State), middle Elizabeth Dahlberg (Westmont), senior setter Devin Herenda and senior outside hitter Makenzie Reeder-Esparza.
“Great, great team,” Heine said of the Eagles. “I’m happy to play them. I wanted to go against the best. I have the highest respect for coach (Martin) Soyama and their players. ... This match is good for our region.”
Rocklin thunders on – Defending Division II champion Rocklin, attempting to win its third championship since 2010, will play Vintage.
In the semifinals, third seed Rocklin beat second seed Roseville 3-0, and fourth seed Vintage upset top seed Oakmont 3-2.
Rocklin is led by Cal-bound junior Maddy Haynes, a 6-foot-4 outside hitter, and 6-1 middle blocker Julianne Miller.
Eagles soar – Pleasant Grove, which won its first Delta League championship, will play for a section title for the first time. The Eagles, seeded second in Division I, will play top seed Pitman of Turlock, which eliminated fourth seed St. Francis in a semifinal.
Pleasant Grove features Oregon-bound 6-3 middle blocker Sumeet Gill, 6-2 sophomore outside hitter Alexis Light and 5-10 freshman setter Liliana Light.
Pitman (40-1), which has the best record in the section, beat El Camino 2-0. Pitman’s only loss was to Mitty of San Jose on Oct. 18 in the Stockton Classic. Oregon-bound middle Lindsey Vander Weide, 6-3, leads the team with 378 kills.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.
SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
All matches Friday at the Pavilion at UC Davis
▪ Division I: No. 1 Pitman vs. No. 2 Pleasant Grove, 8 p.m.
▪ Division II: No. 3 Rocklin vs. No. 4 Vintage, 6 p.m.
▪ Division III: No. 1 El Camino vs. No. 2 Christian Brothers, 6 p.m.
▪ Division IV: No. 1 Sonora vs. No. 2 Hilmar, 8 p.m.
▪ Division V: No. 1 Vacaville Christian vs. No. 3 Bradshaw Christian, 4 p.m.
▪ Division VI: No. 2 Stone Ridge Christian vs. No. 5 Turlock Christian, 4 p.m.