The CIF Southern Section girls’ volleyball playoff brackets were released on Saturday morning, with six Long Beach teams learning their playoff fate. The first round of the playoffs will be Thursday at 6 p.m., with the second round slated for Saturday at the same time, except for the top division.
Long Beach Poly will be hosting Mira Costa in a matchup of the No. 9 Jackrabbits with No. 8 Costa; Lakewood will travel to No. 3 Marymount.
There’s a lot riding on the Division 1 matches because the winners will qualify for the state tournaments, while the losers’ seasons will be over, a surprisingly harsh bracket format considering that the Division 1 and 2 pool was split at the end of the season, making Division 1 close to a de facto Open Division bracket. In basketball, Open Division teams all qualify for the state playoffs since they’re the best that Southern California has to offer–the same is true for girls’ volleyball’s Division 1 bracket.
Because of the way the Division 1-2 pool was split, the No. 16 team will have to go play at national powerhouse Mater Dei with a likely sweep and the end of the season looming. The No. 17 team will be the top-seed for the Division 2 bracket.
This is the first year the Division 1-2 format has been used.
“I know it’s a lot of hard work especially with this new division and it’s never going to be perfect,” said Lakewood coach Mike Wadley, who is on the CIF-SS volleyball advisory committee. “There was a lot of time and effort put into this bracket and I know it was not an easy decision. Somebody has to (be in this position) and this year it is us.”
The Lancers (24-11) will have their hands full on the road against Marymount (30-7), the team that knocked Poly out last year.
Poly (29-7) will have a more winnable game that they’re slight underdogs for with Mira Costa (23-9). If Poly wins they’d have a second round match that would almost certainly be against top-seeded Mater Dei, barring a colossal upset. If Lakewood wins the Lancers would face the winner of Foothill and Santa Margarita. The Division 1 second round takes place next Wednesday.
Wilson and Millikan are both hitting the road in the first round with the Bruins (18-16) traveling to Cypress (19-4) and the Rams (18-13) going to Culver City (26-2).
Wilson had a three-set loss earlier this season to Cypress.
“After our loss to them I realized we needed to improve on blocking certain combinations,” said WIlson coach Carlos Briceno. “We have a jump start on our preparation for them–I didn’t anticipate we would meet so soon. They have strong and athletic hitters, we’ll need to pass well.”
Millikan’s Jan Green said her team is ready to hit the road and try to come up with an upset.
“We’re excited for the opportunity,” she said. “We’re looking forward to competing and giving it all we’ve got.”
St. Anthony (19-10) will visit Del Rio league champion La Serna (16-7) on Thursday; the Saints earned an at-large berth into the playoffs.
“The bid was a top-off to the challenging season, our team earned it,” said St. Anthony coach Alicia Lemau’u. “La Serna has always been strong, it will be a good battle between two good teams.”
The Avalon Lancers (12-14) earned their way into the playoffs in the last week of the season and will travel to play Liberty Christian (9-4) in the first round.
We will have previews of every match on Thursday as well as live updates from the first round of the playoffs.
Thursday, Round 1 Matches
LB Poly vs. Mira Costa
Lakewood @ Marymount
Millikan @ Culver City
Wilson @ Cypress
St. Anthony @ La Serna
Avalon @ Liberty Christian