As highly regarded as the Bay Area can be — when it comes to the high school sports, it’s typically not one of the premier regions in the state. Southern California teams have historically dominated state championships, and Sacramento-area programs have shown prowess at the regional level.
However, the Bay Area is at the top on a statewide and even national level when it comes to volleyball.
Last year, all six Northern California champions came from the Bay Area, and four of those teams beat their SoCal counterparts to win state titles.
While some of the very best in the region hail from the Silicon Valley, San Francisco is full of talent, including a couple of fast-rising powerhouses.
St. Ignatius, led by junior Lizzie Fleming, is looking to build on last year’s 32-9 record. Anne Crouch graduated and is now playing at UCLA, but Fleming leads a mix of experienced returners and promising youngsters coming from a league champion JV team. Fleming, a junior, committed to Duke last season. With her college plans already figured out, the only question is how high she can go while at St. Ignatius.
She’s not the only one to commit to a D1 program on this year’s team. Rose Holscher is committed to UC Davis and Megan Lewis is headed to UC Santa Barbara, where she’ll have a rivalry with current teammate Delaney Peranich. Peranich is headed to Cal Poly.
Rival Sacred Heart Cathedral’s only loss so far is to SI. In their other six matches, the Fightin’ Irish have two wins over Burlingame, a win over defending state champion Menlo and a victory over Carlmont.
Lincoln is the defending AAA champions, having tied for the regular-season title and defeated Lowell in the championship. Lowell is off to a 1-3 start, including a loss to St. Ignatius in straight sets on Tuesday, but the Cardinals will enter league play battle-tested. They also lost to Notre Dame-Belmont in four sets in their season opener. The first two sets weren’t close, but the Cardinals found their legs and won the third set before dropping a closely contested fourth set to end the match.
Lincoln opened the season with a gauntlet, playing five best-of-three matches at the Milpitas Spikefest, winning two. Since then, the Mustangs have won three of four, with the only loss coming to Burlingame.
Lick-Wilmerding tied for the Bay Counties League West title with Marin Academy last year and beat Marin Academy to win the BCL playoffs. Lick is off to a 7-1 start in 2017, including a win over Marin Academy at the Albany Cougar Challenge, where the Tigers finished in second place. While tournament matches are just best-of-three and played in rapid succession, beating the team that tied for the league title last year is an encouraging way to start the year.
Lick’s archrival, University, is also off to a promising start at 7-4. The Red Devils dropped two of their first three games to Mercy and Lincoln, but have since only lost to Palo Alto and Menlo.
Mercy is in the West Bay League’s Foothill Division and got off to a 2-1 start before a grueling part of the schedule. The Skippers played at the Albany Cougar Challenge and will spend the weekend at the most creatively named tournament in the region, the Westmoor Spike of Thrones.
As competitive as the San Francisco volleyball scene has been, it’s only gotten better in recent years.
Prep Focus writer Ethan Kassel covers high school sports throughout the Bay Area. Contact him if you have a story tip, game to watch or player to track by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.