Remember the 2005 Liberty team? Or last seasons’ Foothill team? Or the teams at St. Mary’s the last two seasons. How about those powerful Campolindo teams that looked machine-like in their near precision.

Well, some of this week’s results began to make one thing clear, something that seemed evident to me at the Deer Valley Invitational earlier this month.

This is a transition year for girls volleyball in the East Bay which means there isn’t a clear-cut dominant team in the area, which means any of the “top” teams can beat any other top team on any given night, which makes this a wide-open season, which makes polls like these very difficult to predict. Which…

Man, that’s a lot of “whichs” huh?

This is what makes this poll tough. Imagine a coach (or even a player or fan formulating at home) excited about his/her rationale behind the Top 10 he/she just chose, when everything that was thought to be up becomes down and vice versa. Now you know why I’m happy NOT to have a vote.

The two biggest shake ups this week were Las Lomas’ win over Campolindo and Amador Valley’s survival match against San Ramon Valley.

The battle of the week goes to SRV’s Lauren Claybaugh and AV’s Sophia Dunworth, who went back and forth like heavy weight champs. Claybaugh finished with 21 kills and Dunworth countered with 20 kills.

The key performer was Charlotte Brown who had 17 kills to lead Las Lomas.

I admit, if anything, the unknown makes things entertaining.

— Ricardo Sanchez Jr.

1) Amador Valley (survives a five-game thriller against SRV)
2) Deer Valley (First place in the Santa Cruz Invitational)
3) Castro Valley (showdown with Bishop O’Dowd coming soon)
4) Bishop O’Dowd (meeting with Trojans will tell us more)
5) Foothill (cruises to win over Cal)
6) Monte Vista (key win over Granada)
7) Campolindo (suffer second loss ever in DFAL)
8) Granada (losses close one to MV)
9) San Ramon Valley (gave Amador Valley all it could handle)
10) Las Lomas (hands Campo its second loss ever in DFAL play)

Also receiving votes: Albany, Carondelet, Salesian, California


Las Lomas beats Campo

Las Lomas is a young team finding its way. Campolindo is even younger.

Both teams showed their youth on Tuesday night, but the experience of juniors TK Gordon and Charlotte Brown powered the Knights through for the win.

Brown, Gordon and Keely Kuhn have been on the Las Lomas varsity girls volleyball team since freshman year.

“We were excited (about the match),” Brown said. “Everyone wanted it so badly and we were really focused. In practice all through the week it’s been on our minds.”

The Knights beat Campolindo 27-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-23 loss in its home gym, handing the Cougars only its second loss in DFAL play since the league was formed in 2000.

“We’re a young team but we’re a good team,” Las Lomas assistant coach Tim Conroy said. “We’re a very streaky team and it was a good streak tonight.”

The Knights had been waiting for this night and chance to prove it had arrived. Throughout the campus the team had posted 8 x 11 signs on lockers colored with crayons and markers reading, “BEAT CAMPO”

Brown led the offense with 17 kills hitting mostly from the outside and Gordon held down the defense with stellar play at the libero position.

In the end, the Knights delivered a rare win against a perrenial power that may be in transition but still a formidable opponent.

Everyone knows this is not the same team that won the Division III state championship last season, but the Campolindo “Cubs”, a youth movement led by setter Mary Vaccaro (a freshman who hustles on the court like nobody’s business), makes this team solid, so the win is major for Las Lomas because the Knights are young too.

Mostly juniors and sophomores make up the Knights, some players that were on junior varsity last season, including setter Molly Peterson, who turned in a glowing performance on Tuesday.

“Pretty much all of them are new to varsity, so they’re coming in very enthusiastic,” Brown said.

Now the Knights’ can be happy to be on top of the DFAL.

— Ricardo Sanchez Jr.


DV volleyball gets historic win

Talk about a little known and interesting fact: Deer Valley won its first ever tournament in girls volleyball over the weekend.
Yes, I was surprised myself.
Wolverines coach Lou Panzella said the tourney win at the Santa Cruz Invitational was the first in school history.
Deer Valley went 5-1 on the day.
In pool play the Wolverines defeated Burligame 25-13, 25-16 and Pacific Grove 25-11, 25-21 before losing to Palo Alto 17-25, 28-26, 12-15.
Once in the playoffs, the Wolverines beat Aptos (32-30, 25-18) and settled the score with Palo Alto (13-25, 25-15, 15-6).
In the finals, Deer Valley dropped Sonama Valley 25-16, 25-21.
Setter Iris Tolenada was named the Tournament MVP and Monica Mosley and Lindsey Siegal were named to the all-tournament team.


Murrey No. 2 in the country

photo by Keith Cooke

St. Mary’s High School girls volleyball player Tarah Murrey is the No. 2 recruit in the country (Yes, that’s the U.S. of A we’re talking about) according to PrepVolleyball.com, the premiere Web site dedicated to girls high school volleyball.

John Tawa, creator of the site, released the top 10 recruits in the 2008 Senior Aces feature, which had been counting down the top 100 recruits in the country this month.

Tawa wrote that Murrey has a powerful game and has a “full arsenal of weapons honed from playing above her age group for years.” Murrey’s skills in the back row are also on point where she is a “tenacious defender and passer.” Don’t get her at the net either where she can be a “devastating hitter and blocker.”

Tawa went on to say that Murrey is “hard working, never complains, listens to her coaches and teammates, and leads by example.”

Sounds like a pretty accurate assesment of Murrey, who has yet to decide where she will play in college.
The No. 1 recruit is Kelly Murphy, a 6-foot-1 setter, right side hitter from Joliet Catholic (Joliet IL).

— Ricardo Sanchez Jr.



There wasn’t much movement with last week’s Top 10, but two schools did manage to get into the mix.

Monte Vista and Bishop O’Dowd found their way into the poll. The Mustangs won the Newark Memorial Tournament and went 5-0, beating Granada in finals in three games. O’Dowd then scored a win against Monte Vista.

Other than those two teams, everything pretty much stayed the same, which is interesting considering some of recent outcomes of matches. Most glaring is Castro Valley’s win over Foothill that knocked the Falcons down a notch but kept the Trojans at No. 6.

Another team perhaps worth a look is small school Salesian, who is currently 12-1 and has a big upset win over St. Mary’s.

Are there any other teams out there not getting any love? Let us know by posting below.

BTW: If you are a girls volleyball coach in the East Bay and have not cast a vote but would like to, please contact myself (rsanchez2@bayareanewsgroup.com) or Deer Valley’s Lou Panzella so that you can be put on the E-mail list to cast your vote.

–Ricardo Sanchez Jr.


1) Amador Valley (Dons remain the unanimous No. 1)
2) Deer Valley (rolling along in BVAL play)
3) Campolindo (can Las Lomas give Campo a run in DFAL?)
4) Foothill (suffers loss to Castro Valley)
5) Bishop O’Dowd (win over Monte Vista gets them in)
6) Castro Valley (gets big win over Foothill)
7) Granada (lost to Mustangs in final of Newark Tourney)
8) San Ramon (kicks off league play against No. 1 Dons on Tuesday)
9) Monte Vista (won Newark Tourney by beating Granada)
10) Albany (headed for a showdown with St. Mary’s?)

Other teams receiving votes — Carondelet, Las Lomas


Two Geeks and Pigskin: Get on board!

Hopefully a few of you are familiar with the online video segments that Ben Enos and myself are doing for our prep football coverage on the Web. It’s called Two Geeks and a Pigskin and we’re doing our best to bring you prep football insight while having as much fun as possible.

We know that some of you are watching it, and we’re eager to find out if you’re enjoying it. And if you haven’t seen an episode yet, well, we’d like to fix that.

Here are the first four installments.
Week Zero: Our introductory piece, shot in the CCT photo studio, Ben is ridiculed for being a member of his high school debate team.
Week One: Ben has fun mocking me during a KICU Sports Focus taping, also Ben gets revenge by dragging out an incriminating photo from my high school days.
Week Two: Shot at the Bryson residence, we debut the Gummi Gridiron and one of my cats makes a cameo appearance.
Week Three: Our most recent edition, released today (9/20). We shoot at Selix Tuxedo rental where I prepare for my wedding on Saturday.

New segments should be released each Thursday, building to Friday night football. We’re eager to hear your encouragement, suggestions or general gripes. We’ve actually started our own Geek email address. You can send us your thoughts by at: cctgeeks@comcast.net

No suggestion is too off-the-wall. We look forward to hearing from you.
-Chace Bryson


Girls V-ball: Salesian knocks off St. Mary’s

Salesian’s girls volleyball coach Katie Fay knows her team tends to get off to slow starts so when it happened against St. Mary’s on Monday she may have taken it in stride.
Down 20-10 in the first game, Salesian made it respectable and lost it 25-19.
The match was a different story.
The Pride pulled out a 19-25, 25-16, 25-23, 24-26, 15-11 upset win over the visiting Panthers, who entered as the defending Bay Shore Athletic League champions three years running and with superstar outside hitter Tarah Murrey.
“We just didn’t play our game,” said first year St. Mary’s coach Cassie Aschinger.
Fay, on the other hand, knew she had no reason to worry.
“We really battled back and that gave us a lot of confidence,” Fay said. “(St. Mary’s) looked like they were getting more frustrated with us.”

…. On a quick side note: How big a deal was this for Salesian? Well, Mondays are usually slow days for our prep staff, so we tend to be out of the office by 7:30-8 p.m. But that didn’t stop Salesian basketball coach Bill Mellis from calling Times reporter Robert Jordan on his cell phone to make sure the result got in the paper. It did, so credit the assist to Mellis and the slam dunk to Jordan. Ok, back to the story ….

The Panthers were playing without Genny Pezzola – a starting outside hitter and setter this season – because of an ankle injury and it apparently threw them off mentally to be missing one of their seniors and leaders. But the Panthers still had Murrey, the best player in the area, so no excuses.
“You can’t neutralize (Murrey),” Fay said. “We tried to be aggressive and keep the ball out of her hands as much as possible. Our defense really played well. We didn’t let her get to us. We said ‘Ok we’ll let you get your kills but we’ll wear you down in other areas’ because she can’t do it all.”
Fay said two of her starters – a middle blocker and a setter were out with injuries – but that wasn’t a problem as back up setter Rachel Mandariao came in and handled the job just fine to finish with 33 assists.
“We have been playing so well this year,” said Fay, whose team’s average height is about 5-foot-7. “This year’s group of players aren’t great in one area but they are well-balanced in all areas.”
Devan Wong chipped in with 20 digs, Malina Terrell had 15 kills, seven blocks and two aces and Taylor Melton contributed with five digs, three kills, two blocks for the Pride. With the win, Salesian is now 11-1 overall and 2-0 in the BSAL.

— Ricardo Sanchez Jr.


Utah Louks to the future

So last Saturday, I tried to get cute and made a Corbin Louks who? reference in the Further Review section after San Ramon Valley quarterback Joe Southwick went 18 of 21 for 279 yards and four touchdowns in his varsity debut. The reference wasn’t meant to be a slight at Louks, who threw for over 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior last season, but it came off that way.
Well Southwick isn’t the only Danville quarterback having success this season.
UCLA had no idea who Louks was but the Bruins left Saturday’s game against Utah knowing who Louks is now.
A true freshman, Louks made his collegiate debut and went 2 of 3 for 18 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter as the Utes upset the then No. 11 UCLA 44-6 in Salt Lake City. Louks also ran the ball four times for 10 yards.
Louks should see even more time in the future with Utes senior starter Tommy Grady battling injuries and consistency issues.
According to newspaper reports, Utah was orginally thinking about redshirting Louks but decided against it. Here is what Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham told the Salt Lake Tribune about Louks following the win.
“He is an athletic type of quarterback who matches what Brian Johnson brings to the offense, so we wanted to start bringing him along and running him like crazy,” Whittingham said. “We have to have a guy who is in the same mold as a throwing threat, and Corbin Louks has a great deal of poise and savvy that are intangibles you can’t measure statistically.”
Here is the link for the entire story: http://www.sltrib.com/collegesports/ci_6915908


EBAL heavyweights get back on track

Regardless of whom they played, there was something a little surreal about seeing both Monte Vista and Foothill at 0-1 after one week of high school football. This weekend’s results were a little more in line with what we’re used to.

Monte Vista raised all sorts of questions with its 37-21 loss to James Logan in Week 1, allowing three 100-yard rushers and just generally not playing up to expectations.

On Thursday, though, the Mustangs looked like the Mustangs again in dispatching Merrill West-Tracy. Does this mean Monte Vista is off the hook for not showing up the week before? Not a chance. West is in a major rebuilding year after graduating a pair of outstanding senior classes — but the Mustangs did exactly what they should do to an inferior opponent, and they looked good doing it.

Foothill, meanwhile, had its own questions to answer after its opening day loss to Novato — questions like “Who’s the quarterback?” That one was answered, sort of, on Friday. Senior Bryan Kruger returned from injury and started over sophomore (and coach John Mannion’s son) Sean Mannion in Foothill’s win over Berkeley. Mannion had started the opener and performed fairly well, while Kruger wasn’t asked to do much in Friday’s game.

Junior Cameron Coon was expected to be the starter, but he’s out with a back injury and doesn’t look like he’ll be back anytime soon. That leaves John Mannion with a decision — go with the undersized senior or the promising sophomore who happens to be his son. That could wind up being the first big decision of the first-year coach’s career, and it could play a big role in determining what Foothill can accomplish this season.

No one will play a bigger role, though, than Rob Andrews. The senior fullback/linebacker was the difference against the Yellow Jackets, who did a decent job of containing the Falcons early. As long as Andrews stays healthy and keeps falling forward for 4 yards on every run (and Austin Day keeps stretching defenses laterally), Foothill will remain a team to be reckoned with — regardless of who’s under center.

And speaking of Berkeley, it’s hard not to think that Alonzo Carter will turn the Yellow Jackets into winners eventually. His passion and presence on the sideline demands respect, and once he’s got a full roster of players buying in, he’ll be ready to take his team to great heights just like he did at McClymonds. Just don’t expect it to happen this year — as Carter said Friday, “We’re trying to undo some bad habits. It’s going to take a while.” Berkeley has speed and a fair amount of talent, but not enough to compete with the Foothills of the world.

— James Leonard


Pick’em returns!

Our fabulous online people have fixed the Prep Pick’em page, so feel free to disregard the previous post and just head on over to make your picks. Chris from Antioch is in the lead with 13 after one week and he has some notable names chasing him at 12. Click the link at the top of this page to enter.
— Ben Enos