The Division III teams in the North Coast Section might not get the attention of the Divison I and II teams, but this year’s playoffs should be compelling with a deep pool of talented teams.
A pair of those teams are from Oakland and hail from the Bay Counties League East in the form of College Prep and Head-Royce High Schools.
The Cougars, at 21-4 and 5-0 in league, not only look like the favorite in the league, but have a compelling case for the top seed in the playoffs.
They have stepped up and played Division I and Division II teams in tournaments, taking a game off Amador Valley, hanging with Northgate and falling to Logan in a deciding third game, 16-14.
They have wins over bigger NCS schools (some five or six times bigger) such as American, Acalanes, Redwood and Kennedy-Fremont.
College Prep was the No. 2 seed in last year’s playoffs, reaching the finals and falling to the host and top seed, El Molino.
“We see El Molino as one of the top teams in our division,” College Prep coach Blair Sly said. “We would really like another shot at them. We are motivated to win out because we think we’d be deserving of a No. 1 seed and that would be huge.”
The one thing that defines this College Prep team, and that would give them a chance to win the NCS title this year, is their balance.
“We definitely have that balance and it’s really nice,” Sly said. “On any given day any of the six guys out on the floor can step up.”
A deep line of hitters and blockers, which include Cole Stites-Clayton, Nikhil Rajapuram, Collin Styles and Noah Hadfield-Menell, a solid libero in Patrick Glass and very good setting with Daniel Eager makes this a tough team to stop.
Eager can also be an effective hitter, and Stites-Clayton was the setter last year, and has no problem filling that role at points in the game.
“A lot of teams have just that one go-to-guy and luckily we have a lot of guys that can step up,” Stites-Clayton said. “We spread it around and because of that we like our chances this year. But we really enjoy playing and we don’t look past anybody. We’re going to work hard and take nothing for granted because there is still a long way to go.”
Head-Royce, the No. 3 seed in last year’s NCS playoffs, might not be seeded that high this year, but they are a team to watch out for. The Jayhawks (11-5, 5-1) have a few first year players, basketball players, who are just starting to learn the game.
Guys like Jeremiah Kreisberg, the league’s hoops MVP, who are just starting to get the hang of this game, could end up making a huge impact in a playoff run.
“We have a lot of new guys who are basketball players,” Head-Royce outside hitter Mike Eidlin said. “In a couple of more weeks, when they have all the fundamentals down, that could make us a dangerous team.”
Eidlin, possibly the top hitter in the league, as well as another hitter in Tyler Mitchell and a solid setter in Eric Tam are going to make the Jayhawks tough for any opponent.
A recent loss to Berean Christian might hurt as far as getting a top four seed, but they are still going to be a team to be reckoned with.
“I feel like our guys are starting to play their best volleyball,” Head-Royce coach Scott Tay said. “We are starting to get tested late in the season and I think we have a good chance to go deep in the playoffs if we stay healthy and play with confidence.”
3. Amador Valley
5. Mission San Jose
6. De La Salle
7. Deer Valley
10. College Prep
14. Dougherty Valley
15. Monte Vista
The BSAL is not completely accurate, and I won’t even try with the BCL East because I really have no clue about most of the schools. Most of the ACCAL teams’ overall records are not accurate. Same with a couple of teams in the BVAL, DFAL, DVAL and MVAL. I’m doing my humble best.
Alameda (16-8, 3-0)
De Anza (11-5, 2-1) 1 GB
El Cerrito (3-5, 2-1) 1 GB
Berkeley (7-9, 1-2) 2 GB
Richmond (2-6, 0-3) 3 GB
St. Patrick-St. Vincent (16-11, 5-0)
St. Joseph Notre Dame (3-11, 2-2) 2.5 GB
St. Mary’s (2-6, 1-1) 2.5 GB
Salesian (4-12, 1-2) 3 GB
Encinal (0-7, 0-3) 4 GB
Deer Valley (17-5, 9-0)
Antioch (13-10, 7-2) 2 GB
Heritage (8-10, 5-4) 4 GB
Freedom (4-6, 4-5) 4 GB
Pittsburg (2-7, 2-7) 7 GB
Liberty (0-15, 0-9) 9 GB
Campolindo (19-5, 4-0)
Dougherty Valley (15-8, 3-1) 1 GB
Acalanes (5-10, 1-2) 2.5 GB
Las Lomas (5-6, 1-2) 2.5 GB
Alhambra (1-9, 0-3) 3.5 GB
Northgate (25-2, 6-0)
Clayton Valley (10-5, 6-1) .5 GB
Berean Christian (11-8, 4-3) 2.5 GB
College Park (5-8, 4-3) 2.5 GB
Concord (3-11, 2-4) 4 GB
Ygnacio Valley (3-20, 1-6) 5.5 GB
Mt. Diablo (0-6, 0-6) 6 GB
Foothill (24-1, 8-0)
Amador Valley (20-3, 7-1) 1 GB
California (16-11, 5-3) 3 GB
De La Salle (21-8, 4-4) 4 GB
Granada (7-7, 4-4) 4 GB
Monte Vista (8-9, 3-5) 5 GB
San Ramon Valley (2-15, 1-7) 7 GB
Livermore (3-18, 0-8) 8 GB
Mission San Jose (19-4, 7-0)
Logan (19-10, 6-2) 1.5 GB
Washington (15-6, 6-2) 1.5 GB
Kennedy (6-13, 3-3) 3.5 GB
Moreau Catholic (5-12, 3-4) 4 GB
American (2-8, 1-5) 5.5 GB
Castro Valley (0-8, 0-8) 7.5 GB