Deer Valley, Campolindo seek NorCal title

Though it may leave some room for debate as to the best team in the state of California is, the issue of the best team in Northern California will be decided on Saturday at Dublin High School.

A pair of East Bay teams will be looking to claim the first ever NorCal title as Deer Valley High will be facing Archbishop Mitty-San Jose in the Division I final and Campolindo High will be facing Whitney-Rocklin.

The two teams have combined to go 83-3 this season, with the Wolverines going 42-1 and the Cougars at 41-2.

“At this point there are only four teams in Northern California still playing volleyball,” Deer Valley coach Lou Panzella said. “The four teams all have worked really hard to get here and earned the right to play in this match.”

Deer Valley has played two of the three teams, beating Whitney and Campolindo, and will now face the last of the four Northern California teams in top-seeded Mitty.

“If we pass and serve we will be competitive,” Panzella said. “Then hitters need to put balls away, try to reduce errors and make them earn their points.”

For the Cougars, they might want to get used to being here, and in 2014 when a state title is on the line, this team should be considered one of the favorites as it is a team littered with underclassmen.

However, the focus is on a Whitney team that is going to present a challenge to top-seeded Campolindo.

“Whitney is a very good team,” Campolindo coach Dave Chen said. “They have not received the recognition that they deserve and I think that’s what drives them to play hard. They believe that they are the best team and that’s why they’re peaking right now in the season.”

The Cougars themselves are peaking, and really have been all year, losing only to Deer Valley in a great five-set match in March, and losing a close match to Bellarmine. That same Bellarmine team lost to Mitty in the Central Coast section semifinals in five games.

Safely put, the Cougars nearly took an undefeated record into the NorCal finals as they look to cap off a great season.

“Going into the season we knew this was a unique group. They have more experience as youngsters than most players who are seniors,” Chen said. “They have faced and tackled the challenge all season long and have taken the us and the program reputation to new heights. Now we are finally at that point and it’s all up to the boys now, we’re really excited for them. This young group has lived up to the expectations and the pressure when most may have cracked.”

Matt Smith