Madison Devine and her teammates on the Liberty-Madera Ranchos High School girls volleyball team don’t have to search very far for motivation.
They simply have to look at the walls inside their gym, where the Hawks’ highly successful girls soccer and softball programs display a combined 17 league and 10 Central Section championships.
Liberty’s volleyball team, however, has neither.
“Every practice we go in the gym and look up to all the league championships, and we don’t have one yet,” said Devine, a junior setter. “And it’s irritating, kind of. We really want to put one up there to make history.”
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This week, the Hawks, ranked 16th in the section by The Fresno Bee, enter what looks to be a challenging North Sequoia League schedule on quite a roll.
Liberty is 22-0 – one of only two undefeated teams in the section with No. 1 Clovis (25-0) – heading into its league opener at home Tuesday against Washington (16-3-1). The Hawks face No. 17 Yosemite (14-2) on the road Thursday. The NSL also features reigning league and section Division IV champion Sierra (13-2).
Every practice we go in the gym and look up to all the league championships, and we don’t have one yet. And it’s irritating, kind of. We really want to put one up there to make history.
Liberty-Madera Ranchos junior setter Madison Devine
Liberty has been building toward this season since 2014. That’s when coach Brandon St. Lucia brought up Devine and outside hitters Hannah Chase and Zoey Richey to the varsity as freshmen, joining a then group of strong sophomores that included libero Tayler Sefton and middle blocker Tiffany Herron.
“We knew as soon as they started coming up through the program that we’d have success,” St. Lucia said. “They showed at an early age they could compete with the best, and they did. And now that they are the older girls, they are dominating.”
This is the third straight 20-plus win season for Liberty since St. Lucia took over as coach in 2013. The Hawks reached the D-IV quarterfinals in each of his first two years and reached the semifinals last year.
The school’s season wins record of 28, set in 2015, is well within reach.
“It’s a really good start,” Chase said. “We’re definitely the strongest team Liberty has had before.”
The Hawks have won titles at the Caruthers Raisin Harvest and Madera South tournaments this season, and own a 25-20, 19-25, 16-14 win over Sierra, which has won or shared the NSL title four straight seasons.
“The confidence is building with all the teammates,” Sefton said. “(We’re) getting better and better each play, each game. I believe in us that we can do pretty good.”
Central Section volleyball rankings
- 1. Clovis (25-0)
- 2. Central (25-7)
- 3. Bakersfield Christian (20-1)
- 4. Garces (9-3)
- 5. Buchanan (16-3)
- 6. Liberty-Bakersfield (13-6)
- 7. Clovis West (18-5)
- 8. Clovis East (16-4)
- 9. Centennial (10-9)
- 10. Clovis North (13-8)
- 11. Stockdale (11-11)
- 12. Frontier (11-6)
- 13. Mission Oak (15-6)
- 14. Exeter (20-5)
- 15. Redwood (14-8)
- 16. Liberty-Madera Ranchos (22-0)
- 17. Yosemite (14-2)
- 18. Hanford West (17-6)
- 19. Sierra (13-2)
- 20. Golden West (11-5)
Division I: 1. Clovis; 2. Central; 3. Buchanan
Division II: 1. Garces; 2. Exeter; 3. Redwood
Division III: 1. Bakersfield Christian; 2. Mission Oak; 3. Yosemite
Division IV: 1. Liberty; 2. Sierra; 3. Minarets (11-5)
Division V: 1. Immanuel (14-9); 2. Frazier Mountain (19-2); 3. Kings Christian (10-3-1)