High School Sports

Prep volleyball rankings: Sierra soaring behind experience, depth

Third-year varsity players Kinlee Rix, Saraya Sears, Morgan Vandenack, Alex Smith and Jordan Falk provide the backbone and court chemistry for the Central Section’s only undefeated volleyball team.

Senior Claire Zelasko, juniors Courtney Parks, Abbey Briggs and Hayly Day, sophomores Taylor Saar and Maesyn Rix and freshman Tori Carlos, provide coach Amanda Lopez an interchangeable 12-deep roster that has produced a 20-0 record and top billing for Sierra High among Division IV teams in The Bee’s Central Section rankings.

“Year after year, these girls have put in a lot of hard work individually and as a team,” said Lopez, in her fourth year as Chieftains coach. “This year they are coming together and playing as a team and not as individuals. It’s all 12 girls. They are all equally talented and it’s nice as a coach to be able to throw any six girls on the court and for them to play as a machine.”

Sierra opened North Sequoia League play Oct. 6 with a 23-25, 25-18, 15-25, 25-13, 17-15 win over Chowchilla, which entered with four wins. Lopez called the victory a wake-up call.

“I told the girls teams will want to play that much harder against us because they want to be that blemish on your record,” said Lopez, who has guided the Chieftains to the past three NSL titles.

Sierra responded with a 25-12, 25-16, 25-17 sweep of Kerman, which entered the Oct. 8 match 15-4-2.

“That first league game was an eye-opener,” Lopez said. “They came back at practice the next day and hit it ever harder.”

The Chieftains host Liberty on Tuesday and play at Washington on Thursday as NSL play continues. They will also play at the Kennedy Thrillerfest Tournament in San Jose on Oct. 23-24 to tune up for the postseason, which begins Nov. 10 and aims toward all five divisional finals being held Nov. 21 at West Hills College-Lemoore.

Sierra was knocked out in the D-IV quarterfinals last season and reached the semifinals in each of the two seasons before that.

“I see a lot of big things for these girls,” Lopez said. “They have worked hard to get to this point. This is not my most talented team technique-wise, and I’ve had other girls who could jump through the roof or were taller. But the cohesion they have and the way they work together fills in all the gaps.”

Nick Giannandrea: 559-441-6103, @NickG_FB

Central Section volleyball rankings

OVERALL

(Records through Oct. 10)

  • 1. Centennial 19-4
  • 2. Independence 12-4
  • 3. Clovis East 22-6
  • 4. Clovis 19-10
  • 5. Central 26-5
  • 6. Liberty-Bakersfield 23-6
  • 7. Clovis West 21-12
  • 8. Garces 15-6
  • 9. Frontier 22-9
  • 10. Central Valley Christian 17-9
  • 11. Clovis North 17-13
  • 12. Bakersfield 6-10
  • 13. Exeter 25-5
  • 14. Buchanan 14-14
  • 15. Stockdale 12-15

DIVISIONAL

  • D-I: 1. Centennial; 2. Clovis East; 3. Clovis
  • D-II: 1. Independence; 2. Garces; 3. CVC
  • D-III: 1. Bakersfield Christian 16-7; 2. Yosemite 23-8; 3. Mission Oak 17-6
  • D-IV: 1. Sierra 20-0; 2. Minarets 18-5; 3. Liberty-Madera Ranchos 20-6
  • D-V: 1. Frazier Mountain 15-7-1; 2. Immanuel 6-10; 3. California City 14-7-2
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