Both the Yosemite High and Minarets High volleyball teams finished regular season play boasting league titles, but only one is preparing for postseason play.
Yosemite finished the regular season 10-0 in league play and 34-8 overall, enough to take home its third consecutive North Sequoia League championship and earn the No. 1 seed in the Central Section Division III playoffs. The Badgers open against No. 16-seed Woodlake at home Thursday at 7 p.m.
Minarets won the West Sequoia League with an 11-1 record, its fourth consecutive league title.
But the Mustangs were 14-12 overall and were left out of the 16-team Division III playoff bracket, one year after reaching the section semifinals as a No. 3 seed. There were 28 teams in the section D-III pool, including eight Central Coast schools that are new to the section this year. Four of those schools made the playoffs.
Worse for Minarets, it went 0-4 against section D-III competition. And it didn’t get a power rankings boost from the WSL, whose other members are all D-IV or D-V.
All 11 Mustang victories in the WSL were sweeps. They avenged their only loss (18-25, 23-25, 25-17, 21-25 to Orosi) by beating the Cardinals 25-21, 25-16, 25-22 on Senior Night Oct. 16.
The Minarets offense was led by sophomore Claire Corippo, who finished the season with 185 kills.
YHS finishes strong
Yosemite locked up the NSL title in their penultimate league game on Oct. 16 when they beat second-place Chowchilla in straight sets (25-17, 25-21, 25-15).
Coach Michele Chenowith said her team remained focus for the regular-season finale against rival Sierra.
“Sometimes your players can kind of let down, knowing that you already have (the NSL title), but they really wanted that title of undefeated,” Chenowith said. “We worked really hard to accomplish that.”
The Badgers beat Sierra in four sets (25-17, 21-25, 25-15, 25-23).
Monday afternoon, Chenowith and her team were back on their home floor preparing for Thursday’s first playoff game. Chenowith said she does not want her team investing too much thought into seeds and rankings.
“To me, that doesn’t mean anything. It’s how you come out and play every night,” she said of being the No. 1 seed, adding that in playoffs “everyone is good, everybody made it here and everybody has a winning record.”
The coach could not deny the value of the No. 1 seed guaranteeing home court advantage up until the finals.
“It’s huge. There are a lot of gyms where the ceilings are low, or the dynamics and lighting is different,” she said. “We’re at a higher elevation, they have to travel, sitting on the bus for one to two hours – all that takes a toll on their players.”
The finals will be played at the College of the Sequoias.
Last year, Yosemite fell just short of a section title, losing to Mission Oak in the finals. Mission Oak is seeded eighth, so the Badgers could meet the Hawks in the quarterfinals if both teams advance.
Senior Jordyn Jackson is not shy about how much winning a section title would mean to her, especially after last season’s journey.
“We were so close last year, we got second. The whole experience was amazing, but I would love to get the win this year,” she said. “That would be incredible.”
Chenowith raved about how players like Jackson have helped this team mesh extremely well. “It’s been a pleasure. They’re a wonderful group of girls. They get along and treat each other well,” she said.