2017 Flo50 Girls' High School Volleyball Rankings

California State Finals Shuffle Final High School Flo50

California’s second-ever Open Division state championship in girls volleyball ended up going almost exactly like the first.

And because it did, there were actually quite a few moves to be made in the final 2017 Flo50 national rankings. 

In the previous rankings, defending Open Division champion Archbishop Mitty of San Jose was shown at No. 10, which made sense because the Monarchs had losses to previous No. 4 Torrey Pines of San Diego and previous No. 5 Mater Dei of Santa Ana.

But Mitty often plays its best matches of the season right at the very end. Last year, that was the case in a victory over Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita in the first CIF Open Division state final. That happened once again in last Saturday’s match at Santiago Canyon College when the Monarchs swept Mater Dei 25-19, 25-18, 27-25.

In other California high school sports, adding the Open Division has slowed a dominant program from winning consecutive state titles. But that hasn’t happened with head coach Bret Almazan-Cezar and his Monarchs. Archbishop Mitty has now won six straight state titles and 14 overall, including 11 with Almazan-Cezar at the helm.

With the win, Mitty jumped from No. 10 to No. 4 in this week’s final national rankings. Torrey Pines, which lost to Mater Dei one week earlier in the CIF Southern California Open Division title game, dropped from No. 4 to No. 11, while Mater Dei went from No. 5 to No. 9.

Nicole Liddle led Mitty with 16 kills against Mater Dei while Julia Devine added 10 kills and stellar play at the net. 

Mater Dei had a 22-15 lead in the third set and looked poised for a possible comeback, but the winning Monarchs went on a 7-0 run at that point, staved off two set points, and then scored three straight to win the match.

Despite the loss, Mater Dei will always know it played a huge part in this year’s race for the final No. 1 ranking. If the Monarchs had not handed Walton of Marietta, Georgia, its only loss of the season in the title game of the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona then it’s pretty obvious Walton would have been mythical Flo50 national champs. 

Instead, that honor is going to Marist of Chicago, which avenged its only loss to 2016 Flo50 national champion Mother McAuley with a win over the Mighty Macs in the state playoffs. The Redhawks also posted wins over several champions from other states.

Many Marist players, along with head coach Jordan Vidovic, are still collecting numerous honors for their national championship season. Memphis-bound Molly Murrihy was named this week as the Daily Southtown Player of the Year by the Chicago Tribune. Murrihy and standouts Grace Green and Savannah Thompson also played in a local all-star game.

It’s always a bit anti-climactic for the final rankings if a California team isn’t trying to finish off a No. 1 national season in that state’s championships, since the California season extends two weeks longer than any other state. The CIF state calendar is changing for the 2018-19 school year, however, and some are hoping the girls volleyball finals are actually moved up two weeks. Whether that would slow down Mitty is highly doubtful.

Congratulations to all of the teams who are appearing in this week’s final rankings and good luck to all graduating seniors.

By Mark Tennis

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