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SportStars’ pre-tournament look at the top four NCS Divisions. The North Coast Section Girls Volleyball Tournament begins Wednesday, Nov. 13. Here’s our pre-tournament breakdown...

SportStars’ pre-tournament look at the top four NCS Divisions.

The North Coast Section Girls Volleyball Tournament begins Wednesday, Nov. 13. Here’s our pre-tournament breakdown on each of the top four divisions.


  TOP CONTENDERS: San Ramon Valley (30-3), Monte Vista (28-6), Heritage (25-8), California (21-9), Berkeley (19-11)
  THE FAVORITE: When the season started, the San Ramon Valley Wolves were a team that was dealing with losing several key players to graduation, and were thought to be a middle-of-the-road East Bay Athletic League team. Fast forward into the playoffs, and the Wolves have used two super sophomore hitters, including Katherine Claybaugh, to go undefeated in league, win 30 matches and grab the top seed. 
  THE BRACKETBUSTER: Heritage has only lost to one East Bay team, and only two from the North Coast Section. The Patriots ran through the Bay Valley Athletic League and boast three great hitters in Colleen Hannigan, Teja Hanna and Brileigh Boyce as well as a great setter in Heather Reed.
  THE TOP STORYLINE: San Ramon Valley graduated four starters from a team that won 32 matches a year ago, and was not expected to do what they’ve done. Now they are a team with only two key seniors, and are looking to keep it rolling into the post-season.
  CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: San Ramon Valley d. Monte Vista 3-2


  TOP CONTENDERS: Redwood (37-4), Maria Carrillo (27-6), Carondelet (25-11), Las Lomas (21-13)
  THE FAVORITE: Redwood has twice beaten Div. I contender Monte Vista, has beaten No. 2 seeded Maria Carrillo twice, has beaten Div. III defending champ and state-runner up Campolindo as well as defending Div. V state champion Branson. To say that Redwood is the favorite is an understatement. The Giants enter the playoffs as a heavy favorite.
  THE BRACKETBUSTER: With the grueling grind of the East Bay Athletic League behind them, the Carondelet Cougars are as battle tested as can be. Wins over Campolindo, Monte Vista, California and Foothill means this team can compete with nearly anyone.
  THE TOP STORYLINE: The Knights of Las Lomas graduated six key players from last year’s team that won the NCS Div. II title, but find themselves right back in the mix again after earning the No. 4 seed, which they were last year.
  CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Redwood d. Maria Carrillo 3-1


  TOP CONTENDERS: Campolindo (22-9), Bishop O’Dowd (22-9), Sonoma Valley (28-6), Albany (21-3)
  THE FAVORITE: There can only be one favorite, despite the fact that two teams are extremely even. Campolindo and Bishop O’Dowd have identical records, finished about the same at the Stockton Tournament, and went five games in last year’s final. However, Campolindo prevailed, reached the state finals, and earned the top seed again this year. The Cougars have to be the slight favorite.
  THE BRACKETBUSTER: The Acalanes Dons have beaten fourth-seeded Albany, and also have wins against Div. I contender Berkeley and Div. II contender Las Lomas. This team has been inconsistent, but has the ability to hang with the big dogs.
  THE TOP STORYLINE: Either Campolindo or Bishop O’Dowd, and sometimes both, have been in the finals in eight of the last nine years. The two teams have combined to win seven titles in those nine seasons and are once again heavy favorites to do so. The impressive domination of these programs is the top storyline.
  CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Bishop O’Dowd d. Campolindo 3-2


  TOP CONTENDERS: Marin Catholic (21-9), Moreau Catholic (25-5), Healdsburg (25-7), St. Patrick-St. Vincent (22-12), Cardinal Newman (18-10)
  THE FAVORITE: By virtue of playing in the Marin County League, a league that features Branson and Redwood, the Wildcats earned the top seed thanks in large part to winning 11 times during league play. However, they lacked a real signature win, and will be eager to prove they deserved the top seed.
  THE BRACKETBUSTER: St. Patrick-St. Vincent beat six Div. I teams this season, including three Div. I playoff teams, as well as besting Moreau Catholic at the Healdsburg Tournament. The Bruins could prove to be a tough out in the semifinals for top-seeded Marin Catholic.
  THE TOP STORYLINE: Moreau Catholic had 16 wins against upper division teams, including 10 of them against Div. I opponents, and also has wins against Healdsburg and Cardinal Newman. The top storyline is that this did not earn Moreau the top seed. The Mariners are going to be hungry to prove they should have been.
  CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Marin Catholic d. Moreau Catholic 3-2

  — Matt Smith, Contributor

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