High school girls’ volleyball is in full swing in San Joaquin County, and there has been thick competition in the CIF Sac Joaquin Section. From the San Joaquin Athletic Association to the Mother Lode League, there are plenty of teams vying for the title of best volleyball program in the area.
Here is a list of the top 10 teams in the county early in the 2022 season.
(Listed in alphabetical order)
There might be a new top dog in the Mother Lode League as Calaveras is aiming for the top with two games remaining before league play. Emerging sophomore middle blocker Chole Martz is doing it all in helping the Redhawks have a dominating start to the season. Martz averages 2.5 kills per set and leads her team with total blocks.
The Redhawks’ only loss came on Aug. 20 to University Prep of Redding, who last season won 42 games and went undefeated in the CIF Northern Section Northern League. The Redhawks have two more matchups against Cosumnes Oaks and Lodi before it showcases their growth to league foes.
Chavez sits atop the SJAA a game ahead of Linden with a 4-0 record. The Titans’ pre-season matchups in Ben Holt College Prep Academy, Tokay, Millennium and Mt. Edgecumbe of Arkansas have given them the needed tests for league play. Through the pre-season, they have only lost two sets.
Senior outside hitter Kafoatu Langi is a big reason behind that for Chavez as she leads her team in kills and serving aces. Langi is a driving force on offense, especially during close matches such as the 3-1 win against Tokay on Aug. 23. Tokay tried to take the momentum, winning the second set 26-25. The Titans finished the match with 42 kills the most so far this season. 16 of those kills came from Langi.
Bret Harte (6-2)
Bret Harte has the most pre-season wins in its league this season with a record of 6-2. The Bullfrogs are also on a two-game winning streak after beating Linden 3-1 and sweeping Hughson at home on Aug. 25. Some other key wins came against Modesto’s Beyer and Riverbank.
This season looks to be a continuation of last season when Bret Harte finished second in the Mother Lode League. The season ended with a loss to Vacaville Christian in the semi-finals of the CIF Sac- Joaquin Section Division 5 playoffs. Making another playoff run for the Bullfrogs head coach Jacey Porovich is very likely given their hot start this season.
East Union (4-2)
The Lancers have already surpassed their last season finish (3-16, 2-10 Valley Oak League). Currently, East Union is ranked third in the VOL and has four wins under its belt showcasing that head coaches Chelsea Herrera and Michelle Sims are turning the program around.
With eight seniors on the team this year and some talented underclassmen the 2022-23 season is looking bright. Sophomores Katelyn Trevino and Meritiana Luani are standouts so far as the two kills leaders for East Union. Defensively, junior middle blocker Mariela Navarro leads. The Lancers have already beaten Stone Ridge Christian, Pacheco, and Galt.
After eight games of non-league play, the Cougars continue to reign as one of the top volleyball programs in the county. They hold an 8-0 record with wins against Central Catholic, Tracy, and Torres. At the rate they’re going, they are looking to match last year’s 30-game winning record.
After graduating standout seniors Amanda Murphy and Bella Cormack, Escalon would need to find playmakers to step up this season. Senior outside hitters Emily Vickers and Gianna Bava answered the call. Vickers averages 4.3 kills per set and is five kills shy of 100 already. Bava, who has 44 kills so far, has the team’s highest hitting percentage, 43.9%.
After finishing last season second in the Sierra Delta League, Linden was moved to the SJAA for the 2022 season. With more unfamiliar competition to come once league play begins, head coach Gianna Goins has had her team play in the most games so far in the league.
Notable wins for the Lions are their season-opener, a 3-0 win against Summerville, a 3-0 win against Lincoln on Sept. 25 and a 2-1 win against Bradshaw Christian on Aug. 28. Coins and her squad are slowly but surely proving themselves fit for their new league. The Lions open league play on Aug. 30 against McNair (1-4).
Manteca is currently third in the VOL with a 5-2 record. The Buffaloes’ most recent win was a 3-0 sweep over Lathrop on Aug. 29. Some of their other notable wins are a 3-0 sweep against Weston Ranch, a 2-1 win over Lincoln and a 2-1 win over Modesto’s Enoch.
Last season, head coach Robin Chandler and her team finished 26-8 overall and only lost one league game against Central Catholic. In the playoffs, they made a run in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Girls Volleyball Playoffs Division 3, beating Los Banos and Hilmar to make it to the semi-finals. The Buffaloes will look to make it back to the playoffs this year and push past the semifinals. They have five more non-league matchups before league play begins on Sept. 15.
Ripon Christian (2-1)
The Knights are using this season to further prove that this is a volleyball school, opening up the 2022 season 2-1 so far. Ripon Christian is led by junior Jordan Vander Veen who as a sophomore was a dynamic attacker. After three matches, Veen is averaging 4.4 kills per set and has 40 kills total.
A key to Veen’s success on offense is junior setter Megan Weststeyn, who is on her way to having 100 assists just a couple of games into the season. The partnership between Veen and Weststeyn has helped Ripon Christian sweep both Downey of Modesto and Central Valley Christian. The next test for the Knights will be a matchup on Aug. 30 against Escalon who is currently undefeated.
The Timberwolves have had a stellar start to the 2022-23 season as they are the only team in the VOL to remain undefeated through non-league play. This kind of start is a breath of fresh air given last season’s 8-8 overall finish. Sierra now looks to surpass last season as it sits in first place in its league with an 8-0 record.
Sierra opened the season with an away matchup with Lathrop handling the Spartans with ease and sweeping them on Aug. 22. Head coach Kim Brooks and her team would go on to only lose two sets in the next seven games. Some of their notable wins are Linden, Downey of Modesto and Lodi.
St. Mary’s (2-0)
St. Mary’s senior outside hitter Audrey Arnaudo has led her team to a 2-0 start for the 2022-23 season. This comes as no surprise as she was the player looking to fill in after the graduation of outside hitter Cambria Waites. Arnaudo is already leading her team with kills per set, 5.2 kills.
With offensive power from Arnaudo and junior opposite side hitter Keely Hummel, the Rams have yet to drop a set, sweeping both Ripon Christian and Turlock. Although they haven’t played a ton of games yet, they are the reigning champs in the Tri-City Athletic League and will be looking for a repeat.
Record reporter Shannon Belt covers sports. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ShannonBelt3. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at https://www.recordnet.com/subscribenow.