What a ride the 2019 high school season produced!
Determining a national champion went down to the final weekend. If that doesn’t say it all, nothing will. We wrote about why we felt Torrey Pines deserved the top honor after capturing the California Open Division state championship this past Saturday. Benet Academy had a strong case and finishes No. 2 behind the Falcons. After that, it was a bit of a crap shoot as mixed results across the board made it difficult to determine the final order.
One standard that is almost always maintained, unless there is great exception, is postseason results carry the most weight.
For instance, St. Francis De Sales upset Padua Franciscan in the Ohio Division 1 state final. Padua Franciscan has the more impressive lineup of victories but it’s almost impossible to place the Bruins ahead of St. Francis De Sales. As for the latter, the school presented a challenge as where to place it. Another example that comes about is with a school like Mater Dei. The Monarchs went 1-2 against two opponents but beat both in bigger postseason outcomes and thus the Monarchs are ranked ahead of both.
The toughest factor to sort out is the dreaded triangle, where Team A beat Team B, which beat Team C, which beat Team A. There’s no pretty way to separate and in most all cases the postseason results are looked at first.
In the end, the rankings are subjective and meant for fun. It’s girls high school volleyball. We all know anyone can win any given match and that’s what we all love about the sport.
1. Torrey Pines (San Diego, California)
Last ranking: 1
Note: Torrey Pines did it. The Falcons claimed their first state championship by topping Marin Catholic in the California Open Division final Saturday night. You can read more about Torrey Pines finishing the season on top.
2. Benet Academy (Lisle, Illinois)
Last ranking: 4
Note: Benet nearly ran the table and wound up winning the Illinois Class 4A state title. The Redwings’ only loss came against Marist, a school Benet went 2-1 against. The second victory came in the state semifinals. Benet is going to miss seniors Hattie Monson (libero) and Sophie Gregus (outside) in 2020 but has junior setter Rachel Muisenga (Penn State) to build around.
3. Mercy (Farmington Hills, Michigan)
Last ranking: 6
Note: The Marlins finished out their season by winning Michigan’s Division 1 state championship. Senior outside Jess Mruzik (Michigan) powered down 38 kills in the 25-21, 25-12, 23-25, 26-24 victory over Lowell. Lowell was the only school to defeat Mercy. It came in September with Mruzik out of the lineup. She was winning gold and the MVP for the Youth National Team in Egypt. Mercy avenged that loss in October then took care of the Red Arrows once more Saturday. While Mruzik is gone next season, junior setter Julia Bishop returns for the Marlins.
4. St. Francis De Sales (Columbus, Ohio)
Oct. Rankings: N/R
Note: The Stallions rise near the top of the rankings after upsetting Padua Franciscan in the Ohio Division 1 state final. St. Francis De Sales went 2-1 against Bishop Hartley, with its only other loss coming to nationally-ranked Mount Notre Dame. Kill leaders and seniors Emma Brown and Maryanne Boyle graduate but the Stallions do return junior dig leader Bridget Javitch, plus juniors Saje Washington and Avery Boyd. That duo finished third and fourth in kills respectively.
5. Padua Franciscan (Parma, Ohio)
Last ranking: 3
Note: We’ve written about Padua’s course this season. The Bruins were within a victory of taking No. 1 but their only loss to St. Francis De Sales derailed that notion. Padua loses a pair of key contributors in senior setter Ella Mihacevich and senior outside Samantha Ott. Among those trying to keep the Bruins in the state hunt next year are junior outside Maria Futey and junior S/RS Amanda Leigh.
6. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California)
Last ranking: 12
Note: After defeating Assumption early on in September, the Monarchs waited until the postseason to collect their biggest victories of the season. Though Mater Dei was 0-2 against both Redondo Union and Marymount, Mater Dei ended its season by beating both. First, it was Marymount in the CIF Southern Section semifinals. Next, it was Redondo in the California Open Division state semifinals. Though Mater Dei went 1-2 against both, the timeliness of those victories has Mater Dei ranked ahead of both in the final rankings. Mater Dei loses a core from its starting lineup in seniors Mia Tuaniga (setter), Meg Brown (MB/RS) and Reagan Merk (OH). Among those back in a year are junior outside Zaria Henderson and sophomore libero Jordyn Schilling.
7. Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, California)
Oct Ranking: 2
Note: When Padua Franciscan lost, Redondo Union had a path to the national championship. The Sea Hawks defeated Mater Dei for the CIF-SS championship but couldn’t earn a rematch with Torrey Pines as Mater Dei upset Redondo Union in the state playoffs. Redondo graduates 12 seniors — including libero Nalani Iosia (Texas) — and is going to have to retool next season. One key piece coming back however is junior setter Kami Miner.
8. Byron Nelson (Trophy Club, Texas)
Oct Ranking: 5
Note: Charitie Luper (24 kills) and Paige Flickinger (20 kills) had huge outings as Byron Nelson defeated Plano West in five games 21-25, 25-12, 22-25, 25-15, 15-7 to capture the Texas Class 6A state championship Saturday. The only teams to defeat Byron Nelson were Redondo Union and Keller, a school the Bobcats also beat. Losing an all-around player like Flickinger is going to leave a dent in Byron Nelson next year but the Bobcats have the junior Luper returning on the outside as well as junior setter Peyton Chamberlain.
9. Marymount (Los Angeles, California)
Last ranking: 8
Note: Watch out for the Sailors in 2020. They return plenty, including the top three kill leaders in sophomores Elia Rubin and Kerry Keefe and junior Caroline Altergott. Sophomore setter Kelly Belardi is another back, leaving Marymount set up nicely. As for 2019, Marymount once again finished on top of the field at the Nike TOC in Phoenix and reached the semifinals of the Durango Fall Classic.
10. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, California)
Last ranking: 9
Note: The Dons were one of the So Cal schools in the mix for the national championship had they been able to run the table and win the Open Division state title. The Durango Fall Classic champions this season for the first time, the Dons defeated a tough Mercy of Kentucky squad in the final. Cathedral Catholic is going to look different next season, as it graduates seniors Maddie Endsley (Washington) and Lindsey Miller (Notre Dame). However, freshman outside Julia Blyashov is a piece the Dons should be able to build around for the next few years.
11. Marist (Chicago, Illinois)
Last ranking: 13
Note: Marist gave it a strong run this season. The Redhawks would have obviously finished higher had they defeated Benet in the state playoffs and gone on to claim the title. Still, Marist traveled the country and wound up with victories over state champions in Skutt Catholic (Nebraska), Cardinal Mooney (Florida) and Nation Ford (South Carolina), plus was the only team to pick up a victory on Benet. Marist loses lots of firepower from this year’s roster, including senior right side Camryn Hannah (Clemson).
12. Skutt Catholic (Omaha, Nebraska)
Last ranking: 14
Note: The Skyhawks claimed the program’s fifth consecutive Class B state championship. They’ll be the heavy favorites to extend the streak a year from now. Skutt Catholic returns the majority of its starting lineup, including junior outside Lindsay Krause (Nebraska) and junior setter Allie Gray (Arizona State).
13. Assumption (Louisville, Kentucky)
Last ranking: 15
Note: The season ended with Assumption bringing home its third straight Kentucky state championship. The Rockets are going to have some work next season to keep the streak alive. Assumption is also going to have some youth too, including freshman outside Sydney Helmers being a featured part of the offense.
14. New Castle (Indiana)
Last ranking: 14
Note: After winning the past two Class 3A state championships, New Castle moved up a class and captured the 4A crown. Chasing another next year is going to be difficult without senior setter Melani Shaffmaster, but the Trojans will lean on junior outside Mabrey Shaffmaster and junior libero Bailey Cox to lead the way.
15. Plano West (Plano, Texas)
Last ranking: 22
Note: The Wolves eliminated Ridge Point in the 6A state semifinals but Byron Nelson proved a little too tough to conquer as the Wolves finished runner up. Plano West says goodbye to one of the top recruits in the nation in right side Iman Ndiaye (UCLA). Also leaving is senior outside Jill Pressly and senior outside Noelle Piatas. In fact, those three combined for nearly 1,300 kills this season.
16. Green Hope (Cary, North Carolina)
Oct Ranking: 17
Note: Ending the season on top of 4A for the fourth year in a row, the Falcons are going to be challenged to keep that streak alive in 2020. Setter Sydney Dowler as well as two more seniors in Alexis Engelbrecht and Grace Patrick graduate. Dowler and Patrick led the team in kills, totaling more than 500.
17. Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Last ranking: 18
Note: The year ended with Mount Notre Dame falling to Padua Franciscan in the Division 1 state semifinals. However, Mount Notre Dame figures to remain in the hunt for the state trophy a year from now. That’s because there are key components coming back. Among them is sophomore kill leader outside Carly Hendrickson, junior setter Megan Wielonski and junior outside Ally Christman.
18. Mercy (Louisville, Kentucky)
Last ranking: 21
Note: Mercy finished 0-3 on the year against rival Assumption, including a loss in the Kentucky state final. The Jaguars lose kill leader Caitlin Carpenter from next season’s roster but do have a pair of will-be seniors to build around. They are juniors in libero Eleanor Beavin and setter Elena Scott. They’ll keep Mercy in the state conversation next year.
19. Arrowhead (Hartland, Wisconsin)
Last ranking: 33
Note: If the Division 1 state champions want to defend the title next season there is work to be done. The Warhawks send off senior outside Aubrey Hamilton and her 552 kills. The lineup also loses senior right side Elise Schneider, who was second in kills. Junior setter Jade Stefan is returning though.
20. Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas)
Last ranking: n/r
Note: The Panthers lost a heartbreaker to Plano West in the Class 6A state semifinals, dropping the fifth set 15-13. That’s how close Ridge Point was to playing for the championship. It’s made tougher by the fact the Panthers will see a good share of the offense leave in seniors Claire Jeter and Reagan Rutherford. They lit up opponents with more than 700 kills combined. Rutherford also dished out 846 assists. Another departure is libero Nia McCardell. One of the key pieces coming back is junior right side Tiana Davis. She finished third in kills with 230.
21. Flower Mound (Texas)
Last ranking: 11
Note: Flower Mound rose up and surprised a lot of people by winning the 6A state championship in 2018. The Jaguars weren’t able to repeat the feat this season but watch out for them in 2020. They aren’t going away. Junior outsides Kaylee Cox and Angelique Cyr are coming back. All they did is team up to deliver more than 1,000 kills. On top of that, junior Caroline Dykes and sophomore Megan Farris are back as the setting tandem. That makes Flower Mound the team to beat in Texas next fall.
22. McIntosh (Peachtree City, Georgia)
Last ranking: 46
Note: It was just the third outing of the season when McIntosh lost to Alpharetta but the Chiefs never faltered again. McIntosh capped its year by sweeping past Whitewater to bring home the program’s third consecutive 5A state championship. There might not be any stopping McIntosh in 2020. The schools brings back junior outside Erykah Lovett, junior middle Ngozi Iloh and sophomore middle Alexa Markley. They combined for over 600 of the team’s 1,153 kills. One replacement will come at setter, as senior Jessie Doyal graduates.
23. St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kansas)
Last ranking: n/r
Note: The Saints landed the program’s first state title since 2014 when it knocked off St. James Academy in the 5A final. Aquinas is going to miss senior outside Caroline Zabroske next fall but the roster is boosted by the return of senior libero/OH Caroline Bien and sophomore outside Ava Martin, as well as junior outside Tyler Cullor.
24. Wayzata (Plymouth, Minnesota)
Last ranking: n/r
Note: Wayzata handed Eagan its only loss in the AAA state championship match, giving the Trojans the top honors in Minnesota. Wayzata is going to be right back at it in 2020. The Trojans have junior outside Sophie Jesewitz coming back for her senior campaign, plus sophomore middle Emma Goerger.
25. Eagan (Eagan, Minnesota)
Last ranking: 7
Note: No doubt it was a gut punch for Eagan to suffer its only loss in the AAA state championship match, the third season in a row the Wildcats have ended runner up. Junior setter Kennedi Orr is among those back next year to give it another shot. She’s joined by junior middle Abby Moe, sophomore right side Sienna Ifill and sophomore middle Kendal Kemp.