No. 1 Mitty prepares for postseason

Each week, the ESPN RISE FAB 50 Volleyball rankings will be released, tracking the top teams in the country.

This week, the ESPN RISE FAB 50 rankings focus on the playoff races around the nation. Some, like Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, capped their seasons and moved on to the winter season. Others, like California, Illinois, Nebraska and Texas, still race forward to the finish.

The race in California has just begun even though many other states have moved on to their winter seasons. CIF Southern Section released its brackets in ten divisions on Sunday and ESPN RISE FAB 50 No. 7 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) received the top seed in Div. I-A. No. 11 Wilson (Long Beach), No. 15 Santa Margarita, and No. 22 Los Alamitos followed behind in the No. 2, 3 and 4 spots. The top four seeds of Div. I-A all went undefeated in their leagues with the exception of Santa Margarita, which split with No. 29 Orange Lutheran.

No. 19 Dos Pueblos (Goleta) swept the Channel League over rival Santa Barbara and received the top seed in Div. I-AA. No. 39 Marymount (Los Angeles) and previously ranked No. 46 Santa Barbara will battle it out in the bottom half of the bracket. No. 26 Redlands East Valley (Redlands) received the first seed in Div. II-AA

There were no surprises in the CIF Sections of San Diego or Central Coast. No. 2 La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) received the top seed in Div. I with Avocado League rival No. 43 Torrey Pines in the second slot. The Central Coast Section seeded Archbishop Mitty first in Div. II, and the mighty Monarchs will not have much to overcome until state playoffs.

No. 20 Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village, Colo.) picked up its fifth state championship in school history and its first in ten years. Coach Sally Moos' squad proved their dominance after defeating Grandview (Aurora) for the third time this year, 28-26, 25-11, 25-11, to win the Colorado 5A State final. The elated coach attributed the team's success to veteran leadership: "we are a senior laden team and these ten seniors have been looking forward to this season for a long time. They (the ten seniors) have played a huge role in the development of the team all season."

The Colorado 5A All-Tournament Team selected three Cherry Creek players: setter - Gabi Dewberry, outside hitter - Carrie Baird, and middle - Sam Peters. Baird, a 6-foot-1 senior was chosen as the 5A state tournament MVP and paced the final match over Grandview with 15 kills.

In the Sunshine State the race is between three schools that will not play each other. In the Florida High School Athletic Association State Championship, No. 37 Timber Creek (Orlando) could finish first in Div. 6A, No. 41 Plant (Tampa) first in 5A, and No. 40 Berkeley Prep (Tampa) first in 3A. As it stands this season, Berkeley Prep defeated Plant and Timber Creek defeated Berkeley Prep.

The state race in the Land of Lincoln is down to the final four teams in each division. In Class 4A, No. 16 Benet Academy (Lisle) will face No. 6 Mother McAuley (Chicago), which is on a twenty match win streak since its loss to No. 5 St. James (Lenexa, Kan.) at the NIKE Challenge in Chicago. Benet advanced past No. 42 Naperville Central in the Sectionals, and its last loss was to No. 12 Joliet Catholic, a team that will likely win out in Class 3A, at the Glenbard East Tournament. No. 9 St. Charles East will face unranked Evanston Township before it will get the chance to confront either Benet or McAuley in the finals.

The Hoosier State may have moved on to basketball season, but not before previously ranked No. 18 Indianapolis Cathedral came from in consecutive matches. Cathedral dropped the first set in the semifinals, but it bounced back and took care of Elkhart Memorial, 24-26, 25-20, 25-20, 25-18. The Fighting Irish then dispatched Central in four sets, 21-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-20, for the Class 4A Indiana State crown.

The Class 3A and 2A State Championships went forward without a hitch, as No. 47 Delta defeated Mishawaka Marian in the Class 3A final, 25-21, 25-18, 25-19, and Muncie Burris topped Brownstown Central in the Class 2A final, 25-16, 25-15, 25-20.

The Sunflower State was in full bloom as No. 5 St. James Academy (Lenexa) cruised to the Class 4A Kansas State title over Topeka-Hayden, 25-15, 25-12. Coach Nancy Dorsey shaped this brand new program into a state and national contender in four short years.

The All Tournament Team from Class 6A, chosen by the Kansas Volleyball Association: Alexa Bordewick, Kelsey Lewis, Shannon Majors and Kacia Turner from Washburn Rural. Lauren Brown, Hanna Forst, Rachel Gray, Brook Jansen, Kelly Kolich, and Nia Williams were selected from St. James.

No. 3 Mercy (Louisville) finished atop the Bluegrass State and went five for five over No. 18 Sacred Heart (Louisville), with the final win in the state finals, 25-20, 25-23. The Jaguars most difficult test this season came from No. 32 Assumption, which was ranked as high as No. 6 after the Durango Classic (Las Vegas, Nev.), but the Jags came out on top three of four times. Wins in Florida over No. 40 Berkley Prep (Tampa) and No. 41 Plant (Tampa) also proved the dominance of Mercy.

The Kentucky State Championship All-Tournament Team: Alex Schulte (Newport Central Catholic), Kaela Freppon (Newport Central Catholic), Jaimie Wulfeck (Notre Dame), Jenna Schreiver (Notre Dame), Connie Strong (Owensboro Catholic), Brooke Dowlen (Logan County), Kelly Cole (Paul Dunbar), Maddie Hatcher (Paul Dunbar), Danica Fick (Paul Dunbar), Abbi Williams (Sacred Heart), Emily Juhl (Sacred Heart), Lexi Bauer (Sacred Heart), Madison Hardy (Mercy), Kelsey Anderson (Mercy), Paige Wessel (Mercy), and Most Valuable Player: Casey Garvey (Mercy).

No. 38 Shakopee defeated first-time state qualifiers No. 46 Eastview (Apple Valley), 26-24, 19-25, 25-22, 25-22, in the Class AAA Minnesota State Championship match. The Sabers defeated Mayo (Rochester), 25-16, 25-5, 25-17, in the quarterfinals and Andover, 27-25, 25-22, 25-13, in the semifinals.

The 2008 Class AAA Minnesota State Girls Volleyball All-Tournament Team: Tia Gaffen (Wayzata), Lauren Cipperly (Andover), Catherine Yager (St. Michael-Albertville), Katherine Harms (St. Michael-Albertville), Kaiti Wachter (Eastview), Lauren Grant (Eastview), Anna Olson (Eastview), Elizabeth Benusa (Shakopee), Mollie Geske (Shakopee), Ashley Wittman (Shakopee).

No. 17 Papillion La Vista conquered the Metro Conference Tournament with a 3-0 victory over No. 33 Omaha Marian. The Monarchs finished on top of the District A-1 over Omaha Northwest. The Nebraska State Volleyball Tournament is November 13-15, and the Monarchs could face Omaha Marian for the sixth time this season or No. 28 Grand Island in the finals.

In the Division I Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Volleyball State Championship at Wright State University, it was the battle of the unbeaten teams. Previously ranked No. 20 Olmsted Falls defeated No. 13 Cincinnati Ursuline Academy, 39-37, 16-25, 25-21, 25-12, and finished the season as the only undefeated team in all four divisions with a record of 29-0. The 39-37 first game score was the highest in a state tournament championship match since Ohio went to the rally scoring format in 2004. The previous high was 28-26, set on three different occasions.

The Lone Star State shaped up to be just as exciting as expected. Previously ranked No. 4 Reagan (San Antonio) eliminated District 26 rival No. 6 O'Connor (San Antonio) from the Texas State race. The Rattlers will not have to worry about fellow San Antonio team and previously ranked No. 11 Churchill, as the Chargers fell to previously unranked Austin Westlake.

No. 14 Amarillo advanced to Regional semifinals over Arlington Martin. The Sandies could face No. 21 Clear Creek (Houston) in the final four of the State Qualifier Tournament.

Records through Nov. 11.