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Sierra Canyon volleyball reaches new heights in national rankings

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Sade Ilawole and the Sierra Canyon volleyball team defeated Mira Costa 3-0 on Saturday. (Photo by Jose Montanez)

Sierra Canyon athletics may be most known for its basketball program, but the Trailblazers’ star power extends to the volleyball court. With No. 2 basketball recruit Juju Watkins and the rest of the Sierra Canyon basketball team looking on, the Trailblazers volleyball team swept No. 10 Mira Costa to win the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division I championship on Saturday.

Pitt commit Olivia Babcock had 22 kills on a .486 hitting percentage, junior Sade Ilawole racked up 50 assists and Lauren Lynch had 17 digs, as the Trailblazers staked their claim as one of the top teams in Southern California and the nation with the win.

It didn’t get any easier for Sierra Canyon, though. Awarded the second seed in the CIF Southern California Open Division, the Trailblazers faced reigning state champion Marymount in the first round Wednesday.

It was the fourth meeting between the teams, and it was as tightly contested as the previous three. The Trailblazers showcased their championship mettle and managed a five-set victory for their third win of the season over the Sailors.

The Trailblazers’ next opponent is another familiar nemesis: Mira Costa. But for a program ascending to new heights, the limelight hasn’t bothered them yet.

Behind those two quality postseason victories, Sierra Canyon cracks the top 10 in this week’s Just Women’s Sports team volleyball rankings, rising seven spots to No. 8.

Check out the complete rankings below, and click here to see last week’s rankings.

1. Cathedral Catholic (Calif.), 39-0

The Dons won the CIF San Diego Section Open Division championship last week and still haven’t dropped a set. Now, they must navigate a crowded Southern California Open Division to compete for the state title.

2. Cornerstone Christian (Texas), 55-2

The Warriors’ season is over. Due to their national schedule, they won’t compete for a state crown.

3. Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.), 34-1

Duquesne commit Avery Hobson was everywhere with 17 kills, 19 digs and 12 assists as the Royals defeated No. 19 Yorktown in three sets to win the Class 4A state title. After opening the season with a loss to No. 22 McCutcheon, Hamilton Southeastern did not lose again, beating McCutcheon in the regional championship.

4. Washburn Rural (Kan.), 43-1

Star outside hitter Brooklyn DeLeye, the No. 6 overall recruit in the Class of 2023, has officially signed a National Letter of Intent with Kentucky, where she will team up with Bloomfield Hills Marian setter Ava Sarafa.

5. Westminster Christian (Fla.), 27-0

After sweeping Lake Highland Prep in the semifinals, the Warriors must beat 20-win Clearwater Central Catholic to claim their first state title since 2016 and overcome three consecutive state championship defeats.

6. Fayetteville (Ark.), 36-2

The Bulldogs, who won a state title in late October, did not lose to an Arkansas team all season.

7. Bloomfield Hills Marian (Mich.), 45-1

The Mustangs cruised to a district championship and then opened the Division I state playoffs with another sweep.

8. Sierra Canyon (Calif.), 34-4

If the Trailblazers defeat Mira Costa in the regional semifinal, a potential matchup against No. 1 Cathedral Catholic looms in the regional final.

9. Prestonwood Christian (Texas), 38-1

The Lions bring a 26-match winning streak into Friday’s Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class 6A state semifinals.

10. Mira Costa (Calif.), 37-4

The Mustangs were handed their first loss since Oct. 1, falling to Sierra Canyon in the CIF Southern Section Division I final, but they bounced back with an opening-round win in the Southern California Open Division.

11. Tompkins (Texas), 39-4

Rice commit Cindy Tchouangwa notched 21 kills, Erica Dellesky had 23 assists and Tendai Titley contributed 21 digs, as the Falcons swept Ridge Point to advance to the regional tournament for the first time in school history.

12. Mother McAuley (Ill.), 37-3

Michigan commit Ellie White had 10 kills, Northwestern recruit Gigi Navarrete compiled 16 digs and Tess Hayes played provider with 18 assists, as the Mighty Macs advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals.

13. St. Thomas Aquinas (Kan.), 40-3

The Saints are still savoring their Class 5A state championship.

14. Buford (Ga.), 38-5

The Wolves completed the three-peat, beating Lambert in a five-set thriller to win the Class 7A state championship. Mississippi State commit Ashley Sturzoiu led the way with 22 kills and 11 digs, while Polly Cummings had an astounding 48 assists, surpassing 1,000 career assists during the match.

15. Saint Francis (Calif.), 32-0

Taylor Williams racked up 29 kills and Havannah Hoeft had 42 assists as the Lancers beat Archbishop Mitty for the fifth time this season to win the Central Coast Section Open Division. Saint Francis picked up another win in the state playoff opener Wednesday.

16. Notre Dame Academy (Ky.), 34-5

The Pandas beat national power Assumption for the third time this season in the state semifinals and followed it up with a sweep in the state championship, as UNC commit Sydney Nolan recorded 18 kills. Louisville recruit Kamden Schrand added 22 digs, and Lauren Ott and Lizzy Larkins each had 20-plus assists.

17. Pope (Ga.), 45-5

The Greyhounds, who handed No. 20 Pace Academy their only loss this season, came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Sequoyah in a five-set thriller and capture their first state title since 2018.

18. ‘Iolani (Hawaii), 25-5

The Raiders already wrapped up the season as state champions.

19. Yorktown (Ind.), 34-3

The Tigers fell to Hamilton Southeastern for the second time this season, losing 3-1 in the state championship despite stellar performances from sophomores Charlotte Vinson (15 kills) and Addi Applegate (26 digs).

20. Pace Academy (Ga.), 42-1

The Knights won their sixth consecutive state title — in their third different classification — this past weekend when they swept Lovett in the 4A state championship. They appear primed for another state title run next season as well, with juniors leading the team in all major categories.

21. Papillion-LaVista South (Neb.), 34-5

The Titans started out the year in the top 25, and that’s where they’ll end it after winning the Class A state championship behind 25 kills from South Dakota commit Lauren Medeck and 21 kills from Hawaii recruit Stella Adeyemi.

22. McCutcheon (Ind.), 33-2

The team’s season ended with a loss to Hamilton Southeastern earlier in the playoffs.

23. Benet Academy (Ill.), 36-4

If the Redwings get past 39-1 Barrington in the state semifinals, a potential matchup against Mother McAuley looms in the 4A state championship.

24. Highland Park (Texas), 42-3

The Scots’ season ended with a four-set loss to Guyer in the 6A regional quarterfinals.

25. Immaculate Heart Academy (N.J.), 28-1

The Blue Eagles bring a 25-match winning streak into the state championship and have dropped just four sets all season.

Phillip Suitts is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. He has worked at a variety of outlets, including The Palm Beach Post and Southeast Missourian, and done a little bit of everything from reporting to editing to running social media accounts. He was born in Atlanta but currently lives in wintry Philadelphia. Follow Phillip on Twitter @PhillipSuitts.