By Ray Hamill — Four teams from the Humboldt-Del Norte League qualified for this year’s North Coast Section volleyball playoffs, which get under way this coming week.
League champions Eureka and St. Bernard’s each made the grade in the Division-III and Division-VI brackets, respectively, and will be joined by both Arcata and Del Norte in Division IV.
Eureka opens the postseason at home to Acalanes on Tuesday night, while St. Bernard’s has a first-round bye and will open on Saturday at a yet-to-be-determined neutral site against Emery, which also received an opening bye.
Arcata will play at University in San Francisco on Wednesday, while Del Norte opens at Justin-Siena on the same night.
Loggers prepare for the Dons
As champions of the Big 5, the No. 14 seed Eureka girls get to host No. 3 Acalanes, which is 15-12 on the season.
The Dons were 4-6 in the tough Diablo-Foothill League and come into the postseason with some momentum after closing out with three straight wins.
They were ranked fourth among Division-III teams in the NCS this season, six spots ahead of Eureka in the final regular season rankings.
“We have a home game and that’s a positive,” Eureka head coach Rachel Evans said. “And hopefully we’ll have a big crowd and show them what we’ve got.”
The Loggers (18-7) are led by seniors Paige Lyons, Makaila Napoleon and Peyton Suchanek and come into the playoffs with plenty of momentum of their own, having won five of their last six games on the way to clinching the Big 5.
And Evans will be looking for a big defensive effort from her players.
“We definitely have to have our defense on point, and our heads in the game,” the head coach said.
Tuesday’s game is set for 7 p.m.
There are few easy matchups at this stage, and that’s certainly the case for the other three teams in action this coming week.
In Division IV, No. 12 Arcata will play at No. 5 University, while No. 13 Del Norte travels to No. 4 Justin-Siena.
If the two local teams win, they will play each other in what would be a highly-anticipated second-round showdown here on the the North Coast.
Both, however, will have their hands full in the first round against a pair of league champions.
Justin-Siena, out of Napa, is 17-4 and went 11-1 on the way to clinching the Vine Valley Athletic League, while University is 20-11 and was 9-1 on the way to a Bay Counties – West title.
The Tigers (22-12) and Warriors (14-8) tied for second in this year’s Big 5.
Both of Wednesday’s games are scheduled for 7 p.m.
In Division VI, meanwhile, St. Bernard’s and Emery have identical 8-12 records.
The Spartans play out of Emeryville and compete in the Bay Area Independent Athletic League.