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Three key things about the final eight teams in the women’s volleyball State Tournament

Sophomore+outside+hitter+Taylor+Brydon+records+one+of+her+kills+against+Bakersfield+College+in+the+first+round+of+playoffs.+Photo+credit%3A+Jo+Rankin
Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Brydon records one of her kills against Bakersfield College in the first round of playoffs. Photo credit: Jo Rankin

Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Brydon records one of her kills against Bakersfield College in the first round of playoffs. Photo credit: Jo Rankin

Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Brydon records one of her kills against Bakersfield College in the first round of playoffs. Photo credit: Jo Rankin

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The blood, sweat and tears from dominating victories to heart-breaking losses will come to an end as L.A. Pierce College will host the California Community College Athletic Association’s Women’s Volleyball State Tournament this Saturday and Sunday.

For the first time in championship history, it will be an eight-team single-elimination bracket, according to the CCCAA website (although in 2009, it was eight-team double-elimination).

All eight teams representing their colleges ended the season ranked in the top 10 of the state-wide polls, here is how the bracket looks for Saturday.

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State Tournament Bracket for women's volleyball state championship. Photo credit: Phil Sidavong

Each team has a key offensive player, an important factor to its chance of winning and an overall stat that can make or break each team in the long run.

So here are three key stats/facts about each team going into the tournament (in order of final regular season standings – lowest seed to highest seed).

No. 10 Gavilan College (Goes into State Tournament as No. 4 seed from the North) Opponent – Grossmont College

Star player – Madison Hartman comes in as the No. 14 hitter in the state and has led the team all season with her 337 kills (also led the Coast – South Conference).

Important fact – The Rams are 0-6 against teams ranked higher than them this season. Their opponent, Grossmont, is the No. 1 overall seed.

Top team stat – The team boasts a No. 12 overall offense with 1,151 kills this season.

Gavilan head coach Kevin Kramer did not respond by deadline.

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Sierra College's freshman libero Ryan Blackwood digs a ball for the Wolverines.
Blackwood heads into the State Tournament as the No. 2 player in the state with 630 digs to her name.
Photo courtesy of Vera Nelson, Sierra College head coach.


No. 9 Sierra College (Goes into State Tournament as No. 3 seed from the North) Opponent – L.A. Pierce College

Star player – Grace Lemmo comes in as the highest ranked attacker, even though she is No. 4 in the state with 399 kills. The teams of the No. 1, 2 and 3 attackers in the state did not make it.

“This group has sacrificed every day to get better,” Lemmo said. “Throughout the season different players have come through at different times. We are a true team.”

Important fact – The Wolverines are 0-2 in neutral matches this season, but are 7-3 in away games. Although the other match-ups will be neutral, the Wolves are against home-court/tournament host Pierce.

Top team stat – Sierra is the No. 1 offense in the state, and even though Lemmo leads all players, the team still boasts three players with 200-plus kills.

“We are very excited about the bracket, this young team has grown up and improved throughout the season,” Sierra coach Vera Nelson said. “They feel very proud to represent the Big 8 and NorCal in the state championships.”

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*File photo* El Camino advanced to the State Tournament following wins against Bakersfield and Irvine Valley colleges in the SoCal regionals. Photo credit: Jo Rankin

No. 8 El Camino (Goes into State Tournament as No. 4 seed from the South) Opponent – Grossmont College

Star player – Sophomore opposite hitter Taylor Brydon has been the Warriors go-to attacker and ranks No. 26 in the state for the most kills (307).

“The title ‘defending state champions’ doesn’t scare me,” Brydon said. “I actually feel really confident in my team and we are so ready to go out there and play.”

Important fact – The Warriors are 0-3 against teams ranked higher than them, but all three losses came before the midway point of the season.

The Warriors will be on neutral territory and will play against the defending state champions. Cabrillo has only lost twice this season (to L.A. Pierce and Fresno City colleges).

Top team stat – Long matches are apparently a specialty for the No. 8 overall ranked Warriors. EC is 4-0 in five-set matches, besting San Diego Mesa, Cerritos and Long Beach City (twice) colleges.

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The Cypress College Chargers came out as the first seed from the Orange Empire Conference (one of the most stacked conferences in terms of ability and number of teams) and will represent the SoCal regions as the No. 7 overall seed.
Photo courtesy of Wes McCurtis - Cypress College Sports Information.


No. 7 Cypress College (Goes into State Tournament as No. 3 seed from the South) Opponent – Fresno City College

Star player – Samantha Martinez leads the entire state in assists (1,118) and assists per set (12.42) and has been spreading the ball effectively to her hitters to put the Chargers in its position at the State Tournament.

Important fact – The Chargers are 4-1 on neutral courts, with their only loss coming against Mira Costa College in the finals of the Cerritos Falcon Tournament.

Costa was ranked higher than Cypress all season, and the Chargers head up against Fresno which is the No. 5 team in the state (higher than both Cypress and Costa).

Top team stat – The team leads the state in assists due to Martinez, but what is a result of the strong setter is the No. 12 offense that the Chargers boast, led by Samantha Madrid and Rockelle Gholson.

No. 5 Fresno City College (Goes into State Tournament as No. 2 seed from the North) Opponent – Cypress College

Star players – Jenna Goldsberry is the No. 48 attacker in the state with 250 kills, Sydney Rigby is the No. 32 setter in the state with 592 assists and Shanea Laird is No. 17 in the state with 77 total blocks.

Important fact – Fresno is one of two teams to beat defending state champs Cabrillo, during the regular season, and is one of just two teams to have only one loss this season (the other team is No. 1 overall seed Grossmont), with their loss being a season-split against Cabrillo.

“All the colleges that have advanced have amazing overall records and have had a strong strength of schedule,” Rams head coach Kieran Roblee said. “We are aware that Cypress is a very balanced team with tremendous middles and play in a highly competitive conference where they were being challenged every match. We look forward to the challenge that a strong team like Cypress presents.”

Top team stat – Roblee highlights that Cypress has been consistent, but the most consistent team that qualified for the State Tournament is Fresno City.

The Rams rank in the top 10 of kills, blocks, assists and total points; no other team at the State Tournament can boast that stat.

*Note: A photo was not provided from FCC.*

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The No. 4 overall seed, Cabrillo College Seahawks, are the defending state champions and are looking to create a name for themselves other than "defending state champs."
Photo taken by Jan Furman, courtesy of Cabrillo head coach Gabrielle Neville.


No. 4 Cabrillo College (Goes into State Tournament as No. 1 seed from the North) Opponent – El Camino

Star player – Amber Bothman is No. 2 in the state for total blocks with her 135 total, but is the highest ranked blocker in the State Tournament.

Important fact – Cabrillo College is the 2015 defending state champion and one of just two teams returning to the State Tournament from last year (L.A. Pierce is the other).

The team has been in this situation before, this being the sixth time in the State Tournament since 2010.

“Although we have many returners from last year’s State Championship team, all year we have said this is a new team treading its own path. I guess I don’t think of it as defending the state title,” Cabrillo head coach Gabrielle Neville said. “This year’s team really tried to create its own identity in going into the tournament. I know we have a big target on our back and everyone is gunning for the same thing so we know it’s going to be a battle. I love this team and their energy and I know they want it for sure.”

Top team stat – The team is No. 16 in the state for kills, but has no player in the top 50, which is the normal case for the Seahawks as their focus seems to be defense.

Cabrillo is the No. 2 blocking defense in the state behind Bothman.

No. 2 L.A. Pierce College (Goes into State Tournament as No. 2 seed from the South) Opponent – Sierra College

Star players – Peyton Moyles is a top 5 setter in the state as she ranks No. 4 in assists (1014) and No. 5 in assists per set (10.45). The setter has been used to moving the No. 3 Brahmas’ offense around the court.

Important fact – L.A. Pierce is the tournament host and is a whopping 15-1 at home (only loss is to No. 1 overall seed Grossmont).

The Brahmas are also the only other team, besides Cabrillo, to return to the State Tournament in 2015 (both teams were the winner and runner-up).

Top team stat – The No. 3 offense in the state is led by Cassidy Rosso and three other players with 100+ kills (there are also two other players just shy of 100).

*Note: Attempts were made to contact Pierce’s athletics through Twitter, but none were responded to by deadline.*

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No. 1 overall women's volleyball seed, Grossmont College.
The Griffins head into the State Tournament as the top ranked team from the South and will play Gavilan College.
Photo courtesy of Jamie Ivers, Grossmont's head coach.


No. 1 Grossmont College (Goes into State Tournament as No. 1 seed from the South) Opponent – Gavilan College

Star player – Lauren West is the No. 2 setter in the state for assists (1063) and assists per set (11.73).

Important fact – The only loss for the Griffins came in an away match against Santa Barbara City College, apart from that, Grossmont is perfect.

GC is also 5-0 in neutral matches and will look to extend that against Gavilan and against any opponent in the second round (the only way Grossmont plays an “away” match is against L.A. Pierce in the finals, who the Griffins beat twice in the regular season).

Top team stat – Grossmont lands in the top 10 of kills, assists and total points, which makes them a threat at all ends of the court. The overall No. 1 seed will look to take advantage of their hot season and take it all, barring upsets from an underdog.

“I think State Championships are always fun and when you get there. It’s truly anybody’s championship,” Grossmont head coach Jamie Ivers said. “You can only hope that your team performs the way they have all season in order to get to that point.”

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Three key things about the final eight teams in the women’s volleyball State Tournament