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Different roads to same spot

Volleyball: There's a unique path all five girls squads will have to take to ultimate destination in CIF playoffs.

November 03, 2012|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

With five local teams headed to the CIF Southern Section girls' volleyball playoffs, there's plenty of different scenarios to mull over with each one facing a different path to what each squad hopes will be a CIF title.

Bellarmine-Jefferson is the only team seeded for the postseason, while Burbank High also figures to be favored at home in its opener and Burroughs, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and Providence hit the road Tuesday.

There was plenty of good news for the Guards this week. Not only did they lock up the third seed for the Division IV-A playoffs with a perfect run through the Santa Cruz League, but they'll have their impact middle blocker Mariah Bankhead back from a knee injury that's kept her out most of the year.

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"We've had two practices with her right now and she hasn't missed a beat," Bell-Jeff Coach Miguel Segura said. "She has been antsy to get back on the court and she came out real strong. Right now, she looks very good with the team."

After falling to No. 1-seeded and eventual Division IV-A champion Hemet in the 2011 quarterfinals, the Guards (14-7, 9-0) are looking to improve on last year's run.

Bell-Jeff will host Kern Valley, an at-large team out of the High Desert League, Tuesday and, should it win, it won't face another ranked team until a possible date with Laguna Blanca (12-5, 7-1), which entered the playoffs ranked eighth, in the quarterfinals.

If things go according to plan, the Guards wouldn't face another seeded team until the semifinals against No. 2 Frazier Mountain (21-2, 10-0).

"That's one of the bigger goals, to surpass what we did last year, but right now we are just taking it one game at a time," Segura said. "They're real confident and they're planning on making it to the championship. Obviously, we're taking it one game at a time, but they have high goals for this year and they want to go all the way."

Burbank, which earned a share of the Pacific League championship when it defeated Burroughs in its regular-season finale, hosts Valley Christian Tuesday. The Crusaders finished third in the Olympic League with a 4-4 in league, 17-6 overall, record.

"We had a great last week-and-a-half or so of league and hopefully we can keep that going," said Bulldogs Coach Sarah Brown, whose team went 18-3, 13-1 in the regular season. "I feel like playoffs is about who can stay mentally tough the longest.

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