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Division 2 playoffs loaded with top O.C. teams
In the new CIF-SS playoff grouping system, Division 1 isn’t the division that is loaded with county teams aiming for a title this year.
This year, Division 2 figures to be hotly contested, as Orange Lutheran, El Dorado, Esperanza, Beckman and Laguna Beach are among the county teams packed into that bracket.
El Dorado, the North Hills champion, is seeded second and Orange Lutheran, the third-place team from the Trinity League, is the third seed.
El Dorado has a first-round bye. The Lancers will be at Capistrano Valley, which finished second in the Sea View League, for the first round on Tuesday night.
“I think the seed is appropriate,” Orange Lutheran coach Andrew Mabry said. “Of the known quantities, Ventura deserves to be No. 1 in our division.”
In the new groupings, the Lancers are apart from their Trinity League counterparts, Santa Margarita and Mater Dei, which are the top two seeds, respectively, in Division 1.
Mabry understands this will not be an easy road just because it’s a division lower.
“Our league forces you to be at your best every night,” he said. “Hopefully, we learned how to play good volleyball and I’m hopeful that it materializes into having a chance to win every game.”
Esperanza finished second in the Crestview League and dropped to No. 8 in the final CIF Division 2 poll. The Aztecs host Mayfield of Pasadena in the first round and could be in line to face Marmonte League champion Westlake in the second round and possibly top-seeded Ventura in the quarterfinals.
“I think it (the draw) is fair in terms of where Orange Lutheran and El Dorado are,” Esperanza coach Isaac Owens said. “I’m not super excited where we’re at (No. 8), but at some point you have to play the best to win CIF.”
In other Division 2 first round games: Beckman visits M.L. King of Riverside and Laguna Beach hosts Fountain Valley. The winner of the Laguna Beach-Fountain Valley match will be at El Dorado in the second round.
In Division 1, the top-seeded Eagles and fourth-seeded Huntington Beach have first-round byes. Huntington Beach finished the regular season tied for first with Edison in the Sunset League. The Oilers entered the playoffs as the No. 1 team from the league.
Mater Dei, the second seed, hosts Woodbridge in the first round.
Sage Hill, the Academy League champion, is the top seed in Division 3 and has a first-round bye. Teams to watch in this division include Foothill, Troy and Saddleback Valley Christian.
Garden Grove is the third seed in Division 7, and Capistrano Valley Christian is the No. 3 seed in Division 9.
Oxford Academy, the fourth-place team from the Academy League, has a wild-card match today against Arroyo in Division 7.
Second round matches are Thursday, followed by quarterfinal matches Saturday. The semifinals will take place Nov. 8.
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