Fryer: It's a fall to remember for Katella volleyball


It’s a great fall sports season at Katella.

The school’s football team went 10-0 in the regular season. The Knights are seeded No. 1 in CIF-Southern Section Division 11.

The boys water polo team, seeded No. 1 in Division 7, advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Friday, Katella’s girls volleyball team plays in the CIF-SS Division 8 championship match.

The Knights play Grace Brethren of Simi Valley at Cerritos College at 4:30 p.m. This is the school’s first girls volleyball final. The program previously had teams advance only as far as the quarterfinals.

It took some interesting moves to get Katella to the championship round.

“I did a lot of adjustments with the lineup,” said Katella coach Mary Starbuck, in her 25th season coaching girls volleyball there. “We had to move the pieces of puzzle to where they fit best. Kids moved to positions they usually don’t play.”

Injuries forced that, for the most part. Sprained ankles put four players on crutches.

Katella is moving two setters around in its modified 5-1 rotation system. One of them sets from the back row or one from the front, depending upon the personnel on the court.

“That,” Starbuck said, “was the final piece of the puzzle.”

Among the moves was putting Mylei Vargas-Deason at outside hitter and sliding Sammie Lopez from outside hitter to middle blocker. Clara Fernandez earlier has shifted from outside to middle.

Gabriela Meza, a left-handed senior opposite hitter, said the players are willing to do whatever it takes.

“We’ve put 100 percent heart and dedication into this sport and into our team,” Meza said. “It’s been fun just to have the opportunity to play this sport.”

What also helped the volleyball team is what just might help the Katella football team in the playoffs – the new playoff format that arrived this year in many team sports. Teams are placed into divisions by their recent past competitive performance, instead of by league affiliation.

“We’re now playing in the division we belong in,” Starbuck said, “and we’re having a dream season right now.”

Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:

• A quick historical aside … Katella school and Katella Ave. are named for Katella Ranch, which belonged to John Rea. Thinking of a name for the ranch, he combined the names of daughters Kate and Ella and came up with Katella. When that one comes up on “Jeopardy!” you will be prepared.

• Other O.C. teams in CIF-SS girls volleyball finals at Cerritos College: Division 9, Capistrano Valley Christian vs. San Gabriel Academy, Friday, 9 a.m.; Division 2, Beckman vs. Ventura, Saturday, 2 p.m.; Mater Dei vs. Santa Margarita, Saturday, 8 p.m.

• Admission to the CIF-SS girls volleyball finals is $12 for adults and students without valid student identification and $5 for students with valid student I.D. and for children ages 5-13. Students under 5 are admitted free. Parking is plentiful at Cerritos College – enter on the Alondra Boulevard side.

• Tickets for CIF-SS football playoff games are $10 for adults and $5 for students with valid student identification and for children 13 and younger. Schools might sell tickets in advance. Check with the schools for details.

• Fox Sports West will televise the Santa Margarita-Serra of Gardena Division 1 football first-round playoff game Friday at 7:30 p.m. Live streaming at’s Prep Zone will be available for La Habra-Oaks Christian of Westlake Village beginning at 7 p.m.

• When two teams meet after the first round of the playoffs in any team sport, the team with the fewest number of home games at that point of the playoffs is the home team. If the two teams have had the same number of playoff home games a coin flip determines the home team. Coin flip results are at under the tab of the associated sport.

• CIF-SS cross country prelims are today in divisions 1 and 4 and are Saturday in divisions 2, 3 and 5. Finals are Nov. 19 at Riverside City Cross Country Course. The state meet is Nov. 26 in Fresno.

• CIF-SS girls team tennis finals are today at The Claremont Club in Claremont. Individual prelims are Nov. 21. The individuals tournament continues with round of 32 play Nov. 29.

• Boys water polo quarterfinals are Saturday and the semifinals are Wednesday. Finals are Nov. 19 at the Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine.

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