Brooke Roberts has one more chance to lead a Centennial volleyball team deep into the Central Section playoffs -- and the Golden Hawks will be home for the ride.
The section awarded Centennial the No. 1 seed in the Division I playoffs, which begin Tuesday. That means the Golden Hawks won't have to leave their own gym as they chase a 15th section championship for Roberts.
"Isn't that wonderful?" she said. "Well, we have to win to continue to take advantage of that. That's the whole key. We've talked about this throughout the course of the year. It's been a day-by-day grind for this team. They've worked it one day at a time, one hour at a time."
Nine of Roberts' 14 section titles have come at Centennial, including the first, when the Golden Hawks had only a junior varsity team in 1993, the school's first year. Principal Bill Hatcher argued the team into the section's Division IV playoffs, and Centennial, as the lowest seed, ran the table.
After that came a state runner-up in Division III in 1994 and state titles in Division II and I, respectively, in 1995 and 1996.
Roberts announced last year that she was retiring, but decided over the summer to coach one more season; she will retire from teaching in December.
"It's just amazing," Roberts said. "It's absolutely amazing. I feel so blessed."
The Golden Hawks won the Southwest Yosemite League, which also produced No. 3 seed Stockdale, No. 6 Liberty, No. 7 Frontier and No. 10 Bakersfield. Defending champion Clovis West is the No. 2 seed, Clovis is No. 4 and Clovis-Buchanan No. 5.
First-round playoff games are Tuesday (Centennial has a bye), with quarterfinals Thursday.
Southeast Yosemite League champion Tehachapi got the No. 2 seed in Division II, behind Visalia-El Diamante. Independence, another SWYL team, is the No. 3 seed.
Bakersfield Christian, the South Sequoia League champion, is the top seed in Division IV. The Eagles will host No. 16 Lindsay on Tuesday.
Eight of the 15 teams in Division III are from Kern County, but none are seeded higher than No. 4 Shafter, which will play Mira Monte, and No. 5 Highland, which gets Arvin. No. 7 Ridgeview will host No. 10 East, and No. 8 Golden Valley hosts Fresno-Sunnyside. Visalia-Central Valley Christian is the No. 1 seed.
Frazier Mountain is No. 2 and Kern Valley No. 3 in Division V, where O'Neals-Minarets is the top seed.
In water polo, Garces' girls were given the No. 2 seed in Division III behind Hanford. The Rams boys are No. 11 in D-II.
Top seeds roll in section tennis
All of the favorites in the section girls tennis individual finals advanced with ease in the opening rounds Friday at Wasco.
No. 1 singles seed Arianna Tilbury, a sophomore from Stockdale, beat Bakersfield's Isabel Donaldson, the No. 8 seed, 7-5, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. That was actually one of the day's closer matches.
No. 2 Anastasia Drulias of Garces beat No. 7 Sravya Gudipudi of Buchanan, 6-0, 6-3.
In doubles, No. 1 Cara Kemp-Emily Horrigan of Stockdale dropped five total games in four sets on their way to the semifinals.
The semifinals in singles and doubles begin at 10 a.m. today, with championship matches scheduled for 1 p.m.
County cross country meet today
Stockdale senior Blake Haney will run his penultimate cross country race in Bakersfield today in the Kern County Championships at Hart Park.
Haney, a favorite to win the state championship and threaten for the national title, will run in the boys race at 11:30 a.m.
After that, he'll run in the Southwest Yosemite League finals back at Hart Park on Thursday, then move to Woodward Park in Fresno for the Central Section and state finals later this month.
The girls county championship race will go off first, at about 11 a.m. Favorites include Centennial's Molly Pruett, McFarland's Caroline Diaz and Veronica Garcia, Highland's Samantha Berry and Golden Valley's Mariah Ayala.
McFarland appears to be a big team favorite in both the girls and boys races.