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LOCAL NOTEBOOK: Area volleyball standouts set to play in NCAA tournament this week

Three local volleyball standouts, including two former BVarsity All-Area players of the year, will be playing in the NCAA championship tournament that starts Wednesday.

Former Liberty standouts Lauryn Burt and Elise Ferreira, recognized as the area’s top high school volleyball players in 2017 and 2018, respectively, will be in action along with former Independence outside hitter Mahalia Swink.

Burt, a junior setter at UNLV, is second on her team with 227 assists in 12 matches this season. The Runnin’ Rebels play Illinois State at 4 p.m. Wednesday, with the winner advancing to play No. 2 seed Kentucky. Burt is a two-time Fall Academic All-Mountain West performer. In high school, she helped the patriots to three Southwest Yosemite League titles and the 2016 Central Section championship.

Ferreira, a sophomore setter at Oregon, is also second on her team with 342 assists in 18 matches. The Ducks are seeded 10th and received a first-round bye. They are scheduled to play the winner of Wednesday’s match between Army West Point and Notre Dame at 9 a.m. on Thursday. At Liberty, Ferreira split time as an outside hitter and setter until her senior year, earning All-SWYL honors three times.

Swink, a graduate senior who played three years at Alabama before transferring to Dayton, is slated to play against Towson in Wednesday’s first-round match at 12:30 p.m. She had 64 kills and 32 blocks in 14 matches this season for the Flyers. The winner of her tournament match plays No. 6 Washington at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. At Independence, Swink helped the Falcons to the 2015 section title and was a two-time All-Area and All-SYL performer.

JC BASKETBALL

Bakersfield High graduate Ronnie Stapp, the 2018 BVarsity All-Area Player of the Year, will be playing in the NJCAA Division II national basketball tournament next week in Danville, Ill.

Stapp, who transferred from Fullerton College to Southern Arkansas University Tech at the semester, had 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals to help the Rockets advance with a 82-66 victory over Arkansas State Mid-South in Saturday’s Region 2 tournament championship.

For the season, the 6-foot-6 guard is averaging 12 points, six rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game for No. 12-ranked SAU Tech (17-4), which opens tournament play against fifth-ranked Ancilla College (Ind.) at 11 a.m. on April 21.

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Bakersfield Christian boy's basketball posted its first victory of the season on Monday — and with style — rallying to beat host Clovis West 76-71. It was the first time a Bakersfield team has defeated coach Vance Walberg and Golden Eagles in Fresno in at least 30 years, according to BCHS coach Garrett Brown.

The Eagles (1-2), who opened their season with an 82-60 loss to state-ranked Northridge-Heritage Christian last month, trailed Clovis West by 15 midway through the third quarter before mounting a frantic comeback.

The rally started with a 3-pointer by freshmen Bentley Waller, and following a timeout by Brown, led to the Eagles outscoring the Golden Eagles 34-17 the rest of the way.

Senior Seth Marantos made a big 3-pointer to give Bakersfield Christian a 72-71 lead with under a minute to play, and he and Jackson Tucker each made a pair of free throws down the stretch to cinch the victory.

Tucker led the way with 25 points, with Erick Chaney scoring 16. Marantos had 13, Charlie Stump 12 and Waller added seven for the Eagles.

HIGH SCHOOL SIGNINGS

Garces High will celebrate five student-athletes committing to play at four-year colleges with a ceremony at 12:55 p.m. on Wednesday.

Senior wrestler DeAndre Beldo is signing with NCAA Division II Gannon University (Erie, Penn.), along with golfer Julianna Escobedo (Division III Wellesley College (Mass.)), water polo players Austin Galanski (Division III Redlands) and Isabella Garcia (Division I Santa Clara) and soccer player Brady Highfill (NAIA Westmont College).

HIGH SCHOOL WATER POLO

After four successful seasons as the director of aquatics and head coach for the boys and girls water polo programs at Garces, Jason Gall is stepping down.

Gall has accepted the position of Aquatics Director and boys water polo head coach at Dallas Jesuit in Dallas. His last day at Garces is April 20.

“This was one of the toughest decisions I have ever made in my life,” Gall said in a news release. “I’ve been a part of (Bakersfield) community for almost 14 years now. We have a lot of things invested in the community. The relationships and I have made, specifically at Garces, can’t be replaced.”

In his four years at Garces, the boys water polo team was 68-19-1 overall with two East Yosemite League titles. The Rams won the Central Section Division II championship in 2017 and 2018 and advanced to the CIF Northern California Division II semifinals twice in 2017 and 2019 (the 2018 NorCal playoffs were postponed due to state wildfires). In 2019, the Rams advanced to the D-I section semifinals.

On the girls side, Gall led the team to an overall record of 52-29. The Rams won the D-II section title in 2019 and advanced to the NorCal D-III semifinals after posting a 24-6 record.