Three squads ready for CIF

BURBANK ? Bellarmine-Jefferson High boys' volleyball Coach Miguel Segura isn't upset that his team has to travel to Santa Barbara for the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs.

He's not discouraged that his team has to take on a league champion in Laguna Blanca, and he's put off by the fact that not many give his Guards a chance at getting to the second round.

Segura is just happy his squad is in the postseason.

"I can't be more happy or more proud of our team to be able to make it to the playoffs," said Segura, whose team is in the playoffs for the first time in nine years. "A step in our building process this season was to make it to the playoffs, and we did that."

The Guards will take on host Laguna Blanca, the Condor League champion, at 7 p.m. Friday. Bell-Jeff is an at-large entry after finishing fourth in the Santa Fe League.

The other volleyball team to make the playoffs is Providence, which will travel to Los Angeles Pilibos for a 5 p.m. Division V first-round match Friday.

The lone boys' tennis team to qualify is Burbank, which will make the long trip to San Luis Obispo for a 2 p.m. Division II first-round match Thursday.

It has been a remarkable season for Bell-Jeff (11-10, 5-5 in league), which had won just four matches the previous two seasons.

Segura said two of the Guards' best players, junior setter/outside hitter Chris Lopez and junior outside hitter Habbib Yazdi, have returned to the lineup after suffering injuries late in the season.

Laguna Blanca (14-2, 6-0) is ranked No. 8 in the division.

"All of our guys have worked hard this season to help us rebound," Segura said. "They deserve to be in the playoffs."

The Pioneers (12-8, 2-4) enter the postseason after finishing third in the Liberty League. The team is ranked seventh in the division, and was ranked as high as second earlier in the season.

Providence advanced to the quarterfinal match of the playoffs last season.

Pilibos (10-4, 6-0) won a Valley League championship.

"[Pilibos] is a league champion, so you have to respect that," Pioneer Coach James Jimenez said. "But their league isn't as tough as the league that we have to play in.

"I think it will be a tough match for us. We are just hoping to step up and play well in the playoffs."

Providence is paced by All-CIF and Burbank All-Area senior outside hitter Alex Knopper.

Having to travel to San Luis Obispo, Burbank Coach Paul McNiff knows the toll a long drive can have on athletes.

"A few years ago our girls' team had to travel to [Santa Maria] Righetti for the playoffs, and they were just wiped out when we got there," he said.

"I'm just hoping the guys will just relax or sleep on the way to the [match]."

McNiff will be making the drive to San Luis Obispo for the second time in less than a week.

"My wife and I were up there last weekend for a wedding," he said. "I joked to her that we would probably be coming back up there for the playoffs."

Burbank (11-6, 6-4) finished third in the Foothill League and San Luis Obispo (17-1, 12-0) ? ranked No. 8 in the division ? won the Pac-5 League title.

Burbank is paced by singles players, and brothers, Garn and Pete Sangsuriyakul, as well as the doubles team of Leo Kim and Tigran Yeremyan.

"If all of our guys do their jobs, I think we can be competitive," McNiff said. "We just have to stay focused and play well."

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