Mira Costa draws top seed in Southern Section Division 1 girls’ volleyball playoffs

The Mira Costa girls' volleyball team celebrates after a victory.
The Mira Costa girls’ volleyball team celebrates its five-set win over Redondo Union on Sept. 27.
(Luca Evans / Los Angeles Times)

Time for some never-before-seen mayhem in the Southern Section Division 1 girls’ volleyball playoffs.

Pairings for the new pool-play format were released Saturday morning with some end-of-season surprises. Gone is the standard single-elimination bracket format. Now, teams will be seeded into separate pools for three-game series that will determine the two teams left standing to play for the title.

Pool A consists of Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (seeded No. 1), Santa Ana Mater Dei (4), Lakewood (5) and Palos Verdes (8). Pool B has Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (2), L.A. Marymount (3), Newport Harbor (6) and Huntington Beach (7).

It’s no surprise for Mira Costa, which has been dominant all season thanks to an explosive offense and the one-two punch of setter Charlie Fuerbringer and outside hitter Drew Wright. Marymount and Sierra Canyon in the same pool sets up an intriguing Mission League matchup, while Newport Harbor sneaked ahead of Huntington Beach and into Division 1 with a 27-25, 25-23, 25-19 win over the Oilers on Tuesday.

In a slight surprise, Redondo Union (25-11) was bumped to Division 2. It lost two matches to Palos Verdes, but beat Marymount and Mater Dei earlier in the season, and lost a close match to Mira Costa.

Opinions on the new pool-play format have largely been split among Division 1 coaches, with some questioning the necessity for the change and others lauding an infusion of excitement in a year when 10 programs have knocked off one another. .

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“I think it’s sort of fitting,” Sierra Canyon coach Stefanie Wigfall said.

San Clemente (22-9), who had beaten Mater Dei, Palos Verdes, Sierra Canyon and Newport Harbor, was slotted as the seventh seed in Division 2.

Mission Hills Bishop Alemany (20-6), which finished ahead of Studio City Harvard-Westlake in a stacked Mission League, was tabbed as the top seed for Division 3. Saugus, which cruised to a 29-2 record this season, is the highest seed in Division 4.

Here’s the pool-play schedule for Division 1:

Wednesday, 6 p.m.

Pool A: Lakewood at Mira Costa; Palos Verdes at Mater Dei. Pool B: Newport Harbor at Sierra Canyon; Huntington Beach at Marymount.

Oct. 25, 6 p.m.

Pool A: Palos Verdes at Mira Costa; Lakewood at Mater Dei. Pool B: Huntington Beach at Sierra Canyon; Newport Harbor at Marymount.

Oct. 29, 6 p.m.

Pool A: Mater Dei at Mira Costa; Palos Verdes at Lakewood. Pool B: Marymount at Sierra Canyon; Huntington Beach at Newport Harbor.

The championship match will take place Nov. 5 at Cerritos College.