Playoff clash adds spice to city rivalry 

Sacred Heart Cathedral girls’ volleyball coach Margi Beima is expecting a madhouse when she walks into the school gym Thursday.

The Irish are hosting the Central Coast Section Division III semifinals and not only is the team one win away from reaching the final, but to advance, Sacred Heart will have to go through archrival St. Ignatius.

The second-seeded Irish (21-8) play No. 3 St. Ignatius (23-8) on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., with the victor taking on the winner of the 7:30 p.m. match between No. 1 Notre Dame of Belmont (28-9) and No. 4 Saratoga (21-11) Saturday at Independence High School in San Jose for the title.

"It will probably be packed and loud and crazy in there," Beima said. "There’s always a ton of emotion when St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Cathedral play and this, especially being in the playoffs, should be really exciting."

Sacred Heart is a two-time defending CCS champion, winning Division III in 2004 and dropping down to Division IV in 2005 after the school saw enrollment decline.

Now Sacred Heart is back in Division III and is looking for its second win over the Wildcats this year.The Irish beat St. Ignatius 3-1 in West Catholic Athletic League play on Nov. 11 at Sacred Heart.

"After losing to them earlier in the year, the kids had a really bitter taste in their mouths," St. Ignatius coach Gregg Nunley said. "To win we need to pass a little better than we did the first time and really focus on the fundamentals."

Hitters Tracy Lam, Sarah Bagaman and Gabby Jolly led a well-balanced Sacred Heart attack that looks to spread the ball around. St. Ignatius sisters Carrie and Erin Grady both finished in the top five in the WCAL in kills.

WEATHER WOES: Wet weather continues to be an issue for prep sports in The City.

Monday’s Transbay boys’ soccer game between Mission and Fremont of Oakland just the most recent of several events that have had to be moved or postponed at the last minute because of what the Park and Recreation Department has deemed "unplayable field conditions."

And now, with the Friday forecast showing a chance of rain, that day’s Academic Athletic Association semifinals — scheduled for 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Kezar Stadium — could be in doubt.

In case of rain, the contingency plan is for top-seeded Lowell to host No. 4 Mission and No. 2 Lincoln to host No. 3 Balboa, with both games moved to 2:15 p.m.

KICKING THEMSELVES: As the Balboa football team prepares for its semifinal against Lincoln, the Buccaneers are likely hoping the outcome is not decided by the kicking game. Balboa had an extra-point attempt blocked in the final minutes of last year’s Turkey Bowl against Lincoln and lost 21-20, then fell 9-8 to Lowell last week when Cardinals kicker Matthew Jew kicked a 29-yard field goal as time expired.

melliser@examiner.com

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