Matt Johnson appreciates the recognition, but even the Coronado girls volleyball coach is a bit skeptical of his team’s lofty national rankings.
With two of the nation’s top players back from the team that won the Division I state title, the Cougars appeared in nearly every reputable preseason poll and climbed as high as No. 4 in one national poll before last week’s slip-up at home against Shadow Ridge.
Now, Johnson will truly find out how the Cougars stack up against some of the nation’s best teams when the 20th annual Durango Fall Classic takes place Friday and Saturday at four schools across the valley.
“We need to go out and prove a lot, let’s just put it that way,” Johnson said this week. “We’re not quite sure how much we’ve earned yet of that recognition. Shadow Ridge took it to us last week and showed us a few things we need to work on. But we’re excited to play against really good competition.”
The Cougars (11-1), led by 6-foot-4-inch Utah commit Berkeley Oblad and standout junior setter Cali Thompson, are the highest seed of the 11 local teams entered in the Durango Fall Classic. Coronado’s pool includes Kamehameha (Hawaii), which was the tournament runner-up last season, along with 2011 runner-up Los Alamitos (Calif.) and Galena.
The Durango Fall Classic is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top tournaments, and this year’s 64-team field includes 19 teams ranked in PrepVolleyball.com’s preseason Top 100.
No. 13 Torrey Pines (Calif.), the two-time defending tournament champion, is back, along with No. 2 Redondo Union (Calif.), No. 5 Archbishop Mitty (Calif.), No. 9 Assumption (Ky.) and No. 19 Lakewood (Calif.), which owns a 3-1 victory over Redondo Union this season.
Pool play begins at 1 p.m. Friday with matches taking place at Durango, Foothill, Green Valley and Palo Verde. The championship bracket final is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Durango.
“We set some goals at the beginning of the season to win the tournaments that we entered,” Johnson said. “The (Las Vegas Invitational), which we won, Durango. That’s a lofty goal, but we’re going to shoot for it. Otherwise, why should we play in it?”
■ GAELS MOVE UP — Bishop Gorman’s football team rose one spot to No. 2 in this week’s USA Today Super 25 rankings. The Gaels, who rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to pull out a 43-42 victory at Centennial (Calif.) last week, benefited from a loss by then-No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.).
Gorman (4-0) hosts undefeated Santa Margarita (Calif.) and its talented junior quarterback, K.J. Costello, on Friday. The Gaels needed two overtimes to defeat Santa Margarita 34-31 in last year’s matchup.
St. John Bosco (Calif.), which visits Gorman on Sept. 26, remained No. 1 in the USA Today poll.
■ RECENT COMMITMENTS — Centennial senior place-kicker Zach Mays to Cornell and Faith Lutheran senior lineman John Molchon to Boise State for football.
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.