Empire notebook: Unbeaten NCL I teams to face off Friday

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When the Wolverines of Willits travel to St. Helena High on Friday, they’ll bring an undefeated North Central League I record and will be met by the Saints, who also have an unblemished record five games into the season.

Along with Middletown (3-2, 2-0), which hosts Clear Lake (1-4, 0-2) on Friday, all three teams are 2-0 in North Central League I play. The Saints clearly have had no trouble putting points on the board — they are averaging 47 points per game. Willits is averaging more than 21 points per game, but that is not the stat that could play big Friday.

That stat comes from the Willits defense. The Wolverines are allowing just eight points per game, including two shutouts. Something will clearly have to give when these two teams meet Friday.

Hall races to all-time marathon list

Sara (Bei) Hall continued her quest to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a statement performance at the Berlin Marathon on Sunday.

Hall, who graduated from Montgomery High in 2001, ran a 2:22:16, which was good enough for fifth place in the race (winner Ashete Bekere won in 2:20:14), but also moves her to sixth all-time fastest American woman at that distance. It also lops a remarkable four minutes from her previous best time in the marathon.

Atkins, Peterson renew rivalry

The rivalry continues between two prep greats who graduated last year.

Analy grad and UC Davis freshman Sierra Atkins took 53rd at the Bill Dellinger Invitational at the Pine Ridge Golf Club in Springfield, Oregon, on Saturday, finishing the 6K course in 20:55.

Also in that race? Her longtime rival from Healdsburg and now Oregon State freshman Gabby Peterson. Peterson finished in 21:01 to take 60th.

The two friends battled each other much of their high school careers, albeit those showdowns were always in track — Atkins is just now taking up cross country.

Johnson honored for role in Bear Cubs’ streak

Santa Rosa Junior College volleyball’s libero Violet Johnson has been named the California Community College Women’s Volleyball State Athlete of the Week for Northern California, and SRJC’s Athlete of the Month, after leading the Bear Cubs to five straight wins.

Over that stretch, Johnson, a sophomore who prepped at Montgomery, had 41 digs against Butte College, a team that was then ranked 14th in the state.

She is currently ranked fourth in California in total digs.

At the Santa Rosa Classic on Sept. 21, the Bear Cubs (10-4 overall, 2-0 in Big 8) upset both Butte and then 15th-ranked Cabrillo College. The Bear Cubs, currently riding an eight-match win streak, host Sacramento City (7-8 overall, 1-1 in Big 8) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

El Mo alone at the top in NBL-Redwood volleyball

El Molino volleyball moved into the lead in the North Bay League-Redwood Division with a win over defending champs Ukiah last week.

The Lions topped the Wildcats 3-1 (25-22, 20-25, 25-21, 25-15) to emerge as the team to beat in the division. The Lions were led offensively by senior Kassidy Sani’s 22 kills.

Senior Kirstin Johnson has 16 kills for the Wildcats and sophomore Naomi Lunceford had 11.

El Molino was 14-4 overall and 2-0 in the division heading into Tuesday night’s game at Healdsburg High. Ukiah, now 10-12 overall and 1-1 in the division, faced Piner (2-6 overall and 0-1 in league) on the road Tuesday night.

Ziemers coming through for Aggies

The Texas A&M women’s soccer team is ranked 14th in the nation thanks in no small part to the contribution of two Ziemer sisters who both suited up for Montgomery.

Junior Taylor Ziemer, who spent her first two collegiate seasons at Virginia (currently ranked No. 1 in the nation), has three goals and one assist on the season and sister Tera Ziemer has two goals and one assist on the season for the 9-1-2 Aggies, who are 3-0 in the SEC.

A&M next plays a road game against Florida on Sunday.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield.

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