SAMOHI — With only five games left on the Vikings’ schedule this season, the Santa Monica High School girls’ volleyball team is looking to continue on the success they have enjoyed so far this year after having played in two pre-season tournaments (one in Hawaii), a mid-season tournament held at the Marlborough School last weekend, and in several regular season games.

So far this season, the Vikings are just 4-8 in non-league tournament play, but Santa Monica Head Coach Liane Sato is optimistic her team can take it to the next level when faced with a challenge within the Ocean League or with playoff hopes in play.

Before the start of the 2010 season, Coach Sato included winning the Ocean League and qualifying for the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section playoffs once again as the team’s goals for this year.

“I most look forward to our team continuing to work as a cohesive unit together and for us to all improve,” junior Dana Ritchie said. “Hopefully the high-level tournaments we’ve played in this year will prepare us for the CIF postseason in November.”

Last season, the Vikings finished with a record of 15-7 and were eligible for the CIF-SS postseason. They ended Ocean League play in second place with a record of 9-1, being narrowly edged out by Beverly Hills High School, and made it to the third round of the playoffs where they were knocked off by Poly High School of Pasadena.

Coach Sato and the team are optimistic they can get even further in the playoffs this season and the weekly division rankings recently released by the CIF echoes their optimism — the Vikings have broken the top 10 of the CIF-SS Division 3-AA poll as the only team from the Ocean league to do so, coming in ranked No. 8.

The Vikings play in the competitive six-team Ocean League with perennial league-leaders Beverly Hills High School as well as against Morningside, Culver City, Hawthorne and Inglewood High Schools.

The Vikings will travel to play league rival Inglewood today at 3:15 before taking on both Culver City and Morningside next week.

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