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Girls volleyball: Snipes sisters both vying for NorCal titles on Tuesday

  • Elsa Snipes of Archie Williams gets a kill during the...

    Elsa Snipes of Archie Williams gets a kill during the Falcons’ volleyball match against Redwood in San Anselmo on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

  • Sadie Snipes (8) of Branson watches one of her 16...

    Sadie Snipes (8) of Branson watches one of her 16 kills on the night get past a pair of University defenders at the net during their NCS D-III girls volleyball final in Ross, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. Branson won the match 3-0. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • Sadie Snipes (8) of Branson reaches for a shot against...

    Sadie Snipes (8) of Branson reaches for a shot against Marin Academy in a girls volleyball game at Branson School in Ross, Calif. on Sept. 1, 2022. (Douglas Zimmerman/Special to the Marin Independent Journal)

  • SAN ANSELMO CA - NOVEMBER 9: Elsa Snipes (1) watches...

    SAN ANSELMO CA - NOVEMBER 9: Elsa Snipes (1) watches her kill as she leads Archie Williams over Mountain View during their State D-II girls volleyball playoff game at Archie Williams High in San Anselmo, Calif. on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. Archie Williams won 3-1 to advance to the next round. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)



Seconds after the Archie Williams High volleyball team won its NorCal semifinal match on Saturday night, senior Elsa Snipes raced over to College of Marin to catch her younger sister, Sadie, play for The Branson School.

It’s a balancing act that has been going on for two years, not just for the players but also for their parents.

Unfortunately — or fortunately as the case may be — the Snipes family has to split up Tuesday night since Elsa will be playing in the NorCal Division III final at 6 p.m. in San Anselmo and Sadie will be playing in the D-I final in Stockton.

“They are so incredibly supportive of each other,” said Richard Snipes, the players’ father. “I have hundreds of pictures of all those moments in the stands with one of the girls cheering for the other one, of them hugging or crying after a match. For me, that’s what stands out the most.”

Elsa and top-seeded Archie Williams (19-6) host third-seeded Mercy of Burlingame (26-9), marking the first time the school has been to the NorCal final in more than 20 years. The Peregrine Falcons have not dropped a set since losing to Branson in the NCS semifinals.

“We’re finally clicking,” said Elsa Snipes. “It’s nostalgic playing each game like it’s our last. Every single game we’ve been crushing it.”

Junior Sadie Snipes and fifth-seeded Branson (21-10) will play at third-seeded St. Mary’s (27-8). Branson has already won its first MCAL championship since 2014, the NCS Division III title and is making its first appearance in a NorCal final since 2015.

(NCS is based on enrollment, but for states, brackets are reseeded and teams can be moved up or down. Last season, Branson was bumped up to the Open division where the Bulls lost in the first round.)

“It’s a good problem to have,” said Mara Snipes about her daughters’ NorCal finals on the same night 90 miles apart. “Game day is a big day at our house.”

Elsa and Sadie have good genes. Mara ran the 800 and 1,500 for the University of Michigan track team. Richard has played indoor and beach club volleyball in addition to coaching. Both parents are into ultra-running these days.

The Snipes provided their young daughters with a variety of sports opportunities, and the magic happened the instant the girls attended their first volleyball camp at 8 and 9 years old.

“We’re an active family — we wanted our kids to have an active lifestyle,” said Mara Snipes. “We knew the moment they first started playing volleyball, that was their sport. They could not stop smiling.”

The Snipes moved to Park City, Utah, during the pandemic after Elsa had already started attending Archie Williams. When they returned to Marin, Elsa remained at AW and Sadie enrolled at Branson.

Elsa is 5-feet, 8-inches tall and 18 months older than Sadie. Her ultimate focus is beach volleyball and she has committed to play for Arizona State next year. According to Richard Snipes, Elsa is like a player/coach on the court.

“It starts from her wanting to be out there and have fun,” Richard said of Elsa. “It’s so clear she’s having a great time.”

Sadie is 6-foot and still plays indoor volleyball for her club team, Absolute. She suffered a broken leg playing volleyball last spring and has dug deep to fully recover in time for the playoffs. The injury made the sisters even closer.

“When it comes to Sadie, I want what’s best for her,” said Elsa Snipes. “After her injury, her finally being herself on the court is so inspiring. I’m competitive, but I’m OK losing to my sister, which kind of surprised me.”

Sadie Snipes says one of the big reasons she started playing club volleyball was because Elsa did. Fast forward to this season when Sadie leaned on Elsa more than ever as she recovered from her broken leg.

“Just looking in the stands and seeing her cheering for me means a lot,” said Sadie Snipes. “She’s still there and has my back even when things are going well.”

If both teams win their NorCal finals, the Snipes will reunite for two great days of volleyball at Santiago Canyon College in Orange. The Division I state final is Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Division III is Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

“This is such an amazing run for our family, for the girls and their teams,” said Richard Snipes. “It’s really cool that both of their teams are playing their best volleyball of the year.”

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