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Coach: Scott Sanders (3rd season, 35-39)
Assistant coaches: Keeley Arnold, Paola Jaramillo, Danica Haight, Olivia Mekies
Last season: 13-23
Returning starters: Natalie Young, Sr., OH/MH; Katherine Kouba, Soph., L
Other returning letterwinners: Emma Dunlap, Soph., S; Kearsten Lenth, Soph., S; Misha Canin, Soph., MH/RH; Mayowa Dokun, Soph., MH
Headliner: It didn’t take long for Katherine Kouba to establish herself as one of the top liberos in the Mississippi Valley Conference, collecting a team-high 289 digs in her first varsity season.
Keep an eye on: Senior Natalie Young has big shoes to fill with the Trojans’ top six hitters from last season gone but Young got valuable experience last season collecting 49 kills in 85 sets as a junior.
Ready for a breakthrough: Sophomores Emma Dunlap, Kearsten Lenth, Misha Canin and Mayowa Dokun are all going to have expanded roles from the outset. The Trojans will look for all four to make big jumps in their first full seasons of varsity action.
Circle the date: Sept. 14 West High tournament. The Trojans can gauge their progress early on as they host some of the states stop teams in their own 12-team tournament.
Biggest question: Who steps up on offense? The Trojans have a budding star in the back row in Kouba but must replace virtually all of their offensive production from last season including their starting setter and top six hitters. Young has some experience at the net but the rest of the Trojans will be getting their feet wet for the first time. How quickly the newcomers get up to speed will be the biggest factor for West High’s success.
Coach: Tricia Carty (2nd season, 24-13)
Assistant coach: Reagan Johnson
Last season: 24-13
Returning starters: Kelsey Law, Sr., OH; Mia Loughran, Sr., MB/OH; Lindsey Bolton, Sr., S; Makayla Ribble, Soph., S; Cecilia Aldrich-Ingram, Sr., RS; Joslyn Becker, Jr., RS
Other returning letterwinners: Alia Vanderhoef, Jr., OH; Emma Nugent, Jr., MB/OH
Newcomers to watch: Maya Morales, Jr., L
Headliner: Senior outside hitter Kelsey Law led the Little Hawks with 2.87 kills per set last season hitting 2.06 while racking up 241 kills.
Keep an eye on: With two years of experience leading the City High attack senior setter Lindsey Bolton gives the Little Hawks a veteran presence after posting team-highs in assist each of the past two seasons.
Ready for a breakthrough: City High must replace its top two hitters from a year ago and senior Mia Loughran is the top candidate to get the first crack at those swings after ranking fourth on the team with 109 kills a year ago.
Circle the date: August 27 at West High. City High will attempt to snap a four-match losing skid to its cross-town rival with its first win in the Battle for the Spike series since a five-set victory in 2014.
Biggest question: Are the Little Hawks ready to take a step forward in year two under head coach Tricia Carty? City High jumped from 16 wins in 2017 to 24 a year ago in Carty’s first season leading the program. The Little Hawks are positioned for another step forward this season with six players with starting experience returning.
Coach: Randy Dolson (3rd season, 32-35)
Assistant coaches: Allie Hutcheson, Peggy Dolson, Stacey Casey, Greg Vraspier
Last season: 19-15
Returning starters: Hailey Hested, Jr., S; LeeAnn Potter, Sr., OH; Sydney Woods, Soph., OH; Lauren Roman, Jr., MH; Sam Harvey, Soph., RS
Other returning letterwinners: Jordyn Stammeyer, Sr., MH; Piper Koski, Sr., DS; Addie Schmierer, Jr., DS; Kaylee Berns, Sr., DS; Gabbie Schroeder, Soph., DS
Newcomers to watch: Rylee Fay, Sr., S; Shelby Kimm, Fr., MH; Cassidy Hartman, Fr., MH; Kennedy Daugherty, Fr., MH
Headliner: LeeAnn Potter has led the Lightning in kills and digs each of the past two seasons and was a second-team all-division pick in the MVC last season after hammering 326 kills and adding 296 digs.
Keep an eye on: Junior setter Hailey Hested took a nice step forward last season in her second year running the Liberty High offense and her 8.42 assists per set ranked seventh in Class 4A. Hested spent the offseason working on her leadership skills as she attempts to enter the ranks of the state’s elite setters.
Ready for a breakthrough: Sydney Woods flashed all sorts of potential last season when she ranked second on the team with 186 kills and 39 digs in her first varsity action. With a year of experience under her belt Woods is ready to become a big-time threat opposite of Potter in the Liberty High attack.
Circle the date: September 3 vs. West High. The Lightning host their new cross-town rival for the first time in a Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division match.
Biggest question: Is Liberty High ready to contend for a state tournament in its first season in Class 5A? Liberty High went from 13 wins in its debut season to 19-15 last year in its first season in the Mississippi Valley Conference. All the pieces appear to be in place for the Lightning to make a breakthrough in year number three. The roster returns virtually intact and Liberty High has added first-team all-MVC pick Rylee Fay as a transfer from West High and a talented freshmen class.
Coach: Sarah Ferin (4th season)
Last season: 22-18
Returning starters: Katie Yi, Sr., MH; Kennedy Bombei, Jr. S
Other returning letterwinners: Jane Willms, Jr., RS
Newcomers to watch: Delaney Bombei, Fr., MH/RS; Maddie Nanifold, Soph., OH
Headliner: Senior Katie Yi gives the Spartans a force at the net after ranking four of the team with 124 kills while hitting .285 and posting a team-high 70 blocks a year ago.
Keep an eye on: Look for junior setter Kennedy Bombei to take her game up a notch this season after posting 358 assists and 27 ace serves a year ago.
Ready for a breakthrough: Junior Jane Willms got her feet wet last season posting 25 kills in 40 sets as a sophomore and will look to step into a more prominent role in the Solon attack this fall.
Circle the date: September 10 vs. Mount Vernon. Solon hosts its Highway 1 rival in a WAMAC East Division matchup after Mount Vernon ended the Spartans season in a 3A regional semifinal a year ago.
Biggest question: Who provides the offensive punch on the outside? Yi and Bombei give the Spartans a solid nucleus to build around but the Spartans will need to find some hitters at the pins to have success. Willms should get a crack at more opportunities this season as the Spartans must replace four of their top five hitters from a season ago.
Coach: Jackie Clubb (6th season, 119-80)
Last season: 26-15
Returning starters: Cheyaenne Bunch, Sr., S; Hailey Pollock, Jr., MB; Lauren Riggle, Jr., OH; Calia Clubb, Soph., OH
Other returning letterwinners: Grace Stewart, Sr., OH; Anna Schwarting, Sr., DS; Meagan Harvey, Sr., RS; Emily Sly, Jr.
Headliner: Already a two-year varsity contributor junior Hailey Pollock appear poised for a big season as the focal point of the Clipper attack. The 6-foot-1 Pollock had 217 kills and led the Clippers with 56 blocks last season.
Keep an eye on: With Pollock and first-team all-WAMAC West pick Shauntina Williams on the team last season it was easy to overlook the stellar freshman campaign that Calia Clubb put together. Clubb led the Clippers with 257 kills and had 32 ace serves, 223 digs and 36 blocks a year ago.
Ready for a breakthrough: Senior setter Cheyaenne Bunch is back to run the Clipper attack after posting a team-high 828 assists last season.
Circle the date: September 17 vs. Independence. The Clippers can seize control of the WAMAC West race early when it hosts defending WAMAC champ and 4A state qualifier Independence.
Biggest question: How high can the Clippers climb this season? The pieces are in place for a special season in Tiffin with four returning starters including two of the top three hitters, a setter and a couple of backrow stalwarts all returning. Clear Creek Amana is set up to contend in a strong WAMAC West and push for a state tournament berth.
Coach: Loren Hammerand (1st season)
Assistant coaches: Katie Mathis, John Walsh
Last season: 24-15
Returning starters: Kaiya Luneckas, Sr., OH; Lexi Klinkkamer, Soph., OH
Other returning letterwinners: Jaclyn Bloem, Jr., MH; Lexie Peak, Jr., L
Newcomers to watch: Delaynie Luneckas, Soph., MH; Iva Senio, Fr., OH
Headliner: Sophomore Lexi Klinkkammer showed last season as a freshman she was ready for the spotlight ranking second on the team with 214 kills while posting 47 ace serves and 32 blocks.
Keep an eye on: Senior Kaiya Luneckas is a threat on both sides of the net with her length and athleticism. Luneckas had a team-high 117 blocks a year ago and ranked third on the team with 180 kills.
Ready for a breakthrough: Junior Jaclyn Bloem had 73 kills last season as a sophomore but should see that number soar this season as West Branch seeks to replace the production of graduated senior Abbey Fryauf who had a stagger 925 attempts last season.
Circle the date: September 24 vs. Regina. The Bears host River Valley Conference rival Regina in a South Division showdown.
Biggest question: Who takes over at setter? West Branch has the hitters returning in Klinkkammer, Luneckas and Bloem and could get a big boost from sophomore Delaynie Luneckas. How well the offense runs will be key as the Bears must replace departed senior setter Riley Vaughan.
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