Here is a look at the three regions in the Enquirer Northern Kentucky coverage area. Note that district tournaments begin the week of Oct. 20, regional tournaments begin the week of Oct. 27 and the state tournament will be Nov. 7-9.
Teams: 29th District – North Oldham, Oldham County, South Oldham, Trimble County. 30th District – Shelby County, Collins, Anderson County, Spencer County. 31st District – Eminence, Carroll County, Henry County, Owen County, Gallatin County. 32nd District – Simon Kenton, Walton-Verona, Grant County, Williamstown.
Top 5 teams (as ranked by the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association): 1. Oldham County 2. North Oldham 3. Simon Kenton 4. Anderson County T-5. Collins T-5. South Oldham.
Top players to watch: SR. MB Haley Robinson – Simon Kenton, JR. OH Casey Foote – North Oldham, SR. L Danielle Mccarson – Oldham County, JR. OH Kelsey Miller – Oldham County, JR. MB Sarah Snyder – North Oldham, JR. S Hailey Ison – Walton-Verona.
What to expect: The Eighth Region has had the most parity out of the three regions in the Northern Kentucky coverage area over the last few years, and that again looks to be the case in 2014.
Oldham County toppled North Oldham (3-1) in the regional finals last year despite going 0-3 against the Lady Mustangs in two regular season meetings and the 29th District championship. North Oldham returns last year’s Eighth Region player of the year in junior outside hitter Casey Foote and wants revenge against the reigning champs. It should be a war between those two teams again this season.
Simon Kenton graduated a great player in Kaitlin Murray off of last year’s team, but the Pioneers return most of the core from last year’s 28-9 squad that dominated the 32nd District. Talented seniors Haley Robinson and Amarah Nicholson will try and lead Simon Kenton deeper into the postseason this year after falling to North Oldham, 3-1, in the Eighth Region semifinals last year.
After suffering through an 8-10 regular season last year, Shelby County got hot in the postseason and ended up winning the 30th District championship. That district should be another entertaining battle this year, with Shelby County joining Anderson County and Collins for a three-team race. In the 31st District, expect Eminence – coming off a 22-3 campaign in 2013 – to rise to the top again.
Teams: 33rd District – Ryle, Cooper, Boone County, Conner, Heritage. 34th District – St. Henry, Villa, Dixie, Ludlow, Lloyd. 35th District – Notre Dame, Beechwood, Holy Cross, Covington Latin, Holmes. 36th District – NewCath, Highlands, Dayton, Bellevue, Newport.
Top 5 teams (as ranked by the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association): 1. Notre Dame 2. Ryle 3. St. Henry 4. Cooper 5. NewCath
Top players to watch: JR. L/DS Chase Barber – Ryle, SR. OH/S Ashley Bush – Ryle, JR. L Morgan Hentz – Notre Dame, JR. OH Hanna Knaley – Notre Dame, SR. S Kendyll Kraus – St. Henry, SR. MH Karly Lehmkuhl – St. Henry, SR. MB Abby Thelen – Notre Dame, JR. MH/OH Janelle Tobler – St. Henry, SO. Kaity Smith – Cooper.
What to expect: Despite some talent from last year’s roster graduating and a coaching change, Notre Dame is still the team to beat in the Ninth Region and could be a top five team in the state.
The Pandas’ roster is a little bit younger this year, though, so both Ryle and St. Henry will be looking to knock the Ninth Region’s top dog off its pedestal.
Notre Dame’s sheer talent should be enough to give the Pandas an excellent shot at capturing their fourth straight regional title and seventh in the last eight years. Senior Abby Thelen and juniors Morgan Hentz and Hanna Knaley give them enough big-time experience and skill to ensure that. However, the team also lacks the impressive offensive firepower that we’ve seen in recent years.
Ryle has a strong team led by senior Ashley Bush and junior Chase Barber. The Raiders are the favorite to capture another district title in the 33rd, and have hopes of returning to the regional finals where Notre Dame defeated them last year, 3-0. St. Henry, with seniors Kendyll Kraus and Karly Lemkuhl to go with standout junior Janelle Tobler, will have no problem in the 34th district and should be in the mix with Ryle and Notre Dame at the top of the region. Also, multiple opposing coaches think Cooper, led by middle-hitter Kaity Smith and the rest of her strong sophomore class, has the chance to be a sleeper in the Ninth Region this year.
Expect NewCath and Highlands to meet up in the 36th district finals again. Highlands enters the Katelyn Sallee coaching era with an experienced roster, led by seniors Jessica Ginter, Kaitlin Hall and Lauren Maines.
Teams: 37th District – Campbell County, Scott, Brossart, Calvary Christian, Silver Grove. 38th District – Harrison County, Nicholas County, Robertson County, Pendleton County. 39th District – Augusta, Bracken County, St. Patrick, Mason County. 40th District – Montgomery County, George Rogers Clark, Bourbon County.
Top 5 teams (as ranked by the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association): 1. Campbell County T-2. Brossart T-2. Scott 4. Harrison County 5. George Rogers Clark
Top players to watch: JR. OH Jessica Tapp – Scott, SR. S Jenna Trimpe – Scott, SR. S Carson Gray – Campbell County, SR. OH Kirby Seiter – Campbell County.
What to expect: Campbell County is trying to capture its third straight 10th Region title in 2014, but last year’s runner-up Scott is hoping to get over the hump and beat their district rival after coming up just short each of the last two years.
Both teams have the top talent in the region and should be in position for another regional showdown, though they’ll have to be careful with an always-scrappy Brossart team in their district.
With junior outside hitter Jessica Tapp and senior setter Jenna Trimpe in the mix to go with freshman Kelly Franxman, who gained valuable experience while starting last year as an eighth-grader, Scott has the talent and the maturity to make another postseason run. Head coach Andrea Sullivan says her team’s toughness down the stretch will determine whether or not it can bring its first 10th Region title back to Taylor Mill.
Campbell County is entering a new era with former George Rogers Clark head coach Robyn Curry taking over the Camels’ program for the departed Kimberlee Nemcek. Having Standouts like Carson Gray and Kirby Seiter on the roster to go with a few other experienced seniors in Haley Cundiff, Emily Rich and Kourtnie Ruber should make the transition as easy as possible.