Central Catholic Knights
Coach: Brad McCarter (143-62 in eighth season)
2013 results: 28-11; defeated Covington 3-0 to win sectional; defeated Frontier 3-1 to win regional; defeated Wes-Del 3-1 to win semistate, lost to Barr-Reeve 3-1 in state finals
Key returnees: Emily Burks, sr., OH (231 kills, 53 aces, 28 blocks, 201 digs); Elaine Davis, sr., OH/Opp. (144 kills, 32 blocks); Lindsey Powers, jr., DS/OH (22 aces, 344 digs); Cameron Onken, jr., Opp./OH (262 kills, 73 blocks, .281 hitting pct.); Holly Bollock, jr., MB (22 blocks)
Others to watch: Sammy Bonner, sr., S; Nicole Pennell, sr., MB/Opp.; Jenna Corbett, sr., OH/Opp.; Megan Haan, sr., Opp./MB; Belle Kendrick, jr., S; Maddie Weisgerber, so., OH; Jada Barrett, so., DS
Outlook: The Knights will have a nice blend of youth and experience but lost key parts of last year’s Class A state runner-up team. Athletic ability will give CC an upper hand against plenty of opponents, and McCarter’s squad was inspired by last year’s success, as evidenced by the amount of work put in during the offseason.
Faith Christian Eagles
Coach: Trent Herron (fifth season)
2013 results: N/A, lost to Clinton Prairie 3-1 in sectional
Key returnees: Hailey Linback, sr., S; Kylie Campbell, sr., OH/DS; Lyndsey Smith, jr., MB; Lizzie Gardner, jr., MB; Shelby Hudelson, so., OH; Briley Hancock, so., OH; Aubrey Adamson, so., S/OH
Others to watch: None listed
Outlook: Consistency is the stress of Herron early in the season from the practice floor to the matches. Herron hopes consistency lends itself to greater control and allows the Eagles to be competitive regularly.
Coach: Meghan Mohr (first season)
2013 results: 21-11; lost to McCutcheon 3-1 in sectional championship
Key returnees: Brynn Roy, sr., OH (243 kills, 37 aces, 31 blocks, 176 digs); Kassandra Williams, sr., MH (234 kills, .397 hitting pct., 81 blocks); Leah Warren, sr., DS (36 aces, 116 digs); Rebecca Dinkel, sr., L (310 digs, 32 aces); Sydney Garrett, sr., S (69 aces, 246 digs, 553 assists); Ariel Murawski, sr., OH (130 kills, 41 blocks, .346 hitting pct.); Kiley Banker, jr., MH/S (177 kills, 68 aces, 33 blocks, 202 digs, 393 assists)
Others to watch: Kadie Hawks, jr., DS; Jeanette Hintz, jr., DS; Kiley Marshall, fr., OH
Outlook: It’s a new coach, but a talented seven-player senior class gives Mohr high hopes for her transition to Raider volleyball. Harrison was among the Class 4A programs receiving votes for the coaches poll in the preseason and should be among the favorites in its first year in the North Central Conference.
Lafayette Jeff Bronchos
Coach: Anna Haley (first season)
2013 results: 7-27; lost to McCutcheon 3-0 in sectional
Key returnees: Madison Flanagan, sr., DS (504 digs, 39 aces); Emily Engler, sr., S/DS; Alexa Lindquist, sr., MB/Opp.; Abney Trout, so., OH
Others to watch: Samantha Preston, so., OH; Lexi Randolph, so, MB; Aris Haskins, so., MB; Viviana Carrillo, jr., OH; Emma Balensiefer, jr., S; Danielle Russell, sr., DS; Piper Stamper, jr., Opp.
Outlook: The Bronchos are looking for a fresh start. Joining a new conference and hiring a new coach are a good start in that direction. There’s a certain amount of optimism for a team that struggled to a winless run in its final season of the Hoosier Crossroads Conference. Haley already has seen that didn’t sit well with the returnees, who are dedicated to improvement.
Coach: Sara Sutter (14-20 in second season)
2013 results: 14-20; defeated Harrison 3-1 to win sectional; lost to Carmel 3-0 in regional
Key returnees: Katee Kurtz, sr., OH (181 kills, 268 digs, 32 aces); Jordan Foster, sr., S (516 assists, 35 aces); Payton Taylor, sr., DS (441 digs, 27 aces); Payton Hiday, sr., DS; Sydney Tracer, sr., S/Opp (234 kills, 432 assists, 29 aces, 43 blocks); Dailey Vanderkolk, sr., MB (32 blocks); Kiana Fields, jr., MB (161 kills, 70 blocks); Alexis Humphrey, jr., Opp.; Jade Humphrey, so., OH (128 kills, 230 digs)
Others to watch: Adrienne Sowers, so., MB; Carly Schneider, jr., Opp.; Mariah Collins, sr., DS; Grace Balensiefer, fr., S
Outlook: With seven returning seniors, including five who were starters, Sutter hopes the momentum from a sectional title carries right into 2014. She’s already seen a drive to be more aggressive at the net from a more confident bunch that will be among those challenging for the North Central Conference title. Versatility also will be an advantage, with multiple hitters capable of putting the ball away.
West Lafayette Red Devils
Coach: Chad Marshall (93-38 in fifth season)
2013 results: 22-11; defeated Northwestern 3-1 to win sectional; lost to Mishawaka Marian 3-0 in regional
Key returnees: Sophie Shinn, sr., OH (380 kills, 378 digs, 50 aces); Katie Shively, sr., L (313 digs, 28 aces); Meg Szymanski, so., Opp.; Devin Hainje, sr., S (75 aces, 300 digs); Alex Deryn, so., MH (32 blocks); Tess DeBruyn, jr., MH (23 blocks); Lydia Baker, jr., OH
Others to watch: Emily Brose, fr., DS; Gabi Truitt, jr., DS; Teagan Parker, fr., OH
Outlook: Two seniors are entering their fourth year on the varsity and the other is in her third, making leadership an essential element for the Red Devils. West Side always will be a defense-first squad under Marshall’s guidance, but a more balanced offense could make this team stronger as a whole.
Around the area
Seven seniors make up a varsity roster for second-year Attica coach Jillian Harrison, whose squad will be led by athletic setter Kara Harmeson, outside hitter Chloe Evans, defensive specialist Renae Orem and middle hitter Olivia Nunnally.
Only one graduation departure leaves Benton Central hoping for experience and hard work to pay off. Towering Kaylan Coffman is back after batting down 76 kill attempts last season and All-Hoosier Conference setter Ally Best (355 assists, 65 aces) also returns, along with a strong senior contingent that also includes Indiana Elite All-Star Rachel Payne (451 digs) at libero.
The stellar freshman class for Carroll from a year ago is now a more confident bunch of sophomores, led by middle Lauren Worl (218 kills, 58 aces) and record-breaking setter Elizabeth Eurit (613 assists, 79 aces). Junior libero Liby Eller (455 digs) also returns.
Former Harrison standout Sami Vierk takes over a Clinton Prairie program that was not too long ago considered one of the best programs in the state regardless of size. The Gophers return talented senior outside hitter Jade Mulvaney, as well as blocks leader Kayleigh Pletch, assists leader Kali Denham and all-conference member Mallorie Humrickhouse.
Covington found success in Jennifer Sutherlin’s first season as head coach, going 17-9 and 6-1 in the Wabash River Conference. Three All-WRC selections are back, led by junior Brooke Ahrens (260 kills, 158 assists, 62 aces) and senior libero Kendra Wallace (444 digs, 45 aces).
In a year of much change within the Delphi athletic department, the Oracle volleyball program hired Amie Gleason as coach. Junior Myka Roth led the team in blocks and setter Morgan Crowel is also one of five returnees.
Team MVP, All-Bi-County and All-WRC honorable mention choice Maggie Fishero looks to improve on a strong freshman season for Fountain Central, as do classmates Macee Williams and Kyla Keeling, who are part of a seven-player sophomore class that saw varsity time immediately a year ago.
A young Frankfort team has six letter winners back, but none who are seniors. Tania Olivas led the Hot Dogs in blocking and assists as a sophomore last season.
Though the group that led Frontier to consecutive Class A Final Four appearances was gone last year, the Falcons still won a third straight sectional. Many of those contributors are back, including senior middle Shelbi Perry and juniors Emma DeWitt and Kylee Putt, who all earned All-White County nods.
North Montgomery coach Jodi Webster entered Tuesday’s season opener one win shy of 200 in her 10 seasons with the Chargers. Senior Brook Karle will spend her third season in the libero uniform after pulling up 584 digs last year. Karle is one of six returnees who are all upperclassmen, giving the Chargers’ staff high expectations for 2014.
Veteran coach Teresa McIntire’s retirement doesn’t change the lofty expectations for North White. New Vikings coach Kelly Dickensheets inherits a team that was 25-9, including 6-1 in the Midwest Conference. A more experienced Hannah Ball and Audrey Minix return to mix with a veteran team led by senior Alex Ruemler.
Rossville built a winning tradition in recent years and looks to continue that trend under new coach Rochelle Fakes. With seniors Emily Martin, Danielle Memmer, Mattie McGill, Samantha Brenneman and McKenna Hufford back, along with two returning juniors, the Hornets’ first sectional title since 2004 could be within reach.
Seeger lost six starters and nine seniors overall to graduation. First-year Patriots coach Kelli Taylor begins the rebuilding project by utilizing impact makers Alana Pigman, Hannah Gustus, Abby Baker and Courtney White.
It was only one 18-14 season, but it was a monumental leap in the right direction for South Newton, which has 11 juniors and seniors back. Senior middle Morgan Richards (244 kills, 30 blocks) and senior setter Darian Hoaks (677 assists, 45 aces) were All-Midwest Conference selections and junior outside hitter Logan Glassburn (183 kills) was honorable mention All-WRC.
A young and inexperienced lineup takes the court for Tri-County this year looking to overcome initial growing pains with the help of returning seniors Sarah Bahler (39 aces) and Leandra Bahler (432 digs), along with junior Chloe Bahler (93 digs).
It will be tough for many teams to match up physically at the net with senior Laurhen Pickett of Twin Lakes. Pickett joins setter Bree Baldini, middle Destiney Snowberger and defensive specialist Caitlin White in a four-senior group of returning letter winners from a 15-18 team.
— Compiled by Sam Kingemail@example.com