1. River Hill
Coach: Lynn Paynter
Last season: 17-2, No. 2. Postseason: Lost in Class 3A state championship.
Outlook: The Hawks return a senior-dominated lineup led by first-team All-Metro selection Megan Rosburg and Sara Okey. Their ability to adjust to new coach Paynter will be a key.
Coach: Larry Schofield
Last season: 17-1, No. 4. Postseason: Lost in Class 3A East regional championship.
Outlook: The Eagles just continue to reload behind Howard County Player of the Year Liz Brown and Sam Brostrom, both first-team All-Metro performers. Sophomore Trish Mochapetris will be a force in the middle.
3. Mount de Sales
Coach: Monica Owensby
Last season: 19-1, No. 1. Postseason: Lost in MD/DC Private Schools championship.
Outlook: The defending IAAM A Conference champions will be the clear favorites in the league again, and will rely on hitter Hannah Schmidt for a good chunk of their offense. How fast the team adjusts to the loss of Katy Buck, The Sun's 2009 Player of the Year, will be key.
Coach: Ali Winaker
Last season: 17-2, No. 8. Postseason: Lost in Class 2A East regional championship.
Outlook: The Cougars have a new coach in Winaker, and appear to be the clear favorite in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference. If they can keep everyone healthy, junior Rachel Holehouse and senior Shannon Webb should take this team deep into the playoffs.
Coach: Emily Berman
Last season: 17-1, No. 5. Postseason: Lost in state Class 3A semifinals.
Outlook: The determination of this young team allowed them to overachieve last year under Berman, The Sun's All-Metro Coach of the Year. Juniors Lauren Bosse and Kelly Lacy will be counted on to make up for the loss of Kat Lincalis, a first-team All-Metro setter from last season.
Coach: Ashley Lindsey
Last season: 10-5, unranked. Postseason: Lost in Class 4A East regional quarterfinals.
Outlook: Things have changed a little in Anne Arundel County, and the Wildcats should be the team to beat. Senior Ashlyn Tapley and sophomore Shannon Kelley will provide most of the power for this young team.
7. Seton Keough
Coach: S.J. Greenway
Last season: 8-7, unranked. Postseason: Lost in IAAM A Conference championship.
Outlook: Greenway has made it his goal to upgrade the program, and it could pay off this year. The leadership of Adama Aja and Liz Brown could take the Gators to the A Conference title if Mount de Sales stumbles.
Coach: Becky Trumbo
Last season: 12-4, unranked. Postseason: Lost in Class 2A West regional semifinal.
Outlook: One of the surprise teams in the area last season, Trumbo returns five starters from a solid team that features Allie Reed, a second-team All-Metro performer at setter. If the younger players on the team mature quickly, this team could make some noise in the postseason.
9. South River
Coach: Mo Carter
Last season: 12-4, unranked. Postseason: Lost in Class 4A East regional semifinal.
Outlook: The team returns nine seniors, led by libero Sami Morris, a second-team All-Metro performer last year. Hitter Kristin Cooper and setter Emily Cobb highlight a talented group that will push Arundel this season.
10. Mount Hebron
Coach: Mike Moynihan
Last season: 9-6. No. 12. Postseason: Lost in Class 3A regional first round.
Outlook: Nine players return from last year's team, led by senior setter Maddy Birus. The Vikings have a tremendous amount of potential, and turning that into victories in the tough Howard County League will be the challenge.
11. Marriotts Ridge
Coach: Amanda Olsen
Last season: 11-7, No. 11. Postseason: Lost in Class 2A state semifinals.
Outlook: After making their first trip to College Park and the state semifinals last year, the Mustangs will try and build on last year's success. Senior Meredith Krzys, a three-year starter, will be called upon to provide leadership if the team is to make a return trip to the state tournament.
12. Severna Park
Coach: Dave Verostic
Last season: 15-3, No. 7. Postseason: Lost in Class 4A East regional championship.
Outlook: The Falcons took a major blow when Sam Henke, a second-team All-Metro performer, was lost for the year after shoulder surgery. Verostic, another new coach, will take over an excellent program that features senior returnees Carli Converse and Erin Bell.
Coach: Scott Graf
Last season: 17-2, No. 3. Postseason: Won Class 4A state championship.
Outlook: This looks to be a rebuilding year for the three-time consecutive Class 4A champs. The Bruins, who were hit hard by graduation, will rely on Alli Graf and Adrienne Gebele for most of their offense.
Coach: Brian Trumbo
Last season: 9-7, unranked. Postseason: Lost in Class 2A West regional quarterfinal.
Outlook: The Lions suffered a down year last season after winning the Class 2A crown in 2008. Trumbo said he is still looking for a good setter, but hitters Kelsey Middleton and Kelly McCormick make Liberty a solid team and a contender this season.
Coach: Cary Lyon
Last season: 10-6, unranked. Postseason: Lost in Class 4A regional semifinal.
Outlook: The Lions have a quality group of starters returning, but depth could be a problem if one gets hurt. Sophomore hitter Jessica Starr and junior setter Taylor Roberts will lead the team, which should push Towson for the Baltimore County title.
OTHERS CONSIDERED: Archbishop Spalding (12-6), Catonsville (13-3), Francis Scott Key (18-1), McDonogh (10-9), Poly (16-2), Reservoir (13-4).Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun