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High School Sports

Volleyball preseason poll for fall 2014

1. St. Paul's

Coach: Aisha Mason

Last season: 15-4, No. 7

Postseason: IAAM A Conference champion

Outlook: Mason takes over a team that got better as the season went on last year and peaked at the right time to win the IAAM title. Jillian Randolph, one of the best players in the area, returns after missing most of last season with a knee injury and will lead a great supporting cast. The Gators are the clear favorites for the IAAM A Conference title.

2. Broadneck

Coach: Dave Verostic

Last season: 14-3, No. 8

Postseason: Class 4A East semifinals

Outlook: The Bruins have one of the best back lines in the area with Jordyn Beans and Katie Byrne, and most of the core of the defense returns. Broadneck graduated five seniors, but a lot of quality remains. The team will be tested early with games against Sherwood (Montgomery County), Centennial and South River in the first two weeks.

3. Dulaney

Coach: Cary Lyon

Last season: 20-0, No. 1

Postseason: Class 4A state champion

Outlook: The Lions lost their top player from last year, Darla Svoboda, and her sister, Mallory, will look to pick up the offensive slack. Milan Amos again will be a force at the net for the Lions. This team is loaded with talented players and should dominate in Baltimore County.

4. Glenelg

Coach: Jason Monjes

Last season: 14-3, No. 4

Postseason: Class 3A state semifinals

Outlook: Replacing All-Metro performer Morgan Perry will be a challenge, but Monjes has a good crew returning and it should be a small step above the competition in a balanced Howard County race this season. The Girard sisters, Rachael and Sarah, will be counted on to provide leadership

5. Severna Park

Coach: Tim Dunbar

Last season: 18-3, No. 2

Postseason: Class 4A state final

Outlook: The Falcons came out of a brutal Anne Arundel County league race and charged to the state final last year before coming up short in the championship. The team lost four starters from last year, but there is plenty of talent to make up for the departures. Sophie Hoekstra will lead a talented group of returnees, and Severna Park's offense will push Broadneck this season.

6. Notre Dame Prep

Coach: Jim Isphording

Last season: 13-1, No. 10

Postseason: IAAM A Conference semifinals

Outlook: The Blazers entered the IAAM tournament last year undefeated before stumbling against Mount de Sales. Setter Anna Carmen and outside hitter Francesca Zink will provide leadership for a team that returns 10 players from last year. If anyone makes a run at St. Paul's this season, it will be the Blazers.

7. South River

Coach: Maureen Carter

Last season: 14-3, No. 3

Postseason: Class 4A East final

Outlook: Carter, the All-Metro Coach of the Year last season, led a team that surprised many last year. Even though the Seahawks team lost nine seniors, including star setter Rachel Pierson, it returns the backbone of a good junior varsity. The Seahawks will be led by Madison Carter, the coach's daughter.

8. Liberty

Coach: Mike Rainbow

Last season: 11-3, unranked

Postseason: Class 2A West semifinals

Outlook: The Lions lost only two players from last season, and Rainbow said this team should be better than the 2013 version. Liberty, led by outside hitter Nicole Venturelli, returns a lot of height. Junior libero Kasey Bost will be counted on to lead the defense. Rainbow said he is stressing the mental part of the game, and that emphasis might make the difference for the Lions.

9. Wilde Lake

Coach: Caitlin Williams

Last season: 9-6, unranked

Postseason: Class 3A East quarterfinals

Outlook: The Wildecats are a team that thrived under the radar last year, but that won't be the case this season in highly competitive Howard County. Williams returns all but two players from last year and she says this will be one of the strongest teams the school has had in a while. Junior setter Meghan Morales will captain a talented offense that features four-year varsity outside hitter Kelly Surkovich.

10. Francis Scott Key

Coach: Tim Walsh

Last season: 10-5, unranked

Postseason: Class 2A West first round

Outlook: The Eagles underachieved in the postseason last year, but Walsh is confident that his group of returnees will not let that happen again. The team will be experienced because Walsh is carrying six seniors who played significant minutes. The offense will be led by seniors Braedyn Gallagher, an outside hitter, and Danika Ani, a setter.

11. Mount Hebron

Coach: Mike Moynihan

Last season: 14-4, No. 6

Postseason: Class 3A East final

Outlook: The Vikings said goodbye to eight seniors, but plenty of talent remains. Moynihan said his outside hitters, led by Reeana Richardson, are the strength of the team. He'll have to replace a great defense, however. Mount Hebron's junior varsity won its league last season, and how quickly the younger players mature will play a large role in how the team performs.

12. Centennial

Coach: Mike Bossom

Last season: 9-7, unranked

Postseason: Class 3A East semifinals

Outlook: Bossom, who won eight state titles at Centennial in the 1990s and early 2000s, returns to the site of his former glory. He will have a good nucleus to start with, led by Meghan Kelley. The Eagles had a rare down year last season, but the school always produces tons of talent.

13. Arundel

Coach: Ashley Yuscavage

Last Season: 13-3, No. 9

Post season: Class 4A East semifinals

Outlook: This will be a bit of a rebuilding season for the Wildcats, but Yuscavage, one of the best coaches in the area, still has lots to work with. Setter Emily Durocher returns for her senior year, and will have to be a leader. Yuscavage said the Wildcats are willing to work hard, and should improve as the year goes on.

14. Bel Air

Coach: Dave Marzola

Last Season: 16-4, No. 12

Post season: Class 3A state semifinals

Outlook: Marzola moves over from rival C. Milton Wright, and he inherits a team that made a deep run at the state title last season. Graduated are stalwarts Amanda Rodriguez and Celeste Roland, but there is plenty of talent remaining. Marzola has yet to settle on a setter. Seniors Taylor White and Mariah Thomas will be counted on to provide most of the offense.

15. Hereford

Coach: Dave Schreiner

Last Season: 15-3, No.11

Postseason: Class 2A state semifinals

Outlook: The Bulls lost four talented seniors from last year's team that went to College Park. Luckily for Schreiner, the school had one of the best junior varsity teams in Baltimore County last season. Sophomore Erin Collins will need to be a key piece at the net.

Others considered: Archbishop Spalding (10-9), Catonsville (11-4), Century (9-6), Fallston (12-5), Howard (15-2), Mount de Sales (11-7), Winters Mill (8-8)

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