In Baltimore County and city volleyball, the powers are the same, only the leagues and regions have changed.
Catonsville, which dominated the county's 3A-4A league with Perry Hall, drops to the highly competitive Class 2A this year, joining Baltimore County champion Loch Raven and regional finalist Towson.
All three schools were involved in regional playoffs last year, and they have new players who could lead them back to postseason play this season.
Class 3A state semifinalist Perry Hall lost on-court leaders Lori Johnson, Patti Ysern and Tracy Morgan to graduation. Seniors Jamie Krauk, Jaime Jansen and Tricia Daubert are expected to step up and lead the offense.
"I think we're going to be strong in the county, but we're going to have to be exceptionally strong to repeat what we did last year," said Perry Hall coach Pam Wilt.
Perry Hall should be the team to beat in Class 4A and possibly could meet city power Western in the regionals this year. Last year, the Gators beat the Doves in the regional finals.
Because of graduation, many of the county schools are going to be filling out their lineups from their junior varsity teams.
Towson, where the junior varsity finished 12-0 last year, had 12 members of that team move up to varsity. Catonsville lost its top setter, Gabrielle Clark, and Baltimore Sun Player of the Year Karla Uttenreither. Regional semifinalist Loch Raven lost 10 players, and regional champion Owings Mills lost its top server, Kathrin Koenig.
With Catonsville moving out of the Class 3A North region, Dundalk and Randallstown could emerge with a potential regional berth this year and face Harford County powers C. Milton Wright or Bel Air in the semifinals. In another move, Patapsco takes a step up to 3A.
Owings Mills, which made its way through the regionals to the state semifinals, returns with an experienced, six-senior squad and will challenge 1A-2A teams as well. The Class 1A Golden Eagles are led offensively by senior hitter Jen Ziomek, who averaged 3.5 kills per game last year.
Western, City and Poly will be the top teams in the City-Wide League. Western has one of the tallest teams in the area, with three players who are at least 6 feet tall.
City and Poly are in the Class 3A East region, and they could meet traditional powers Broadneck and Centennial in the regional playoffs.
In the Catholic League, Seton Keough will look to defend its title, but will face competition from Mercy and Anne Arundel County's Spalding.
In the inaugural year of the Association of Independent Schools League, Bryn Mawr and Oldfields will vie for first place.