If you look at a Harford County map, it will tell you that Bel Air and C. Milton Wright high schools are only a few miles apart. In girls volleyball talent, though, they are even closer than that.
The Mustangs, 14-0 in the county last year, return much of their talent. Bel Air returns even more, and the two should again fight it out for bragging rights in Harford County.
C. Milton Wright graduated four seniors, including Megan Hube, who made The Sun's all-county team last season. Still, seniors Hayley North and Elizabeth Anderson return to lead a talented squad.
If the Mustangs have a weakness, it could be their inexperience.
Bel Air, which finished 12-5 and lost to Northern-Calvert in the Class 3A state semifinals last year, return five players from last season. Two of the five, senior setter Nadia Mohandeffi, and junior hitter Megan Arnold, were starters last year.
Fallston will have a veteran group back, but most of the players lack game experience.
At Aberdeen, most of the team returns. Martha Shockey takes over as coach, and she is very pleased with what she has seen so far.
Whereas the Eagles will be building, this will Edgewood's year to start over. The Rams lost seven of their nine players from last year, with only seniors Kristen Nance and Jen Elmer, both hitters, returning.
Optimism is the key word at Havre de Grace. The Warriors have a good nucleus of juniors and several players from an 11-3 JV to build upon.
It will be a rebuilding year at Harford Tech, where second-year coach Angie Wabnum returns only one starter in senior Sandra Heitzer.
Allison Carr moves from the boys program to take over the girls at Joppatowne, and she'll try to install a 6-2 offense. The Mariners, led by setters Megan Shanholtz, a sophomore, and Cheryl Lewis, a senior, could have their hands full with the new system.
At North Harford, the Hawks return only one senior from last season's 8-7 team.
After last season's 3-10 record, John Carroll will look to develop some consistency.
Harford Christian returns only three regulars from last season - Kim Grant, Heather Schafer and Diane Loomis, all senior hitters.
In the boys league, Fallston narrowly beat Bel Air for the title last season. Both these teams should be strong again, along with John Carroll.
Fallston, 14-1 last season, only has one spot open in its lineup. Seniors Luke Simon, a setter, and Justin Conley, a hitter, again figure to lead the team.
Bel Air, also 14-1 last year, returns all its starters. Most have at least two years experience together, and some have three. The team is led by seniors Chad Restrick, a setter, and hitters Mike Kimball and Justin Reigle.
At John Carroll, coach Herb Simon says he has the tallest team he's had, and is cautiously optimistic he can improve upon last season's 9-6 record. The junior-dominated team will be led by junior hitters Matt Muir (6-4), and Tim Beck (6-5). Freshman Corey Turner (6-4) has been a pleasent surprise. Kate Corea takes over the program at Harford Tech, and the Cobras should do well. The team returns five seniors, led by hitter Jeff Lagnese and setter Chris Yeagle.
Aberdeen, which had a dismal season last year, is looking to improve. Seniors Calvin Kelly, a hitter, and Crispin Imasa, a setter, are the only returnees. Things are looking up at Joppatowne, where new coach Tom Kocher returns three senior starters in Chip Corbin, a setter, and hitters Frank Rogers and Paul Burk.
At Havre de Grace, the team is taking small steps toward improvement after a 4-11 season.