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2013 volleyball Top 15 preseason poll

1. Arundel

Coach: Ashley Yuscavage

Last season: 19-1, ranked No. 1

Postseason: Class 4A state runner-up

Outlook: The Wildcats lost a lot after last season, but the Orr twins — Allie and Brittany — lead a good group of returning players. Anne Arundel County looks more balanced this year, but the two-time defending state finalists look to continue as the best of the bunch.

2. St. Paul’s

Coach: Kelli Wilkinson

Last season: 13-5, unranked

Postseason: IAAM A Conference semifinalist

Outlook: Simply put, the Gators are loaded this season. Wilkinson returns her entire team and adds transfer Bella Pivec (Notre Dame Prep). With its talent, depth and experience, St. Paul’s enters the year as the clear favorite in the IAAM A Conference.

3. Howard

Coach: Grant Scott

Last season: 9-8, No. 13

Postseason: Class 3A East regional finalist

Outlook: The Lions got stronger at the end of last season, and there’s a lot of upside to this team. Scott, who lost only one senior from last year, said the squad is very motivated and has great senior leadership. Howard moves to Class 4A this season.

4. Centennial

Coach: Larry Schofield

Last season: 18-1, No. 3

Postseason: Class 3A state runner-up

Outlook: The Eagles lost All-Metro Player of the Year Trisha Mockapetris (Jacksonville State) to graduation, but Centennial is deep and always finds a way to reload. If Schofield can replace the two departed starters, another trip to College Park for the state playoffs is likely.

5. Dulaney

Coach: Cary Lyon

Last season: 17-1, No. 4

Postseason: Class 4A North regional finalist

Outlook: The Lions return a deep, talented team as they enter the season as the favorite to defend their Baltimore County championship. Lyon said this could be his strongest team ever as Dulaney seeks its third state title in school history (1999, 2000).

6. Severna Park

Coach: Tim Dunbar

Last season: 14-4, No. 6

Postseason: Class 4A East regional finalist

Outlook: Three starters return for the Falcons, who pushed Arundel in the regional championship last year. Dunbar has moved some of his players to different positions, so the team’s success depends on how quickly they adjust.

7. Notre Dame Prep

Coach: Jim Isphording

Last season: 7-5, unranked

Postseason: IAAM A Conference quarterfinalist

Outlook: Isphording said the Blazers have been building toward this year, and their goal is to push favorite St. Paul’s in the IAAM A Conference. With 13 club players on the team, experience and depth will be an asset for Notre Dame Prep.

8. Bel Air

Coach: Walter Bondarenko

Last season: 18-1, No. 5

Postseason: Class 3A state semifinalist

Outlook: Bondarenko replaces Tim Markland, who was the All-Metro Coach of the Year last season. With seven returning seniors, including Amanda Rodriguez and Celeste Roland, the Bobcats should contend for a spot in the Class 3A state playoffs again this year.

9. Mount Hebron

Coach: Mike Moynihan

Last season: 10-5, unranked

Postseason: Class 3A East regional quarterfinalist

Outlook: With most of the roster returning from a team that underperformed last season, the Vikings should have speed and play well defensively. With a lot of potential, they’ll just need to put it all together on the court.

10. Broadneck

Coach: Dave Verostic

Last season: 10-5, No. 7

Postseason: Class 4A East regional semifinalist

Outlook: Taking over a historically good program, Verostic said he has pushed his team in the offseason because he believes in them. While the Bruins have a young squad, they’re hungry and will play tough defense.

11. South River

Coach: Mo Carter

Last season: 11-5, No. 10

Postseason: Class 4A East regional semifinalist

Outlook: Typically one of the top four teams in Anne Arundel County, along with Arundel, Broadneck and Severna Park, this could be the year they finally take a step above the others. The team returns nine seniors, so experience will be a huge positive.

12. River Hill

Coach: Lynn Paynter

Last season: 12-4, No. 15

Postseason: Class 3A East regional semifinalist

Outlook: After an up-and-down year in 2012, the Hawks should be very competitive again in the tough Howard County league. Paynter said this year’s roster gives her more options on the court, and she also likes the teamwork and communication.

13. Hereford

Coach: Dave Schreiner

Last season: 12-4, unranked

Postseason: Class 3A North regional semifinalist

Outlook: After making strides last season, the Bulls will look to build on that momentum. With a move to Class 2A this year due to the state’s reclassification, Hereford could make a deep run into the state playoffs.

14. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Scott Rombach

Last season: 13-5, No. 12

Postseason: IAAM A Conference runner-up

Outlook: The Cavaliers graduated a lot of players from last year’s team, but Rombach is confident his young lineup can make some noise in the tough IAAM A Conference. The team is also smaller than last season, and it will need to find an offense quickly to compete.

15. Liberty

Coach: Michael Rainbow

Last season: 8-15, unranked

Postseason: Class 2A West regional first round

Outlook: The Lions look to be the best of a balanced group in Carroll County. The team returns a majority of its players, and most of them starred at the club level. Rainbow said this group has tremendous talent and can be dominant at the net.

Others considered: Atholton (12-5, No. 14), Century (9-7, unranked), C.Milton Wright (11-7, unranked), Francis Scott Key (14-3, No. 9), Mercy (13-5, unranked), Poly (14-3, unranked), Seton Keough (18-0, No. 2)

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