Girls volleyball: Scouting Lake County
Coach: Greg Bruns (first season)
Returning players: Kat Barr (Sr. MB), Brianne Vettese (Sr. L), Skylar Loos (Sr. L), Kennedy Moll (Sr. S), Cenie Frieson (So. S).
Newcomers: Amanda Rowe (OH), Grace Weber (MB), Grace Lockefeer (RS), Breanne Kramer (OH), Sally Bessette (RS), Emmy Faber (DS), Morgan Bennett (OH)
Season outlook: Jamie Atkinson has stepped down as head coach and has been replaced by Greg Bruns, who's coached on the high school level for 14 seasons and club for 15 seasons. The Sequoits' top returning player is senior middle Kat Barr, who's a two-time all-conference selection. "We lost nine seniors, but we have a lot that are moving up and taking charge," Bruns said.
Coach: Dave Pazely (seventh season)
Last season: 27-12
Returning players: Erin Taylor (Sr. OH), Alyssa Dellert (Jr. RS), Alyssa Donton (Sr. S), Madi Meyer (Sr. DS), Jolina Moisio (Jr. DS), Eileen Tarcha (So. DS)
Newcomers: Maya Mainzer (So. MH), Kaitlyn Czarnetzki (So. OH), Amber Dorn (Jr. OH)
Season outlook: The Corsairs are coming off a 27-win season but graduate a strong senior class that included Grace Butler (Central Michigan), Lauren Nelson (Seton Hall), Sarah Nelson and Claire Queenan. Senior outside Erin Taylor returns for her third varsity season. Junior right side Alyssa Dellert also showed last season that she can put the ball away at the net. Senior Alyssa Donton takes over the setting duties from Butler. "The core of our back row is returning again this year and we will be strong defensively because of that," coach Dave Pazely said. "This year's team will be an interesting puzzle to piece together, which may take some time and experimentation, but has the potential for another winning season. There's a good energy within the team and I believe the leadership among the players has set the tone for success."
Coach: Michele Keenan (second year)
Last season: 21-14
Returning players: Emily Bringer (Sr. OH), Mallory Harrity (Sr. MB), Kayla Dabrowski (Sr. OPP), Katy Fisherkeller (Sr. L), Emma Olszowka (Sr. S), Megan Mitchell (Jr. OH)
Newcomers: Katy McNulty (Sr. OH), Amanda Reynolds (Jr. MB), Bailey Moran (Jr. OH), Anelsie Johnson (Fr. OH), Jazzlyn Linbo (Fr. MB)
Season outlook: The Bulldogs graduated three key players in hitter Hannah Johnson (South Alabama), setter Kate Kiser (Bowdoin) and middle blocker Ashley Freund (Carthage). Led by Emily Bringer, an all-conference selection last year, the Bulldogs are looking to build on the success of last season. "We have a good mix of experience, youth and height on this year's team," coach Michele Keenan said. "The added youth brings the height and competition to the court. We have more depth this year, and it shows in the competitiveness of our practices and for the coveted starting positions. Look for our block to be big and our hitters to be smart."
Coach: Jason Janczak (11th season)
Last season: 19-17
Returning players: Lauren LaBeck (Sr. S), Michelle Maraist (Sr. OH), Lizzie Twardock (Sr. RS), Cassidy Beshel (Jr. MB), Amber Moser (Jr. OH), Abby Marassa (Jr. L), Elisa Koshy (Jr. OPP/S)
Newcomers: Kate Bullman (So. MB), Brittney Nahlou (Sr. DS), Maya Schnitzler (Jr. DS)
Season outlook: The Rams won 19 matches and earned a share of the Northern Lake County Conference championship last season. But a regional-semifinal loss to Wheeling left the Rams hungry for strong showing this year. Senior setter Lauren LaBeck, who recently committed to the University of South Florida, is back to run the offense. She and junior middle Cassidy Beshel were both all-conference selections last year. "We return several starters from last year's conference championship team and add some height on offense and speed on defense," coach Jason Janczak said. "We have height across the front row and have been working hard in developing and improving the speed of our offense centered around Lauren LaBeck. We still have some work to do get firing on all cylinders but we are off to a good start, and I have been impressed with the dedication and effort the girls have put into each practice to get us to that next level."
Coach: Jim Sarver (fourth season)
Last season: 11-23
Returning players: Abby Hamilton (Sr. MB), Abby Holm (Sr. OH), Erin McBriarty (Sr. S), Taylor Ebersohl (Jr. MB), Molly Rutkowski (Sr. OH), Sarah Rauch (Sr. OH), Shayla Hertzke (Sr. OH)
Newcomers: Alyssa Gerzel (Fr. OH), Jessica Pozezinski (Fr. OH), Abby Cunningham (So. S), Lindsey Diep (So. S), Brittany Grim (Jr. MB), Lexi Baker (So. DS)
Season outlook: The Knights graduated six seniors, including all-conference players Taylor Johnston and Abby Fish. They're looking to improve on last season's 11-win campaign (2-5 NLCC). The Knights look to "play a faster, fun style of volleyball," said coach Jim Sarver, adding his team has a "great combination of youth and experience."
Coach: Jenni Floren (first season)
Returning players: Katie Billetdeaux (Sr. MB), Erica Grant (Sr. OH), Rachel Orpano (Sr. S), Keelan Bell (Jr. MB), Kelly Zeason (Sr. RS), Alyssa Bombicino (Sr. L)
Newcomers: Devin Bell (Fr. S), Alli Ulrich (Jr. DS)
Season outlook: First-year head coach Jenni Floren inherits a group that graduated McKenna Lahr and Kaylee Lebron but returns five starters, including senior middle Katie Billetdeaux and senior outside Erica Grant, both of whom made the all-conference team last year. The five returning starters bring "leadership, experience and a high level of competition and prior success," Floren said. "The team has worked very hard in the off-season to prepare for a competitive season. We will be competitive each match and we look forward to going far in the state tournament, yet focusing on one game at a time and getting better every day in practice." Floren's roster features 6 seniors, 6 juniors, 1 sophomore and 1 freshman.
Coach: Rachel Wiatrowski (third season)
Last season: 23-11
Returning players: Kyle Dykraaf, Katie Guy, McKenna Zobel
Newcomers: Claudia Kieda, Jocelyn Lang
Season outlook: The Bears went 23-11 last season but graduated Hannah Sweetwood, Lexi Gora and Brianna Reitsch.
Coach: Greg Loika (ninth season)
Last season: 27-12
Returning players: Anna Valente (Sr. OH), Madison O'Brien (Sr. OH, Morgan DeGregor (Sr. L)
Newcomers: Peyton O'Brien (Fr. S/RS), Kailey Christianson (Sr. S), Jenna Silverman (Sr. DS), Amanda Reinhart (Jr. MB), Maggie Evers (Jr. MB), Cat Hebbeln (Jr. DS), Jenn Formica (Jr. DS), Hope Moody (So. OH), Maggie Spaulding (Jr. RS)
Season outlook: Having to replace graduated players such as Morgan O'Brien (Illinois), Haley Stevenson (Emory), Anna Lillydahl and Caroline Frea from last year's 27-12 team means the Wildcats will be counting on two key ingredients. "Youth and enthusiasm are the order of the day," coach Greg Loika said. The Wildcats return Anna Valente, Madison O'Brien and Morgan DeGregor. They welcome in two sophomores and freshman setter Peyton O'Brien to the varsity level. They also have five juniors. Sisters Madison and Peyton O'Brien are not related to Morgan O'Brien. "Early on, our focus is offensive efficiency and leaning on a stout defense led by DeGregor to keep rallies alive," Loika said.
Coach: George Dressen Jr. (13th season)
Last season: 12-25
Returning players: Faith Krabbe (So. S), Taylor Heath (Jr. MB), Diane Orozco (Sr. L)
Newcomers: Alexis Naddy (So. OH), Isabella Cartland (Jr. OH), Claudia Wilcox (Jr. S), Gillian Paul (Jr. RS), Thea Vogt (Jr. MB)
Season outlook: The Mustangs have only one senior in libero Diane Orozco. "They are fast and full of energy," coach George Dressen Jr. said of his Mustangs. "No telling what we may be able to accomplish this season."
Coach: Kristin Lilla (sixth season)
Last season: 15-20
Returning players: Evie Johnson (S/OH), Dana Devera (OH), Fatima Marquez (MH), Roxanna Rodriguez (S), Emily Lipp (DS), Alexis Cordova (DS)
Newcomers: Sam Nicoline (MH), Giselle Raygoza (S), Suzy Enriquez (DS), Katie Knill (RS), Anna Vazquez (Fr. DS), Leslie Lopez (Fr. RS)
Season outlook: The Panthers are looking to their youth for "athleticism and spunk," while relying on their veterans to set the standard and lead the way, said coach Kristin Lilla, whose team went 15-20 last season. Their returning players include sophomore all-conference hitter Dana Devera. The Panthers lost their setter, both middle hitters and an outside hitter. "The 12 girls we have suiting up this year, however, we are really excited about," Lilla said. "We've worked hard all summer stressing speed and agility, almost as much as volleyball skill. Our athleticism should help us bridge some of the skill gap of teams we play throughout the season that are stacked with future college players. We are really excited about the youngsters who will be playing up and about our returning players. It's a nice mix of skill, savvy and run-through-the-wall agility. I think we have built a reputation of never giving up, but I think this year you'll see us more successful at finishing out some longer volleys. We look to make things happen on the court instead of waiting for the other team to make an error."
Coach: Tim Crow (16th season)
Last season: 33-8
Returning players: Sophie Sorenson (Jr. OH), Alex Cuc (Sr. S), Hope Havenhill (Sr. RS), Chloe Robinson (Sr. L), Sara Bufe (Sr. MH)
Newcomers: Lily Cozzi (So. OH), Anne Armgardt (Jr. MH), Grace Tully (So. S)
Season outlook: The Patriots placed third in the Class 4A state tournament last season, winning 33 matches. They graduated Daily Herald Lake County All-Area team captain Jori Radtke (Northern Illinois) but return plenty of talent. Included are junior outside Sophie Sorenson (308 kills last season), senior setter Alex Cuc (902 assists), 6-2 senior right side Hope Havenhill (133 kills, 62 solo blocks), who's committed to Rochester, senior libero Chloe Robinson (286 digs) and 6-foot middle Sara Bufe (54 solo blocks). The team boasts 10 seniors and has young talent, as well. Look for newcomers Lily Cozzi and Anne Armgardt to make an immediate impact. "I love what I see from my younger kids," coach Tim Crow said. Stevenson will be tested early with 13 matches in 14 days. "Last season was amazing but the girls are eager to write their own story this season," Crow said. "We are focused on improving and playing our best volleyball at the end of the season."
Coach: Arian Colton (first season)
Returning players: Taylor Harte (Sr. OH), Aleen Lim (Sr. L), Ally Chase (Jr. MH), Carolynn Orbell (Sr. S)
Newcomers: Maddie Bowen (So. S), Emma Ginster (So. OH), Marta Glyvka (So. MH)
Season outlook: Former Libertyville star Arian (Adams) Colton takes over the Cougars. "Taylor (Harte) has shown tremendous leadership both on and off the court," Colton said. "She is very quick and we will look for her to lead the way for our offense. All three of our sophomores have worked very hard and earned the chance to make a massive impact on Vernon Hills volleyball."
Coach: Julie Filippo (15th season)
Last season: 20-14
Returning players: Dana Lundtveit, Ella White, Katie Corr, Allison Maan de Kok, Abby Berkowicz, Kayla Klemz
Newcomers: Hannah Barbosa, Amanda Howe, Olivia Schostok, Jessica Weinberg
Season outlook: The Blue Devils posted a 20-win season a year ago but graduated Natalie McNally, Claire Lundtveit and Marissa Kuula. "We are looking for improvement match to match," coach Julie Filippo said. "This is a competitive group and they know success does not come without hard work. They have bought in and will work for success."
Coach: Alison Williams (sixth season)
Last season: 15-21
Returning players: Jane Sakowicz (Sr. L), Nicole Carazas (Sr. OH), Lauren Sexton (Jr. OH), Sam Sasin (Sr. MB), Raquel Acosta (Jr. DS), Summer Olsen (Sr. S)
Newcomers: Riley Aldrich (So. S), Savannah Johnson (So. S), Carlie Krachtus (Jr. OPP), Erika Kraml (Jr. MB), Nicole Callahan (So. OH/OPP)
Season outlook: The Bulldogs went 15-21 last year but return several veterans, including all-conference players Jane Sakowicz (senior libero) and Nicole Carazas (senior hitter). "We're returning multiple starters from last year's team and are adding in a strong core of younger players," coach Alison Williams said. "The team is constantly improving and working hard. Looking forward to being competitive in the NLCC and preparing for the postseason."