Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Bishop Dwenger's Madi Ross sets the ball at the SAC preseason tournament at North Side. Ross was named the conference top player a year ago, guiding the Saints to sectional and SAC titles.
Friday, August 10, 2018 1:00 am
5 to watch SEASON PREVIEWS
Elizabeth Wyman | The Journal Gazette
While no area teams made it past regionals in 2017, a number of sectional championships mixed with young, experienced talent sets the table for an unpredictable 2018 volleyball season.
Carroll: The Chargers fell to Noblesville in the regional semifinal last year. After a season in which they went 27-10, the Chargers lost five players to graduation, but provide a number of seniors to fill the void.
Bellmont: The Braves were one of two area schools to make it to the regional championship last season, falling to New Castle in three sets. Only graduating three players, the Braves are returning a veteran squad.
Lakewood Park: As the other area school making it to the regional championship last season, the Panthers fell to Pioneer in three sets. If they want to get back on top they'll have to do it without star server Lilly Kruse, who last year led the state in serving aces with 147.
Dwenger: The Saints fell to New Castle in the regional semifinals last season, but return eight seniors to lead the pack. They're also are coming off an SAC championship.
Blackhawk Christian: The Braves fell to Andrean in the regional semifinals and return three seniors to the roster.
Madi Ross, Dwenger: As a junior, Ross was named the Glass Spike award winner as the conference's best player and aided Dwenger to an SAC and sectional championship. She's committed to playing college volleyball at Oakland University in Michigan.
Rylie Houser, Bellmont: Houser ranked 11th in the state in total assists (1,068) during her junior season.
Josie Sauer, Concordia: The Concordia kill-monster is back for her senior season. As a junior she led the team in kills with 261.
Brooke Smith, Leo: A Louisville recruit, Smith had 247 kills, 103 digs and 30 blocks during her sophomore season.
Maggie Castleman, Heritage: The junior put up 216 kills, 184 digs and 43 aces during her sophomore season. She'll look to lead a team that won 21 games a season ago.
Blackhawk Duo: The Braves' duo of Ally Barkhaus and Julia Nagy are both coming off All-State seasons. Barkhaus was named to the first team her junior year and Nagy was named to the second team as a sophomore.
Back to volleyball: Bellmont senior Grace Hunter is rejoining the volleyball team after taking her junior season off to focus on basketball recruitment. Hunter has committed to Northern Illinois for basketball.
Experienced Angola: After going 11-0 in NECC regular-season play last season, Lloy Ball's team brings back a roster of experience with 11 juniors, all of whom played varsity last season.
All-SAC Saints: Dwenger had nine players last season named to the All-SAC first and second teams, as well as honorable mention. Of those nine, seven return in 2018.
All-Stars: 2017 was the inaugural IHSVCA All-Star match. Leo's Makayla Knoblauch, Bellmont's Tori Miller, Blackhawk's Ally Barkhaus, Churubusco's Rachel Jaquay, Bluffton's Emma Clines, South Adams' Madi Wurster, Carroll's Megan Herr and Grace Filbrun all competed.