2015 Girls Volleyball Capsule Previews


League: Division IV Southern

Head coach: Shantai Hunter, sixth season

2014 record: 9-11 (3-7 Southern, eighth)

Returning starters: Three

Top athletes: MH/OH Crystil Wood (Jr.), S Samantha Spooner (So.)

Outlook: Wood (63 kills, 37 blocks, 22 digs) and Spooner (55 kills, 97 assists, 21 blocks) are two of the top returnees for the Lions, who remain young.

“Each year, we continue to improve and progress,” Hunter said. “We are still a young program, an inexperienced program, but each season we continue to grow.

“My expectations for this season are to continue to improve our way of play, our overall record and coming together as a team. We have lost three key players this season, but I am positive we can rebuild and be successful.”



League: Division I Northwest

Head coach: Jay Renneker, third season

2014 record: 19-18 (7-1 Northwest, first)

Returning letter winners (starters): Nine (five)

Top athletes: OH Hannah Goddard (Sr.), MB Kasey Kershaw (Sr.), OH Sarah Goddard (So.), S Aly Jeeves (So.), MB Sofia Valenzuela (Sr.), OPP Trinity Chen (Jr.), OPP Natalia Pia (Jr.), LIB Alyssa Jeeves (Jr.), OH/MB Taylor Howie (Sr.)

Outlook: Hannah Goddard and Sarah Goddard both were first-team All-Northwest honorees last year and are among nine letter winners who return for the Aggies, who won their first league title last year.

“This year’s squad is taller and more experienced after returning most all major contributors and with six players standing at six feet-plus,” Renneker said. “This team is also more athletic and more skilled than the previous championship year.

“The 2015 season will look to see the Aggies defend their league championship as well as go deep into the playoffs and contend for the region and state titles.”



League: Division IV Southern

Head coach: Kerry Noble, 10th season

2014 record: 9-7 (6-4 Southern, fifth)

Returning letter winners (starters): Four (two)

Top athletes: S Mari Sandoval (Sr.), OH Nagelly Lopez (Sr.), OH Brittny Wilson (Jr.)

Outlook: The Diamondbacks welcome back four letter winners from a team that finished fifth in the Southern League last year.

“We have some raw talent in our upcoming varsity players that needs to be finessed so the girls can come together as a working unit, instead of six individual players on the court,” Noble said.



League: Division I Southwest

Head coach: Ed Van Meetren, 15th season

2014 record: 11-14 (5-3 Southwest, third)

Returning letter winners (starters): Seven (three)

Top athletes: OH Vashti Cunningham (Sr.), OH/MB Abbey Archambault (Jr.), S Sydney Lobato (So.), LIB Alysia Nielson (Jr.), MB Ashley Brennan (So.)

Outlook: While many squads would have been thrilled to advance to a region semifinal, the Gaels had a bit of a down season by their standards last year.

Cunningham (248 kills, 24 aces, 32 blocks), Archambault (162 kills, 23 blocks), Brennan (113 kills, 38 blocks), Lobato (315 assists, 16 blocks) and Nielson (190 digs) all return and should lead the Gaels, who had their streak of five straight state tournament appearances snapped last year.

“We are still a young team with only three seniors, but our expectations are high and we expect to be one of the top teams in Southern Nevada and return to state,” Van Meetren said. “We are very deep and have an outstanding group of juniors, sophomores and even a few freshmen who will contribute before the end of the year.”



League: Division I Northwest

Head coach: Dan Savage, fourth season

2014 record: 25-13 (6-2 Northwest, second)

Returning letter winners (starters): Six (five)

Top athletes: S Hayley Huntsman (Sr.), MH/OH Jaycie Johnson (Sr.), MH/OH Taryn Warner (Jr.), OPP Sofia Pesci (Jr.)

Outlook: The Bengals return five starters from a successful squad last season, but must make up for the loss of Sophie Cram, who will play at Brigham Young University this year.

Huntsman racked up 774 assists, 283 digs, 166 kills and 89 aces last year, and is joined by Johnson (147 kills), Warner (106 kills, 40 blocks) and Pesci (111 killls, 133 digs, 24 aces).

“Behind the leadership of four-year starter Hayley Huntsman, the team looks to take advantage of its versatility,” Savage said. “The graduation of Sophie Cram has created some opportunities for players to step up this season.

“Hard work and defense will be the keys to victory for this year’s Bonanza squad.”



League: Division I-A Sunrise

Head coach: Cherise Hinman, 18th season

2014 record: 24-9 (13-1 Sunrise, first)

Returning letter winners (starters): Seven (four)

Top athletes: S Tara Cox (Sr.), OH Jaden Wood (Sr.), OH Maggie Rowe (So.), OPP Emma Jeppsen (Sr.), LIB Bayden Huxford (Sr.), S/DS Alea Lehr (Jr.)

Outlook: The Eagles could be set up for a big year after returning seven letter winners from last year’s squad that won the Sunrise League.

Cox (561 assists, 62 aces) and Lehr (207 assists, 97 aces) will have plenty of weapons to whom they can distribute the ball with Wood (247 kills), Roe (154 kills, 80 blocks) and Jeppsen (85 kills) all back. Huxford (196 digs) returns to bolster the defense.

“We have many returning seniors like our strong outside hitter second-team All-Sunrise pick Jaden Wood and first team opposite hitter Emma Jepsen, in addition to setter Tara Cox, who led the conference in assists last season and our libero Bayden Huxford,” Hinman said. “All of these girls have been playing together for a while.

“In addition, several strong younger players will make their presence known on the floor such as returning sophomore Maggie Rowe, a first-team All-Sunrise selection and second-team selection Alea Lehr, who led the division in ace serves.

“Our expectations are to finish at the top of our league and qualify for state.”



League: Division III Southern

Head coach: Nick Davis, eighth season

2014 record: 20-12 (11-5 Southern, fourth)

Returning letter winners (starters): Seven (four)

Top athletes: MH Malia Lee (Jr.), DS Sara Hernandez (Jr.), DS Lexi Davis (Jr.), OH Olivia Kieser (So.), S Mariah Martin (Sr.)

Outlook: The Lions have had one of the stronger Division III programs in the state in recent years and hope to continue that this season as seven letter winners return.

“We are a very young team, but our young players have played in a lot of big games so we are hopeful we will return to the playoffs and make a little noise,” coach Davis said.



League: Division I Northwest

Head coach: Shannon Alia, eighth season

2014 record: 10-21 (5-3 Northwest, third)

Returning letter winners (starters): Seven (three)

Top athletes: Bailey Anderson (Jr.), Emily Anderson (So.), Talie Bonds (Jr.), Kiana Falefitu (Sr.), Gabrielle Neuman (Sr.), Siara Roberts (So.), Kjersten Saunders (Sr.)

Outlook: The Bulldogs had their moments last year, but lacked consistent results. With seven letter winners returning, they’re hoping for a more successful season.

“We have a good group of girls this year that can do great things if they come together as a team,” Alia said. “Our girls are hungry to win back the league title and do well at regionals so they are able to make a state appearance.”



League: Division I Southeast

Head coach: Matt Johnson, sixth season

2014 record: 34-7 (10-0 Southeast, first)

Returning letter winners (starters): Nine (five)

Top athletes: S Cali Thompson (Sr.), MB/OH Nikki Jackson (Sr.), OH Carolyn Andrulis (Sr.), OPP Emily Bender (Sr.), OH Navi Lee (Sr.)

Outlook: The two-time defending state champions lost one of the best players in the state when Berkeley Oblad graduated, but return five starters.

Thompson (11.3 assists per game, 53 aces) has plenty of weapons to utilize in Andrulis (2.5 kills per game, 2.5 digs per game), Jackson (2.4 kpg), Bender (2.1 kpg, 50 aces) and Lee (2.0 kpg, 2.6 dpg).

“The returnees have worked hard in the offseason to prepare for this coming year,” Johnson said. “We return the majority of the starting lineup from last year’s team, so we look to rely on the experiences of the past couple of seasons to help us through tough situations.

“We anticipate being a well-balanced team with depth at all positions. We look forward to the challenge of defending our title.”



League: Division I Northwest

Head coach: Nick Porter, second season

2014 record: 10-23 (1-7 Northwest, fourth)

Returning letter winners (starters): Five (two)

Top athletes: OH Madison Norr (So.), MB Kaia Rhodes (Jr.)

Outlook: Rhodes (91 kills, 39 blocks) and Norr (85 kills, 88 digs) are two of the five returnees for the Diamondbacks, who lost eight players to graduation.

“We have a young team looking to build on last year’s progress,” Porter said. “They’re very dedicated and determined to be competitive in our league this season.”



League: Division I Southwest

Head coach: Amy Schlauder, third season

2014 record: 14-19 (1-7 Southwest, fifth)

Returning letter winners (starters): Four (three)

Top athletes: MB Neymara Camden (Sr.), OPP Adrianna Willeford (Sr.), LIB Cayla Cooper (Sr.), OH Kaci Kedrowski (So.), S Lindsey Horne (Sr.)

Outlook: The Trailblazers return four letter winners from a team that narrowly missed a postseason berth last year.

With six seniors, including second-team All-Sunset Region selection Cooper, Durango should be in a better position to compete this year.



League: Division I-A Sunset

Head coach: Amy Fisher, 10th season

2014 record: 28-13 (14-0 Sunset, first)

Returning letter winners (starters): Nine (three)

Top athletes: S Megan Kronschnabel (Sr.), OH Bobbie Tharaldson (Sr.), MH Elizabeth Tuls (Jr.)

Outlook: The two-time defending Division I-A state champions have some starting spots to fill, but return nine letter winners.

Kronschnabel (867 assists, 48 aces) and Tharaldson (134 kills, 60 aces) both were significant contributors last season and will be counted on again this year.

“The team will look to newcomers to fill the remaining positions,” Fisher said. “Even though the Crusaders will have a few new faces, they expect to compete for a conference, regional and state championship.”



League: Division I Southeast

Head coach: Krysta Ortiz, ninth season

2014 record: 20-11 (8-2 Southeast, second)

Returning letter winners (starters): Six (two)

Outlook: The Falcons had a successful season last year, but return just two starters, including a first-team All-Sunrise Region honoree in senior Tessa Michalosky.

“We have a focused group of talented athletes who are committed to improving themselves individually and as a team,” Ortiz said. “The Falcons expect to be strong, competitive and contend well into the postseason.”



League: Division I Southeast

Head coach: Erin Hill, 25th season

2014 record: 10-22 (3-7 Southeast, fifth)

Returning letter winners (starters): Six (three)

Top athletes: S Carlee Becker (Jr.), MB Julia Carlson (Sr.), OH Rachel Klopfer (Jr.)

Outlook: A young team struggled at times last year, and being a part of the toughest of the Division I leagues didn’t help the Gators, who missed the playoffs for the first time in more than 18 years.

Becker (407 assists, 149 digs, 57 kills, 39 aces), Carlson (187 kills, 36 blocks, 22 aces) and Klopfer (219 kills, 175 digs, 48 aces, 24 blocks) are back to lead a squad that hopes to start another long streak.

“The Gators again this year will have a youthful group of varsity athletes who are committed to working hard and improving each practice, set and match,” Hill said.



League: Division III Southern

Head coach: Erika Hetzer, second season

2014 record: 14-11 (10-6 Southern, fifth)

Returning letter winners (starters): Five (five)

Top athletes: OH Jenette Hensley (Sr.), OH/MH Alle Butz (So.), S Rachael Watkins (Sr.)

Outlook: The Eagles return five starters — two seniors and three sophomores — from a team that finished one game out of a tie for third in the Southern League.

Hensley had 58 kills and 38 aces, and Butz added 58 kills last season for Lake Mead. Watkins (173 assists, 48 aces) will again guide the offense.

“I am expecting to have a competitive squad that will make the playoffs and even possibly make a state championship run,” Hetzer said. “It isn’t going to be easy, and we are going to need to build our mental toughness, but I know our seniors, with their passion and desire, will lead our younger girls.”



League: Division I Northeast

Head coach: Justin Graham, first season

2014 record: 13-18 (5-3 Northeast, second)

Returning letter winners (starters): Nine (four)

Top athletes: MB Tajanae Davis (Sr.), S Lexia Brockett (Sr.)

Outlook: Graham takes over for long-time coach Sue Thurman, who now heads the College of Southern Nevada volleyball program.

He inherits a team with four starters returning.

“This is a dedicated group of seniors looking to leave their mark on our program,” Graham said. “They are working hard to be ready to compete with anyone come playoffs.”



League: Division I Southwest

Head coach: Ray Lewis, fourth season

2014 record: 12-19 (1-7 Southwest, fourth)

Returning letter winners (starters): Eight (four)

Top athletes: OH Myah Maxwell (So.), RS Saipeti Fuiava (Sr.), LIB Jorden Yamaguchi (Sr.)

Outlook: The Longhorns bring back eight letter winners, including Fuiava, a second-team All-Southwest honoree.

Legacy struggled in a rugged league last year and is hoping to show improvement this season.



League: Division I Northeast

Head coach: Brandon Kersting, first season

2014 record: 5-12 (5-3 Northeast, third)

Returning letter winners (starters): Seven (four)

Top athletes: OH Maggie Heim (Jr.), OH Tiffany Watkins (Sr.), S Aaliyah Ward (So.), MB Alexandra Farnsworth (So.)

Outlook: Kersting inherits a squad that returns seven letter winners.

“We have a young team this year with only four seniors,” Kersting said. “We know the competition is going to be tough, but with the hard work the team is putting in, we look to be very competitive.

“With the coaching staff coming over from the boys program, our goal is the same: develop our team to be the best, compete at the highest level and make a deep run into the playoffs.”



League: Division III Southern

Head coach: Nicki King, first season

2014 record: 20-14 (11-5 Southern, third)

Top athletes: DS Elyse Burns (Sr.), LIB Amanda Hansen (Sr.), MB Dina Kosyagin (So.), OH Kaitlyn Abdo (Jr.), OPP Hanna Mulholland (Jr.)

Outlook: The Mustangs advanced to the state tournament last year and continually have one of the best Division III programs in the state, but the loss of nine seniors to graduation will be difficult to overcome.

“We are excited for this season as we are very young but ready to surprise,” King said. “This is somewhat of a new life for these youngsters, all having successful seasons last year and hopefully that will carry over to this year.”



League: Division I-A Sunrise

Head coach: Mandie Matheson, sixth season

2014 record: 15-13 (11-3 Sunrise, third)

Returning letter winners (starters): Six (five)

Outlook: The Pirates return five starters from a team that was in the hunt for the Sunrise League title last year.

“Our players have been working diligently during the offseason to improve technique and playing experience,” Matheson said. “Our success this season will come from the depth of players we have.

“With six returners and strong first-year varsity players in every position, we look forward to using each player’s strengths to develop the chemistry that will make us most successful this season.”



League: Division IV Southern

Head coach: Ginger Whipple, 33rd season

2014 record: 24-8 (10-0 Southern, first)

Returning letter winners (starters): Eight (four)

Top athletes: DS Brook Higbee (Sr.), S Allyse Frehner (Jr.), OH Madison Harris (Jr.), OH Karley Whipple (So.)

Outlook: Higbee (94 digs, 31 aces) is the only senior on a squad that is the two-time defending Division IV state champion.

“We still have a young team, however another year experience will give them the confidence they lacked last year,” coach Whipple said. “We expect our only senior, Brook Higbee, to lead this team and keep them focused, as young teams tend to lack that ability.”

Frehner (239 assists), Karley Whipple (114 kills, 55 digs) and Harris (72 kills) also are expected to contribute.

“We are preparing to be competitive in our league and hope to continue our appearance in the postseason,” coach Whipple said.



League: Division IV Southern

Head coach: Nicole Woods, third season

2014 record: 1-12 (1-9 Southern, 10th)

Returning starters: Six

Top athletes: MH Lateasha Marcure (Sr.), S Alexis Madziarek (Sr.), S Mariah Mayfield (Sr.), OH Destiny Peed (Sr.), MH Ariana Marich (Jr.), OH Josie Merritt (Jr.)

Outlook: The Knights are primed for a big turnaround this season after returning all six starters, including four seniors.

“We are really excited for these returning girls to step it up and play as a team,” Woods said. “Teambuilding has been a really large focus for us.

“We also are looking forward to developing the other nine players we have.”



League: Division I Southwest

Head coach: Karissa Guthrie, 10th season

2014 record: 26-10 (7-1 Southwest, first)

Returning letter winners (starters): Six (two)

Top athletes: S Eadara Files (Sr.), OH Whittnee Nihipali (So.)

Outlook: First the good news for the Mustangs: Files, who dished out 828 assists in helping the Mustangs advance to the Division I state title match last year, returns to guide the offense.

Now the more challenging news: Seven seniors graduated, and the Mustangs have only two returning starters, but still have high hopes for the season.

Nihipali had 173 kills last season and should be a big contributor.

“There is no rebuilding in our program, simply reloading,” Guthrie said. “We believe we have put together a very strong group of student-athletes who will continue to have the same goals going into the 2015 season.”



League: Division I-A Sunrise

Head coach: Lori Barnum, second season

2014 record: 19-12 (12-2 Sunrise, second)

Returning letter winners (starters): Nine (six)

Top athletes: OH Bernice Fiso (Jr.), OH Emma Barnum (Jr.), S Janella Fiso (Sr.), OPP Kaydee Bingham (Sr.)

Outlook: The Bulldogs bring back six starters from a squad that finished one match behind Boulder City for first in the Sunrise League.

“We are really excited about this coming year,” coach Barnum said. “We have most of our team back from last year, and we expect to be better than last year.”



League: Division I-A Sunset

Head coach: Norm Smith, second season

2014 record: 1-17 (0-14 Sunset, eighth)

Returning letter winners (starters): Five (three)

Top athletes: MB/MH Destiny Gonzalez (Sr.), DS Victoria Shafiullah (Sr.)

Outlook: The Warriors had a lot of work to do and started that process last year in Smith’s first season.

Gonzalez (96 kills, 50 digs, 26 aces, 22 blocks) and Shafiullah (25 digs, 10 aces) lead a group of five returning letter winners who are striving to improve this season.

“We hope to build on the foundation we created last year,” Smith said. “We lost numerous starters to graduation, so we will be relying heavily on our three returning starters to help lead the team early in the season.”



League: Division IV Southern

Head coach: Tina Newmiller, second season

2014 record: 2-16 (1-8 Southern, ninth)

Returning letter winners (starters): Four (four)

Top athletes: OH Cherish Green (Sr.), S Ayanna Banks (Sr.), S Abigail Shuman (Sr.), OH Arieyanna Banks, MB Samantha Gillespie, MB Alissa Chavez, MB Hayley Newmiller, MB Aliyanna Sanders.

Outlook: The Eagles continue to build their program and hope to be more competitive in the Southern League.

“The Eagles expect to play to the best of our ability and to exceed our previous year’s skill level and leave a lasting legacy for the future players within our school,” coach Newmiller said.

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