Reservoir volleyball gets the nod as Preseason No. 1

The 2022 Baltimore Banner/Varsity Sports Network Preseason Volleyball Top 15

Published on: August 25, 2022 5:58 AM EDT|Updated on: August 25, 2022 5:50 PM EDT

More of the area’s best volleyball teams will play each other than ever before this fall as Maryvale Prep, the defending Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champion, expands its schedule to include a few of the top public school programs, and Anne Arundel and Howard counties have some crossover of their own.

Arundel, Reservoir and Glenelg won state titles last season and they are poised for more great matches within their conferences. Reservoir, however, appears to have reloaded better than any other team and gets the nod at No. 1 in the inaugural Baltimore Banner/Varsity Sports Network poll as VSN and The Banner join forces for high school sports coverage.

Now, let’s introduce the 2022 Baltimore Banner/Varsity Sports Network Preseason Volleyball Top 15.

1. RESERVOIR

2021 Record: 18-1

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 3

Coach: Carole Ferrante

Players to watch: Gabby Allen, Sr., libero; Kelsey Holmes, Sr., right-side hitter; Madison Hill, Sr., middle hitter; Mayah Tucker, Sr., outside hitter

Rotation points: The defending Class 3A state and co-Howard County champs graduated VSN Player of the Year Samiha Foster, but Tucker, who missed last season after tearing a ligament in her foot, should step right into that spot. Junior setter Haley Ko fills the other hole left by graduation. The Gators, however, are built on defense and, with Allen’s leadership, they let very few balls hit the floor, giving their offense many chances to put the ball away.

2. ARUNDEL

2021 Record: 19-1

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 2

Coach: Ashley Yuscavage

Players to watch: Emily Liu, Sr., setter; Audrey Owens, Sr., outside hitter

Rotation points: The Wildcats have won back-to-back Class 4A state championships, but they took a big hit from graduation, including losing powerhouse middle Zaria Ragler. They return just two starters, so Yuscavage will revamp her offense to suit her new lineup. The Wildcats have been able to bounce back with talented newcomers in the past, so they likely won’t fall too far in the highly competitive Anne Arundel County league.

3. CENTENNIAL

2021 Record: 14-4

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 5

Coach: Mike Bossom

Players to watch: Mailinh Godschall, Jr., outside hitter; Brianna Bossom, Sr., setter; Sklyar Brown, Sr., middle hitter

Rotation points: The Eagles bring back every starter from the team that lost to Howard in five sets in the regional semifinal. Last year, their strength was defense and serve receive, but this year look for the Eagles to be much stronger at the net. Veteran setter Bossom will have lots of options as their middle hitting should be improved and lefty Godschall will continue to power the outside.

4. MARYVALE PREP

2021 Record: 18-0

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 1

Coach: Missy Little

Players to watch: Libby Potter, Sr., outside hitter; Athena Savick, Sr., libero; Samantha Elliott, Jr., middle hitter

Rotation points: The defending Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champions did not lose a set all of last season and they return five starters. While Potter should pick up the slack from the loss of their top gun, look for veteran junior setter Kaitlyn Hall to spread the ball around more. Little has added games against Arundel, Broadneck and Severna Park to continue to build the program.

5. BROADNECK

2021 Record: 15-3

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 10

Coach: Tracey Regalbuto

Players to watch: Madeline Stewart, Sr., setter; Bella Rubino, Sr., outside hitter

Rotation points: The Bruins return six starters from the team that fell to Arundel in the Anne Arundel County championship last fall after splitting two regular-season matches. Stewart and Rubino lead the strong returning contingent, but the rest of the team is new. Regalbuto added five freshmen and the Bruins are half underclassmen, so their success will ride on how quickly the veterans and newcomers come together.

6. CROFTON

2021 Record: 14-5

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 15

Coach: Greg LeGrand

Player to watch: Lily Lagaras, Sr. outside hitter; Cora Shafer, Sr., middle hitter; Emily Gustie, Sr., outside hitter

Rotation points: The Cardinals were a first-year program last fall, so LeGrand returns every starter and adds a couple of transfers. Without a senior last year, they emerged as one of the top programs in Anne Arundel County. With a front line at least 6-feet tall across on both rotations, senior setter Christine Wang has a lot of options.

7. GLENELG

2021 Record: 16-5

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 7

Coach: Jason Monjes

Players to watch: Lindsay Kelley, Jr., setter; Lauren LaPointe, Sr., right-side/middle blocker; Liesl Walter, Jr., middle blocker

Rotation points: The Gladiators won the Class 2A state championship last fall and return three starters, including an excellent setter in Kelley. They have to make up for the loss of their biggest attack weapon, outside hitter Mackenzie Calhoun, who transferred to River Hill, but they have that potential. They remain defensively strong in the back court and at the net.

8. RIVER HILL

2021 Record: 11-4

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 6

Coach: Lynn Paynter

Players to watch: Grace Leska, Jr., outside hitter; Brooke Laumann, Sr., libero; Mackenzie Calhoun, Jr., setter

Rotation points: The Hawks, who graduated six players, return four starters and pick up a seasoned setter in Calhoun, a transfer from Glenelg. Calhoun led the Gladiators to the state Class 2A title as a hitter, but she has been a setter for her club team. The Hawks have great potential but will have to develop new connections as the newcomers adjust.

9. HOWARD

2021 Record: 17-2

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 4

Coach: Grant Scott

Players to watch: Corinne Chau, Sr., outside hitter; Kelenna Onukwugha, Sr., outside hitter; Natalie Wheeler, Sr., right-side hitter/setter

Rotation points: The co-Howard County champs won their first regional title in 40 years last season, but fell in the Class 3A state quarterfinals to eventual champion Reservoir in five sets. Three starters return, but Onukwugha is still recovering from surgery for a knee injury suffered last October. She hopes to be cleared to play soon which would give the Lions a big boost.

10. BEL AIR

2021 Record: 17-1

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 8

Coach: Dave Simon

Players to watch: Kayden Hardenbrook, Jr., outside hitter; Lexi Bell, Sr., libero; Anna Kane; Soph., setter

Rotation points: The two-time Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference champions return five starters as they aim to continue their streak of 23 straight conference victories and three straight appearances in the Class 3A state final four, including the 2018 title game. Their two new setters are quick studies and they have a variety of offensive weapons.

11. ARCHBISHOP SPALDING

2021 record: 11-7

Final VSN 2021 ranking: 16

Coach: Corby Lawrence

Players to watch: Mariah Sanabia, Sr., middle hitter; Kristen Burton, Sr., setter; Maya Mauro, Jr., outside hitter

Rotation points: The IAAM A Conference finalists return six of seven starters. The Cavaliers’ aim of getting back to the title game in a conference that got stronger with the addition of last year’s top two B Conference teams, however, may hinge on their health. They have all the pieces, but several players are still recovering from injuries during club season.

12. ANNAPOLIS AREA CHRISTIAN

2021 Record: 13-2

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 13

Coach: Jennie Murduck

Players to watch: Malani Martin, Jr., outside hitter; Madison Sidney, Jr., setter; Elena Woody, Jr., libero

Rotation points: The Eagles rolled undefeated through the IAAM B Conference regular season but fell to St. Mary’s in last year’s tournament semifinal. They now move to the A Conference. Despite losing eight players, they get a big boost from the return of Martin, who is bouncing back from an ACL tear last season and will likely emerge as one of the conference’s top hitters.

13. SEVERNA PARK

2021 Record: 11-5

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 14

Coach: Tim Dunbar

Players to watch: Perry Stevenson, Jr., outside hitter; Ava Meadows, Sr., middle/right-side hitter; Jackie Ball, Jr., middle/outside hitter

Rotation points: The Falcons, who finished third behind Arundel and Broadneck in the Anne Arundel County league, lost only to teams that reached the regional final or better, including twice to Class 4A state champ Arundel. After losing their top hitter, the Falcons will have to revamp their offense, but they have experience with five returning starters.

14. ST. JOHN’S CATHOLIC PREP

2021 Record: 15-3

Final VSN 2021 ranking: 12

Coach: Meagan Bohn

Players to watch: Kalia Espenlaub, Sr., outside hitter; Jillian Fedor, Sr., libero: Katie Russell, Soph., setter

Rotation points: After winning the IAAM B Conference championship last year, the Vikings step up to the A Conference. They return five starters but graduated two setters. Russell will step into that role and with veteran hitters and senior leadership around her, the Vikings have the pieces to contend in the A Conference.

15T. HEREFORD

2021 Record: 17-2

Final VSN 2021 ranking: No. 9

Coach: Dave Schreiner

Players to watch: Grace Yocham, Sr., outside hitter; Lauren Brooks, Sr., outside hitter; Aubrey Craig, Sr., middle hitter

Rotation points: The defending Baltimore County champions return five starters from the team that reached the Class 2A state semifinal finals before falling to eventual champ Glenelg. The Bulls have solid hitting, a veteran setter in junior Rebecca Fetterolf and continue to be the team to beat in Baltimore County.

15T. LIBERTY

2021 Record: 12-4

Final VSN 2021 ranking: Not ranked

Coach: Sheri Hagen

Players to watch: Sarah Hart, Sr., outside hitter; Paige Coulson, Sr., outside hitter; Grace Maerten, Jr., setter

Rotation points: After finishing second in Carroll County to Westminster last season, the Lions have the experience to make a run at winning the title. Six starters return with Hart and Coulson giving them a strong front line. They need to bolster the back-row defense a bit, but the Lions have great chemistry and work well together as a unit.