Some teams contend for conference championships, while others strive for deep postseason runs or rebuild for future success.
And then there is the Burlington High School girls volleyball team. This season the Demons are seeking to win a third consecutive WIAA Division 1 state championship and appear to have the pieces in place to do that.
Also primed for a strong year is Catholic Central. The reigning WIAA Division 4 state champion has a quality returning roster as well as some young players who could keep the Lady Toppers competitive the next several years.
Here’s a look at the Racine County girls teams:
COACH: Willie Maryland III, seventh season.
LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 5-23 overall, 1-6 SEC; lost 3-1 to Kenosha Indian Trail in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Erica Heffel (center), Jillian Humphreys (MH), Lauren Willing (L), Allie Zelko (OH). Junior — Neenah Stinson (MH).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Eagles are rebuilding, but could surprise. According to coach Willie Maryland, this year’s team boasts one of the best freshmen classes he has had. Freshman Natalie Harris should contribute this season, Maryland said.
COACH: Melissa Firtko, second season.
LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 7-18 overall, 3-6 SEC; lost 3-2 to Kenosha Tremper in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Kelsey Jacobs (S), Katelyn Rooney (DS), Haley Wilkinson (OH), Ellie Corona (MB), Courtney DeRosia (MB). Sophomore — Gina Svatek (OH)
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Rebels graduated Ally Hanstedt and Samantha Hills, but still have plenty of experience. Newcomers junior Jasmine Nelson and sophomore Kaylea McCabe could make immediate impacts.
COACH: Samantha Robinson, second season.
LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 0-20 overall, 0-6 SEC; lost 3-0 to Oak Creek in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Adriana Bumpus (OH), Tashiana Pie (RS/M), Angela Schram (RS/S). Juniors — Ysela Cruz (L), Abigail Roushia (MB), Genesis Thompkins (S).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: A year of growth hopes to see the Panthers jell under second-year coach Robinson. A good combination of a returning core —including Ysela Cruz, Abby Roushia and Genesis Thompkins— will look to click with new talent.
“This year we have a big up-and-coming player freshman Keep Williams,” Robinson said. “(Williams) plays outside for us and is a strong force both offensively and defensively.”
Southern Lakes Conference
CO-COACHES: Dan Lynch, 31st season and Teri Little, 18th season.
LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 39-5 overall, 7-0 SLC, finished first in the SLC; won 3-1 against Oconomowoc in the WIAA Division 1 state championship match.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Emily Alan (MB), Laren Baldowsky (MB), Kaley Blake (S), Cayla Gutche (DS), Claire Walby (DS). Juniors — Mackenzie Leach (OH). Ally Meyerhofer (DS), Samantha Naber (DS), Amanda Viel (OH/DS). Sophomore —Morgan Klein (OH).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Ranked fourth in Division 1 in the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association poll, the Demons have a complete team that features a large returning cast. They will be favorites to win conference and should challenge for state once again.
COACH: Ashley Ingish, sixth season.
LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 17-19 overall, 4-3 SLC; placed fourth in the SLC, lost 3-0 to Kettle Moraine in the WIAA Division 1 regional final.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Olivia Busch (MH), Katy Gill (OH), Delaeny Romanowich (OH), Peyton Strasser (DS), Liz Sutherland (DS), Delaney Thomas (L). Juniors — Mariah Grunze (OH), Kaitlyn Kolb (RS). Sophomore — Josie Johnson (S).
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WHAT TO LOOK FOR: 6-foot-3 right side hitter Kaitlyn Kolb will play a big part for the improving Wolverines. Kolb is part of a diverse mix of talent that can see senior middle and four-year letter winner Olivia Busch combining with sophomore setter Josie Johnson and freshman middle Isabel Floryance throughout the year.
“Expectations for this season are to have a more balanced attack,” Ingish said. “I am hoping for big contributions from our right side and outside hitters to balance out the outside attack.”
UNION GROVE BRONCOS
COACH: Annie Sireno, fifth season.
LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 31-14 overall, 5-2 SLC; finished third in the SLC, lost 3-0 in the WIAA Division 1 regional Final to Oregon.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Bailey Berger (OH), Olivia Dir (OH), Kelsey Henderson (L), Abbie Hogan (RS/OH), Allison Lentz (OH/RS), Karlee Lois (S). Juniors — Rylee Deuel (MH), Bella Kasuboskii (DS), Makayla Moffatt (DS), Lainy Pettit (MH).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Broncos, who received an honorable mention in Division 1 in the WVCA poll, feature a roster packed with experience, having 12 of 13 players on the team being either a senior or junior. The lone exception is freshman Sydney Ludvigsen, who Sireno also believes will make an impact.
“Our team has a lot of experience playing at the varsity level,” Sireno said. “Our seniors have shown great leadership. We hope to make a run in the post season.”
Metro Classic Conference
CATHOLIC CENTRAL LADY TOPPERS
COACH: Wayne Schultz, second season.
LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 39-7 overall, 8-0 MCC; Won MCC and WIAA Division 4 state title.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Katie Goethal (MH), Izzy Phillips (OH). Juniors — Grace Antlfinger (L), Lainey Dirksmeyer (OH), Sammie Seib (OH), Ella Shaw (S). Sophomore — Mckayla Voss (OH/S), Kelsee Weiss (OH).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The defending state champions will look to defend their crown with first-team All-State outside hitter Seib. The Ladytoppers will also feature exciting additions of juniors Cara Krien (MH) and Hannah Sobbe (OH), sophomores Julia Klein (MH) and Alexis Kucera (OH) and freshman Kelly Pum (L).
RACINE LUTHERAN CRUSADERS
COACH: Becky Demuth, 17th season
LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 23-15 overall, 3-5 MCC; lost 3-0 to Living Word Lutheran in a WIAA Division 3 regional final.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Senior — Lydia Sanchez (OH). Junior — Morgann Gardner (MH), Madison Mohar (DS), Alexis Peterson (S). Sophomores — Lili Kading (OH), Mya Lequia (MH/OH), Kenzie Scanlon (L/DS)
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Last year proved valuable for a young Crusaders team that reached a regional final. This year, after gaining significant varsity experience, they hope to make another run.
“We have a young group of players who come in with club experience and we hope that as the team learns to jell together on the court the team will just keep improving all season long,” Racine Lutheran coach Becky Demuth said. “The team has strong leadership with players who want to put in the work to be better each and everyday.”
ST. CATHERINE’S ANGELS
CO-COACHES: Katie Olson, 13th season and Laura Egan, first season.
LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 13-22 overall, 4-4 MCC; lost 3-0 to Catholic Memorial in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Kate Cafferty (MB), Kelsey Carrington (MB), Abby Cook (DS), Erin McCauley (OH), Alexis Monosa (DS), Leah Topp (S), Sophie Wentorf (OH). Juniors — Maddie Herrera (DS), Angi Nehmer (DS). Sophomore — Megan Topp (DS).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Olson returns as head coach of the Angels after taking a five-year break from coaching. The Angels’ depth could be tested over the course of the season, but the team will have valuable leadership in senior setter Leah Topp.
“(Topp) is an inspiration,” Olson said. “She has excellent hands and heart you can’t teach. She has been one of the constants as setter in our 5-1 offense and has been an excellent leader to all the girls on the team. No matter what the score is, you will see her giving 100 percent out on that court.”
COACH: Sophia Penkala, first season
LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 24-8 overall, 7-1 MCC; lost 3-0 to Living Word Lutheran in a WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Katie Jester (DS), MacKenzie Wienke (DS). Junior —Abby Decker (OH).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Hawks have a new coach in Penkala, a former member of the USA Volleyball women’s national team and four-time all-conference selection at Pepperdine University. The Hawks came close to making state last year, but graduated 10 seniors.