If you’re looking for a prep volleyball fix, you can find it here today, and pretty much every Monday throughout the season.
The Seattle Times’ Class 4A and 3A state polls make their debut in tomorrow’s paper, and you get a sneak peak below. It wasn’t easy putthing them together. I made dozens of phone calls and three things were very apparent:
1. Mead of Spokane deserves the opening nod in 4A, despite heavy graduation losses. That happens when you’ve won five consecutive state titles, as the Panthers have. Sure, they return only one starter, but she happens to one of the top junior recruits in the country — 6-foot-5 Alexis Olgard, who recently committed to USC. Kentwood of Covington might look better on paper, but tradition trumps that in September.
2. Roll the dice in 3A. There is no concensus favorite, thanks in part to the reclassification cycle. Hanford, the defending champ, is still in 3A, but has little experience back. Auburn Riverside, last year’s runner-up, is back up to 4A, and should make waves there. So why not Auburn Mountainview, even though the Lions have yet to win a state trophy?
3. It’s another banner year for the sport in Western Washington, where Division I recruits abound. The South Puget Sound League 3A along features four players with Pac-10 commitments — Mountainview’s Megan McBride (OSU), Sumner’s Jocelyn Levig (Oregon), Enumclaw’s Gabbi Sisco (Oregon) and Lakes’ Deedra Foss (UW). Foss is just a junior.
I expect much debate about who should be the 3A favorite. When Auburn Mountainview was ranked No. 1 in the first state coaches’ poll, I wasn’t the only one who was a bit surprised. Certainly, McBride is a talent, and the Lions picked up a pair of key transfers (sisters) from Silverdale. And, sure, Momi Bowles is an excellent coach who has gotten this young program up and running in a hurry. Remember, Mountainview is just a fourth-year school. But it’s rare to give the preseason No. 1 to a team that has never won a state trophy. The Lions went to state in 2006 ((0-2) and ’07 (1-2).
That said, I ultimately took a why-not approach after looking at what else is out there in 3A. I won’t be surprised to see a young Hanford team back at state, but the Falcons will have to work their way up my rankings. Shorecrest and Kennedy (which has another D-1 kid in OSU-bound Ashley Eneliko), are both very good, but haven’t gotten the job done at state recently either, in terms of winning it all.
I looked at Prairie of suburban Vancouver and Shadle Park of Spokane, both of which dropped a classification this year. Either one could take the title, but don’t necessarily deserve top billing at this point either. Bishop Blanchet is in that reloading (not rebuiling) phase, but Eastside Catholic might is considered the Metro favorite by many, with Holy Names a top contender, too.
There’s Sumner and Mount Si and Mercer Island, plus a couple other good Spokane schools. So, take your pick. I did, and went with Auburn Mountainview.
In 4A, this could be the year Kentwood finally climbs to the top after stumbling the past two years. Remember, the Conquerors have lost only two matches during that span — one to Mead in the 2006 quarterfinals and one to Lewis and Clark of Spokane in last year’s semis. Both went five games. K-Dub has some talented seniors who want to go out in style.
Issaquah comes in as the KingCo 4A favorite after seeing some success in 3A. In fact, a couple of coaches told me the top three KingCo 4A teams might be Issaquah, Skyline and Newport, which all were 3A a year ago. But watch out for Bothell.
At any rate, here are my rankings and I welcome your thoughts.
1, Mead (Spokane)
With 6-5 junior Alexis Olgard (USC commit), Panthers have six-peat possibilities
2, Kentwood (Covington)
Seasoned seniors (two losses in two years) could finally Conquer it all
3, Lewis and Clark (Spokane)
Last year’s runner-up still has an Ocean (as in Oceana Bush) of talent
Kylin Munoz (No. 6 senior in the nation) should lead Bearcats up the ladder
5, Skyview (Vancouver)
A year older, Storm could blow away the competition
Eagles soar into 4A with high trophy hopes
7, Kamiakin (Kennewick)
Still 3A in size, Braves opt up and bring down opponents
8, Curtis (University Place)
Vikings back for more after earning first-ever trophy
9, Auburn Riverside
Brooke Bray sparks last year’s 3A finalist
Warriors have a shot at first trophy since 1997
Others (alphabetically) — Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma), Bothell, Eisenhower (Yakima), Inglemoor, Kamiak, Kentlake, Marysville-Pilchuck, Newport (Bellevue), Olympia, Puyallup, Rogers (Puyallup), Skyline (Issaquah), Southridge (Kennewick), Richland, Spanaway Lake, Walla Walla.
1, Auburn Mountainview
With Megan McBride (OSU) and transfer Tara Patton, Lions roar to the top
2, Shorecrest (Shoreline)
Another year, another trophy run for the Scots
3, Kennedy (Burien)
Ashley Eneliko (OSU) presents major (road)block for opponents
Drop from 4A helps gives Falcons a great flight plan
With Jocelyn Levig (Oregon), Spartans could levitate to the top
6, Shadle Park
Storied 4A program (5 titles, 13 trophies) brings extra pop to 3A
7, Mount Si
Wildcats should improve on last year’s eighth-place showing
8, Eastside Catholic
Look for Crusaders to have a breakout season
9, Mercer Island
Hungry Islanders anxious to do some damage after disappointing 2007 finish
10, Bishop Blanchet
Tradition outranks turnover as young Braves can’t be overlooked
Others (alphabetically) — Black Hills, Bonney Lake, Camas, East Valley (Spokane), Enumclaw, Hanford, Holy Names, Lakes (Lakewood), Mount Spokane, Union (Vancouver).
— Sandy Ringer