Who is the preseason favorite to win the 4A state volleyball championship this season?
According to John Tawa of PrepVolleyball.com, it’s Emerald Ridge of Puyallup. I might have to agree with him, although I am just starting to work on The Seattle Times’ state rankings (likely to debut here on Sept. 8).
The Jaguars sit at No. 47 in Tawa’s preseason National 100, what he calls the Century Club of high-school rankings.
Here’s what he had to say about them:
The once powerful Jaguars are having a resurgence under coach Bobby McGivern. After a six-year absence from the state tournament, Emerald Ridge returned to place ninth in 2012 and captured third place a year ago with only one senior starter, middle blocker Tristyn Smith, who recorded 183 kills. Four others who had more than 100 kills are back, led by 6-1 senior OH Jenna Muller, the league MVP in 2013 after amassing 504 kills and 269 digs. Senior middle Jessica Davis, who stands 6-2; senior middle Audrey Saelens and junior OH Makenna Smith will be other inviting targets for veteran setter Isabella Zubrod.Among impact newcomers, keep an eye on junior Ashley Wesenberg, who stands 6-4; and 5-11 freshieTayler Templeman. 48.
Bellarmine Prep, the two-time defending 4A champion, comes in ranked No. 77, and Tawa had this to say about the Lions from Tacoma:
The Courtney Schwan era is over at Bellarmine. The physical outside hitter started four years and won the Gatorade award her junior and senior years, both of which ended in state championships for the Lions. Two other starters have also graduated for coach Jody DeGroot’s team, including libero Julia Wright. Her loss may prove even more damaging this year, because the Lions have terrific scorers back in senior outside Rehgan Pukis and middles Claire Martin and Megan Jacobsen but serious questions in the back row. Sophomore Claire McCarthy, who also hits, may be the answer in the contrasting jersey. There also is another Schwan, 5-9 sophomore outside McKenzie Schwan, to throw into the mix. Oh, if you’re worrying about Bellarmine’s setting, don’t. Senior Natalie Jensen, who recently committed to Idaho, is one of the state’s best. She is a great defender and fiery leader.
You can find the complete list of the Century Club (top-100) rankings at PrepVolleyball.com. It’s a pay site ($29.95 per year), but well worth it in my opinion. This is the 15th season of the rankings and PrepVolleyball.com is the only entity that travels year-round covering the sport, according to Tawa.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on who should be in Washington’s top-10 in each of the top three classifications — 4A, 3A and 2A.