Graham, coming off a top-of-the-table finish in the Central Buckeye Conference’s Mad River Division, will look to have a strong season behind a veteran starting rotation.
“We’ve been working really hard this summer,” GHS Coach Gaye Carafa said. “With this team, they’ve been playing together for a while now. They just bring a unique chemistry.”
Returning senior Lauren Holcomb will be joined by juniors Katie Milligan, Molly Hamilton and Kaitlin Trace, as well as sophomore Carly Carafa.
Carafa earned CBC First Team honors last season while leading the division in attacking. Milligan was also a top-five attacker, while Hamilton found herself near the top of the league as well.
Trace and Milligan merge to create a formidable wall up front, with both players finishing with 53 blocks – good for third in the division – last season.
“The past few years, we’ve been even with a few teams in the area,” Coach Carafa said. “And the CBC conference is getting stronger every year.”
Urbana will rely on a seasoned squad without a lot of varsity experience. Seniors Macy Pierce, Kaelyn Bertsch, Mckenzee Martin, Katy Curnutte and Natalie Seeberg will anchor the Hillclimbers. Juniors Hunter Rogan, Bridget Ofori, Karsen Voorhees and Olivia Dunham add some athleticism and talent while 5-foot-10 sophomore Kimberly Asper joins the crew.
Only Rogan, a CBC First Team selection in 2014, earned conference accolades last season.
The Hillclimbers finished 7-3 in the division last year, despite an overall record of 10-12.
Triad is looking to make a run at an OHC title with a talented group of returning players.
Bailey Printz, Alyssa Eaton, Jenna Ober and Lydia Walls bring strong senior leadership to the squad. Adding in returners Ali Dixon and Madison Dolby make the team deep with talent.
Triad Coach Addie Dixon also expects newcomers Brianna Eaton, Caleigh Phelps and Kayleigh Rice to contribute.
“Our expectations and goals are to compete at the top of the OHC,” Coach Dixon said. “We have the talent and drive. We have to be able to put the ball down when we have the opportunity and be able to finish sets.”
Mechanicsburg will try to string together some new talent with the existing stars to make a push.
Katie Bush is back as the team’s setter, as is middle hitter Mary Mayo. Freshman Emma Dunham is a 6-1 presence that Coach Kassie Coffman will rely on for blocks.
“We’ve moved three freshmen up (to varsity),” Coffman said. “I’m excited to see where it goes. I’m just as anxious as everyone else.”
Coffman said this year’s edition of the Indians has a lot of size and could surprise some people. She wants to try to win a league title.
“There’s a lot of good schools in the league,” she said. “But I don’t like to set my bar low.”
West Liberty-Salem has quite a bit of size and experience and could also make some noise in the OHC.
Tiger captains Jamie Peterson and Kylie Gilroy are joined by fellow returners Taylor LeVan, Abbie Stewart, Olivia Ames and Emily Schultz. Adding to the blend will be new sophomore Tori Cordell and freshman Kaylee Harrison.
“They work really well together,” WL-S Coach Rebecca Macy said. “All of them play together really well and get along really well.”
Macy said she wants to advance to at least the district tournament with this group and claim a league title.
“We just have a deeper bench this year. And they’re all competitive, so they’ll push each other.”
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.