Defending state champ Atholton headlines first poll of 2019; Anne Arundel and Howard dominate Top 15


by Katherine Dunn

After an impressive unbeaten run through Howard County and the Class 3A state playoffs last fall, Atholton High holds onto its final 2018 No. 1 ranking in the 2019 VSN Volleyball Preseason Top 20. The Raiders will find out quickly how they stack up with area’s other top contenders when they meet four Top 6 teams in the first three weeks of the season — No. 2 Broadneck, No. 3 Arundel, No. 5 Reservoir and No. 6 Glenelg.

Howard and Anne Arundel counties will be the prime locations for matches between top teams this fall as each has a handful of teams that could challenge for the county championship.

Here is the complete 2019 VSN Volleyball Preseason Top 20:

Pictured above: Kelsey Miller (front), Ryan Rorls and Chanelle Smith will try to guide Atholton to a second straight Class 3A state title this fall. The Raiders are No. 1 in VSN’s Volleyball Preseason Top 20 after going wire-to-wire in the top spot last year.

2019 VSN VOLLEYBALL PRESEASON TOP 20 POLL 

1. ATHOLTON RAIDERS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #1

2018 record: 19-0

Coach: Larry Schofield

Players to watch: Chanelle Smith, Sr., middle blocker; Ryan Rorls, Jr., outside hitter 

Rotation points: The defending state Class 3A champions from Howard County graduated the bulk of their starting lineup from one of the most dominant teams in area volleyball history, but what they lost in size, they make up for in quickness.

2. BROADNECK BRUINS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #12

2018 record: 13-4

Coach: Tracey Regalbuto

Players to watch: Makena Smith, Jr., setter; Emma Quandt, Sr., outside hitter

Rotation points: Regalbuto said this is the most talented team she’s coached in her seven years at the Anne Arundel County school with only two starters to replace and a wealth of other experienced returning players. 

3. ARUNDEL WILDCATS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #6

2018 record: 15-3

Coach: Ashley Yuscavage

Players to watch: Brooke Watts, Jr., outside hitter;  Aaliyah Griffin, Jr., outside hitter

Rotation points: The Wildcats graduated just two seniors but a lot of leadership as they reload to keep the pressure on in the Anne Arundel County league.

4. WESTMINSTER OWLS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #2

2018 record: 16-2

Coach: Evan Frock

Players to watch: Jilienne Widener, Sr., outside hitter; Emily Stauder, Sr., outside hitter

Rotation points: The Carroll County co-champion Owls bring back four starters from last season’s state Class 3A semifinalist team which should put them right back in the state title hunt.

5. RESERVOIR GATORS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: Not ranked

2018 record: 9-7

Coach: Carole Ferrante

Players to watch: Kayla Browne, Jr., middle blocker; Tatiana Hamilton, Sr., setter

Rotation points: With strong young talent to complement their five returning players and the return of Ferrante, who led them to the 2007 state Class 3A title, look for the Gators to rise quickly in Howard County.

 

6. MOUNT DE SALES ACADEMY SAILORS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #4

2018 record: 16-3

Coach: Gary Troy

Players to watch: Chidinma Onukwugha, Jr. middle blocker; Mary Grace Goyene, Jr., outside hitter

Rotation points: The two-time defending IAAM A Conference champions have plenty of firepower to repeat, although they are developing a new setter.

7. GLENELG GLADIATORS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #3

2018 record: 17-2

Coach: Jason Monjes

Players to watch: Maddie Myers., Sr., outside hitter; Alyssa Kelly, Jr., libero

Rotation points: The Gladiators, who return half of their starters from a team that reached the state Class 2A finals, should be stronger defensively and more balanced offensively as they introduce a new setter.

8. RISING SUN TIGERS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #7

2018 record: 15-3

Coach: Rich Wilson

Players to watch: Emily Jackson, Sr., setter/opposite-side hitter; Sophia Eckerd, Jr., outside hitter

Rotation points: The Tigers return three All-Cecil County players but are otherwise young and working to replace a four-year starting libero.

9. BEL AIR BOBCATS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #8

2018 record: 17-3

Coach: David Simon

Players to watch: Olivia Simon, Sr., setter; McKenna Reiswig, Sr. opposite

Rotation points: Coming off the first state volleyball final (3A) in school history last season, the Bobcats return a solid core of players to push Rising Sun in the UCBAC Chesapeake.

10. ST. PAUL’S SCHOOL GATORS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #14

2018 record: 15-4

Coach: Steven Fix

Players to watch: Abby Snyder, Sr., setter; Jalen Dickerson, Sr., outside hitter

Rotation points: After three straight IAAM A runners-up plaque, the Gators aim for their first title since 2013 with 10 veterans and six of seven starters returning.

11. SEVERNA PARK FALCONS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: Not ranked

2018 record: 8-8

Coach: Tim Dunbar

Players to watch: Skyler Sale, Sr., outside hitter; Sienna DiCicco, Jr., setter

Rotation points: The Falcons return only three girls with significant playing time last season, but they have talented youngsters to fill the void.

12. SOUTH RIVER SEAHAWKS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #5

2018 record: 16-3

Coach: Mo Carter

Players to watch: Ashlynn Burrows, Sr., middle blocker; Shannyn Mack, Sr., middle blocker

Rotation points: Returning just two players who saw a lot of court time, the Seahawks have strong underclassmen to complement them.

13. HEREFORD

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #9

2018 record: 16-4

Coach: Dave Schreiner

Players to watch: Emma Clark, Sr., setter; Cindy Parker, Jr., outside hitter

Rotation points: The defending Baltimore County champs will be more balanced with a deeper roster as they move to Class 3A after winning six straight regional titles in 2A.

14. CENTURY

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #17

2018 record: 10-7

Coach: Bryan Trumbo

Players to watch: Ali Whitworth, Sr. setter; Ally Everton, Sr., libero

Rotation points: The Knights have a solid core of seniors to help them continue to rank among the top teams in Carroll County.

15. POLY ENGINEERS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: Not ranked

2018 record: 17-1

Coach: Kendall Peace-Able

Players to watch: Courtney Roundtree, So., middle blocker; Janeal Homer, Jr., outside hitter

Rotation points: With half of their starters returning after a five-set regional final loss to Huntingtown, the Engineers should continue to dominate Baltimore City.

16. RIVER HILL HAWKS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: Not ranked

2018 record: 11-6

Coach: Lynn Paynter

Players to watch: Shannon Hill, Soph., outside hitter; Ellie Cirovski, Sr., libero

Rotation points: Another young team is poised to compete for a top spot in Howard County as the Hawks bring up a lot of promising youngsters to go with four returning seniors.

17. HOWARD

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #13

2018 record: 12-6

Coach: Allison Ose

Players to watch: Emma Marthins, Sr., middle blocker; Marisa Moore, Sr., outside hitter

Rotation points: The Lions aim to break into the top tier of a challenging Howard County race led by the power of their returning contingent.

18. PERRYVILLE PANTHERS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #18

2018 record: 12-5

Coach: Matt Borrelli

Players to watch: Jordan Carr, Sr., setter; Gracey Stevens, Sr., outside hitter

Rotation points: The Panthers suffered significant turnover and will rely on setting and serving as their newcomers gain experience.

19. CENTENNIAL EAGLES

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: Not ranked

2018 record: 11-9

Coach: Mike Bossom

Players to watch: Sarah Allen, Sr., outside hitter; Kayla Kellner, Sr., opposite hitter

Rotation points: The Eagles graduated just three seniors but remain young as they aim to jump into a heated Howard County race.

20. DULANEY LIONS

Final 2018 VSN Top 20 rank: #10

2018 record: 14-4

Coach: Cary Lyon

Players to watch: Amber Medina, Jr., outside hitter; Lisa Liu, Jr., outside/middle hitter

Rotation points: The youngest team Lyon has ever coached includes just two seniors but should remain one of the top teams in Baltimore County.