COACH: Bob Ferguson, eighth season
LAST SEASON: 18-3
OUTLOOK: After they won the CIF Southern Section Division II title last year--their fourth championship in six years--the Highlanders and the Marmonte League were moved up to Division I. Their division may have changed, but the Highlanders' talent level remains the same. All-Southern Section middle blocker Eric Carlsen returns with his 6-5 height and 38-inch vertical leap. Outside hitters Scott Hambly (6-2) and Dan Rizzo (6-1), both second-team All-Southern Section, round out a fearsome threesome. The Highlanders also mix in a good deal of youth with sophomores Mark Chaffee, Jimmy Bonelli and John Baxter. The challenge for the Highlanders: Repeat the feat at a higher level.
COACH: Jess Quiroz, fifth season
LAST SEASON: 16-3
OUTLOOK: Five starters are gone from last year's team, which lost to Huntington Beach in the Southern Section Division I quarterfinals. Unfortunately for Quiroz, one of them is Matt Sebree, who has traded in blocking and spiking for punting and kicking at Colorado. "We didn't really have anyone to back him up," said Quiroz. "We're talking about a whole new group of kids coming in." Quiroz does, however, still have talent. Jay Ingram (6-5), the Wolverines' lone returning starter, is a solid middle blocker. Swing hitters Rick Rauth (6-2) and Trevor Julian (6-4) will also produce for the Wolverines.
COACH: James Park, fifth season
LAST SEASON: 16-2
OUTLOOK: Outside hitter David Grimm (6-3) spearheads the charge to stop Royal from a seventh consecutive Marmonte League title. Grimm looks to be the kill leader and heads a well-balanced attack for the Lancers, who lost to Highland in the Southern Section Division II semifinals last season and have since moved up to Division I. Four seniors provide leadership: Outside hitters Mike Friel (6-1) and Brian Callahan (6-1) and middle blockers Sam Parmelee (6-3) and Jeff Nowak (6-2).
COACH: Tom Harp, 10th season
LAST SEASON: 15-2
OUTLOOK: The return of outside hitters Earnest Yun (6-3) and Ryan Kamins (6-2) is the good news for the Highlanders, who lost in the City Section 4-A final to University last year. The bad news: All-everything outside hitter Mike DiSimone graduated and 6-6 middle blocker Mike Whitmore transferred to Kennedy. Hitter Chad Hess (6-1) and setter Don Puathasnanon (6-3) round out what is still a solid line-up.
COACH: Jamie Quaglino, fourth season
LAST SEASON: 15-5
OUTLOOK: Middle blocker Tim Nelson (6-3), outside hitter Darin Bell (5-11) and setter Charles Zufelt form the nucleus for the Indians, who depend on five juniors and two seniors. The youth, however, benefits the Indians. "I don't have to push them," said Quaglino. "They show up. They practice. It's an easy job to do." If Chaminade transfer Bob Cromwell pans out at middle blocker, Quaglino's job will be that much easier.
COACH: Steve Berk, second year
LAST SEASON: 7-7
OUTLOOK: Every starter returns for the Bulldogs, who have a good mix of experience and youth. Middle blocker Cameron Ohl (6-4) and outside hitter Zack Coil (6-4) are seniors. Sophomore outside hitter Matt Prosser (6-4) and junior setter Aaron Golberg will contribute after producing at the junior varsity level. Ohl and middle blocker Ben Quistad (6-4) give the Bulldogs a one-two combination up front. "Our middle is extremely strong," said Berk. "Teams try to stop us there and haven't been able to."
COACH: Steve Levoe, fourth year
LAST SEASON: 15-3
OUTLOOK: Height is a nice attribute in volleyball. That's why the Crusaders should be a decent team. Outside hitters David Ludwig (6-5) and Chad Hanson (6-3) and middle blocker Kurt Sorensen (6-5) are seniors, another plus. The Crusaders advanced to the Southern Section Division III quarterfinals without Ludwig, who broke his arm in the fifth match last season. Ludwig's back, as are Village Christian's Division III title hopes.
COACH: Tim Jensen, fifth year
LAST SEASON: 16-4
OUTLOOK: Last year the Vikings compiled a solid regular-season resume, only to be bounced in the first round of the Southern Section Division III playoffs. The return of hitter Eric Hassan (6-4) and middle blocker Dylan Herrick (6-5) should ensure a better showing in the postseason.