BURBANK — It was a historic season last year for the Burroughs High boys' volleyball team.
Not only did the Indians win a share of their first league championship, but the squad also rolled to its first win in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
That success has not been lost on Burroughs' peers in the division, as the Indians are ranked No. 1 in the Division III preseason poll.
"That's a little different for us," Burroughs Coach Joel Brinton said. "We're used to being the underdog, not one of the favorites. I don't know if we are that good now to be No. 2 in the division right now, but I think we have the potential to be that high up."
Joining the Indians, Providence and Bellarmine-Jefferson this season will be Burbank, which has started its program back up.
Here is a closer look at how the area teams are shaping up.
Behind a group of talented players, Burroughs (23-8) shared the Pacific League title last season with Claremont. The Indians went on to defeat Hart, 25-21, 25-22, 25-19, to win its first-round postseason match. In addition, the team also had an 11-match win streak during the season and won 19 of its final 21 matches.
The Indians return the core of that team this season.
"Our goal this season is to win the league championship for ourselves," Brinton said. "We have a good group of guys and we have some players who definitely have the experience."
Leading the way is senior setter Tyler Yanez. Yanez set school records for assists with 722 and blocks with 63 in 2010. He also had 68 kills and led the team with 28 aces. For his efforts, he was named to the a All-CIF third team, shared Pacific League Player of the Year honors and was the All-Area Player of the Year.
Joining his Tyler is his brother, Lucas, a senior outside hitter who earned all-league and All-Area accolades last season, setting school records in kills with 234 and digs with 220.
"Tyler and Lucas have been with the program for three years, and they know what we expect of them," Brinton said. "They will be our leaders."
Also returning are junior middles Robbie Rutecki and Ike Nwachie, senior libero Kevin Trejo, senior outside hitters Justin Llamas and Matt McGrady and sophomore opposite Daniel Jacobs.
Brinton said he expect Claremont to have a competitive team in the Pacific League.
The Pioneers are coming off a season in which they placed second in the Liberty League.
Pioneers' Coach Josh Eggleston said he will field a small squad with 10 players. Although the team lost some solid players to graduation, the coach said he is hoping some new athletes will step in and fill those spots.
"We did lose two starters," he said. "But I think we got some good replacements, and hopefully they will be able to fit in right away for us."
Returning are a pair of all-league players, junior middle Mario Adriano and senior outside hitter Chris Galvez, who should both help lead the team.
Joining the pair are senior middle Chester Bosworth, junior David Nardoni, who has been moved from libero to setter, junior Andrew Roxas, who will play on the right side and junior libero Jackson Saldana.
A newcomer who Eggleston is high on is sophomore transfer Phil Harvey, who will play on the left side.
"Phil has played club volleyball and he's just a good volleyball player," Eggleston said.
The coach said the toughest competition from the Liberty League should come from Viewpoint and Oakwood.
The Guards should have their share of experience this season. They will likely need a group of five seniors to step up and help get the team back on track after finishing last in the Santa Fe League a year ago.
"These guys have been through it before, and they know what to expect," Bell-Jeff Coach Miguel Segura said. "We only had one win in league last year, and I'm expecting us to do a lot better than that this year."
Leading the way should be junior middle Ignacio Cabrera and senior setter Eddie Villamor. Senior outside hitter Miguel Garcia has been with the program for four years and senior outside hitter Nico Africano could also make an impact.
Joining the Santa Fe League this season is Vista Mar of El Segundo.
"Again, Salesian should be the top team in league," Segura said. "But we're hoping to make the playoffs."
Patrick McMenamin is heading the new Bulldogs program. The school will field teams that will play on the sophomore-freshmen and junior varsity levels this season.
"We had 33 players come out for the program, so that's promising," McMenamin said. "We are going to wait and see how things go this season and then decide what we're going to do next year. Our one team will play mostly JV games, but we will play against some schools' varsity."
Key players for Burbank will be junior setter Josh Vignolles, junior outside hitter Connor Kramme and freshman outside hitter Matthew Daniel.