Staff photo by Vinny Tennis Octorara’s Tamara Miller center goes up to block against Downingtown West in Downingtown on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013.
Staff photo by Vinny Tennis Octorara's Tamara Miller center goes up to block against Downingtown West in Downingtown on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. (Vinny Tennis)

CHES-MONT LEAGUE

AVON GROVEHead coach: Marouane Jafir

Key players: Julia Crabtree, outside hitter; Lizzy Neils, outside hitter; Jane McCann, middle blocker; Elanor Schultz, outside hitter/setter; Allisoin Raff, right side; Sarah McCann, outside hitter; Carly Banter, libero.

Outlook: Avon Grove has already established itself as one of the top teams in the Ches-Mont League this season. The Red Devils opened with an undefeated run to the team title at the Plymouth Whitemarsh and then took league favorite Downingtown East to five sets before losing in overtime.

BISHOP SHANAHANHead coach: Greg Ashman

Key players: Haley Kleespies, setter; Lauren Godshalk, middle hitter; Sam Nagy, libero; Rita Shultz, outside hitter; Katie Lenhemu, outside hitter; Katie Quinlan, middle hitter; Chloee Kleespies, outside hitter.

Outlook: After enjoying two excellent seasons back-to-back, Shanahan got rocked by graduation back in May. "We're young,' said Eagles' coach Greg Ashman. "Everyone graduated. We graduated eight varsity players and seven of them were starters. But, I would say that we're reloading rather than rebuilding.'

COATESVILLEHead coach: Bill Gray

Key players: Samantha Wilson, middle hitter; Jacqueline Walsch, setter; Nicole Gray, outside hitter.

Outlook: "We're a young team,' said Gray. "We have a very young base. In a tournament the other day, we had three freshmen on the court at the same time. We're also a very short team. Our best hitter is Nicole Gray and she's only 5-1. But, we're very good defensively. Our defense is going to carry us.'


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DOWNINGTOWN EASTHead coach: Peggy Hopton

Key players: Caroline Ambrogi, outside hitter; Cassidy Kenny, middle blocker; Caroline Layden, middle blocker; Allison Alicea, opposite/libero; Rachael Graham, Lauren Mueller, Sarah Goncharoff.

Outlook: The Cougars finished 13-1 in the Ches-Mont and 18-5 overall, added a runner-up finish in the District 1 Class AAA playoffs and made it to the quarterfinals in the state tournament. And, Tori Wakelee was the only starter who graduated.

Led by fiery outside hitter Ambrogi, East will be a hard team to beat this season.

"We're a good ball control team,' said Hopton. "Our players are really athletic. And, we're an excellent defensive team.'

DOWNINGTOWN WEST

Head coach: Dave Parrish

Key players: Gabby Guerrera, middle hitter; Kacey Feairheller, outside hitter; Lauren Siddal, libero; Maddie Cichewicz, middle hitter; Sarah Schneider, outside hitter; Emily Ahern, setter; Sophie Gelling, middle hitter.

Outlook: The Whippets had an experienced team last year -- a veteran team that was hit hard by graduation. West has some experienced players, including senior outside hitter Kacey Feairheller, but there will be a lot of new faces in the line-up.

"West looks to be in the middle of the pack in Ches-Mont,' said Parrish. "But, we could surprise some teams if we can stay healthy and out young players develop as expected. We're hoping to return to District playoff. And, keep an eye on freshman right side/middle hitter Sophie Gelling.'

GREAT VALLEY

Head coach: Samuel Ellis

Key players: Brianna Farrelly, Hanna Gal, Ashley McGee, Rachel Malley

Outlook: For the fourth season in a row, the Patriots are entering the season with a new head coach. Fortunately, some continuity is provided by returning assistant coach Rayne Christen, whose now-graduated daughter Aspen was a standout on last year's squad.

"This is a new season with a fresh start,' said Ellis, who is an Elementary Health and Physical Education in the Great Valley School District. "We are looking to be a competitive team as we continue to grow.

KENNETTHead coach: Rob Smith

Key players: Alex Gleason, McKenna Coyle, Dee Lovell

Outlook: The Blue Demons were only able to log three wins two years ago and last year more than doubled that total with a 7-13 overall record. This year, Kennett has a new coach and a new attitude. "I think our outlook is very good,' said Smith. "We're looking for a 10-10 season or better.'

OCTORARAHead coach: John Regener

Key players: Lindsay Wilde, setter/outside hitter; Miranda Kauffman, libero; Reina Eckman, hitter.

Outlook: "Last year, we were 17-10 overall and won two tournaments,' said Regener. "We have five returning players from last year and we're ready to have another great season this year.

OXFORDHead coach: Jack Lindsey

Key players: Jenna Krivansky, setter; Mariah Jardine, libero: Heather Homola, hitter; Kelly Bolton, hitter: Kelsey Wetzel, hitter; Melanie Kempf, middle; Hanna McComsey, hitter.

Outlook: "After several seasons of coming up short, the Oxford Area High School Varsity Volleyball team is preparing to take the 2013 season in stride with a new coach, an innovative attitude and tons of potential,' said first-year coach Lindsey. "The team's seniors have been playing together for six consecutive years. Their family bond and team dynamic has never been better.'

UNIONVILLEHead coach: Rob Conti-D'Antonio

Key players: Alex Baptiste, middle blocker; Becky Baptiste, middle blocker; Maddie Malone, outside hitter/libero; Sydney Salle, outside hitter.

Outlook: After winning the Ches-Mont League American Division five years in a row, Unionville's very young squad was unable to push the streak to six. This year, the Indians are poised to ascend to the higher heights again.

"We're looking to improve on last year,' said Conti-D'Antonio. "We lost one player to graduation and one to season ending injury but we have many key players back. The team has more skill and leadership than last year and is looking to compete for the division championship.'

W.C. EASTHead coach: Jim Virgilio

Key players: Taylor Kulp, setter; Carly Shortridge, libero

Outlook: The Vikings lost a lot to graduation and will have to work hard to log wins in a very tough league.

"This is going to be a growing year for East volleyball,' said Virgilio. "We graduated five starting varsity players last season. This has allowed the opportunity for our young and up-and-coming stars to step up.'

W.C. HENDERSONHead coach: Greta Neff

Key players: Victoria Dennis, libero; Hailey Adler, hitter; Gwyneth Perisse, hitter

Outlook: The Warriors faced a serious rebuilding season, met the challenge head-on and finished with a winning record.

Neff's pre-season assessment of her team this time last year was -- "Very young.' This year, she listed her team's outlook as "Looking to bulid on last year's success.'

W.C. RUSTINHead coach: Toni Woodward

Key players: Adashia Franklin, middle hitter; Brittany Fichter, setter; Amanda Fichter, libero; Valentina Mattera, outside hitter.

Outlook: "Although the Knights have been through a change of coaching staff and have graduated some big name seniors, the team is ready to compete and look forward to being a part of the new era in Rustin Volleyball,' said first-year coach Toni Woodward. "Returning senior middle hitter Adaisha Franklin is helping control the front row and last year's libero Brittany Fichter is taking on the new role as setter with confidence.'

OTHER LEAGUES

CONESTOGAHead coach: Diana Felker

Key players: Nicki Lindsay, Liz Lawton, Chase Hinterleiter

Outlook: The Pioneers has a core of strong returning players last year and that translated into a very respectable .625 winning percentage. This year's team is inexperienced and will face a real challenge in trying to match last season's record.

"We have many young players who will need to step for us to have a successful season,' said Felker.

VILLA MARIAHead coach: Joe Boland

Key players: Allie Wisniewski, middle hitter; Shae Murphy, libero; Elle Salinas, outside hitter; Danielle Hillman, middle hitter; Katherine Miller, setter; Kaleigh Oates, outside hitter.

Outlook: The Hurricanes reclaimed the top spot in the AACA (Athletic Association of Catholic Academies) last year after a few years without a title and then went on to place second in the District 1 Class AA tournament. They have six starters from that team back for the 2013 campaign.

"We should contend for AACA championship along with Mt. St. Joseph, Merion Mercy, Gwynedd-Mercy and St. Basil,' said Boland. "We also hope to challenge defending District 1 champion Pope John Paul II.'

WESTTOWNHead coach: Samantha Jordan

Key players: Annika Cole, outside hitter; Mercedes Horton, libero

Outlook: "As a more seasoned team, Westtown has the leadership of eight seniors this fall,' said Jordan. "Already in preseason we've seen many bright notes of hard work, team cohesion and in-system play. With an athletic front line, we look to our offense this year to set the pace of the game. It is shaping up to be a great year for Westtown volleyball.'