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DREW A. KELLEY , CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Mater Dei's Shannon Scully, left, helped the Monarchs win the CIF-SS Division 1AA title last season. She is one of four returning seniors for the Monarchs.

Girls volleyball preview: O.C. top 10

STAFF WRITER

OC Varsity’s season-opening O.C. top 10.

O.C. TOP 10

1. Mater Dei: The Monarchs always seem to have the perfect mix of senior leadership and talented underclassmen, and this year is no different. First-team All-County outside hitter Shannon Scully is one of four seniors on the roster. There were many underclassmen that played pivotal roles while the team won the CIF-SS Division 1AA title last year, setting up the Monarchs for what should be another strong season.

2. Santa Margarita: Is this the year the Eagles put it all together? They return an extremely strong nucleus that has been together for at least three years. Last season they suffered a disappointing loss in the quarterfinals, but with Meghan McClure and Devon Chang leading the way, a run to the CIF finals isn’t out of their reach.

3. Huntington Beach: The Oilers advanced to the Division 1AA semifinals last season and return five starters, including four-year starters Camryn Sanchez and Ashley Stevens. Coach Craig Pazanti expects the team to be strong in ball control and on defense. This is the team to beat in the Sunset League and should make noise in the CIF playoffs.

4. Edison: The Chargers gained valuable experience last year, as they finished second in the Sunset League. With a group of juniors and seniors leading the way this year, Edison should be in contention for the league title and playoff success.

5. Orange Lutheran: The Lancers will be an interesting team to watch this season. Coach Andrew Mabry has several three-year starters back, led by seniors Kaylie Milton and Olivia Root. The Lancers will compete in Division 2 this season due to changes in the playoff groupings. If they’re able to survive the tough play in the Trinity League, they could make a serious run at a CIF title.

6. Los Alamitos: Coach Dave Huber believes the team will be served well by its versatility. Huber also likes the leadership and personality of the team, which has seniors Mackenzie Smith and Nicole Elder leading the way. Los Alamitos figures to be in the mix in the Sunset League race.

7. Corona del Mar: The Sea Kings will be a work in progress in the early weeks as they try to find a way to replace three standouts on last year’s team, Jessie Harris, Natalia Bruening and Payton Carter. Ashley Humphreys and Kendall Kipp are ready to step into larger roles and should have CdM ready to defend its Pacific Coast League title and contend in the CIF playoffs.

8. San Juan Hills: There is a lot of excitement surrounding the Stallions, and for good reason. Senior Madi Mercer was on the preseason Prep Volleyball All-American Watch List. Junior outside hitter Katie Lukes will be a key to the offense, along with setters Mikayla Arimura and Casi Newman. Coach Jessica Papell believes she has a team that’s going to get better throughout the season.

9. Esperanza: The Aztecs are looking to make a jump with an experienced returning group of players. Coach Isaac Owens has five starters returning, including a trio of three-year starters. The Aztecs are a team to watch in Division 2.

10. Aliso Niguel: The Wolverines are a couple of years removed from winning their first CIF title, but Coach DP Butler has what he labels “the hardest working team, with lots of heart and talent.” The Wolverines should be part of an interesting title race in the South Coast League.

On the bubble: Beckman, Trabuco Hills, Woodbridge, El Dorado, JSerra, Sage Hill.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW

Contact the writer: dcalhoun@scng.com


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