Brigsdale Falcons (1A)
Briggsdale is coming in this season to replace some of the key players from a year ago. But, if the Falcons can effectively fill those gaps, they will once again compete for the 1A state championship after being in the state semifinals a season ago.
Briggsdale went 24-5 this past season, but her best strikers, one of her best servers and her biggest blocker, were all seniors. The Falcons will be based on senior officer Peyton Niklas, who made 811 assists a year ago, and junior Gina Kress, who finished second on the team in kills (253) and first in digs (398).
Briggsdale opens its season in a tournament hosted by Sedgwick County on Saturday. The Falcons enter the season third in the 1A — behind last year’s champion, Merino, and runner-up, Fleming — in the CHSAANow.com rankings.
Days Spring Christian Eagles (2A)
Personally, Dayspring will look a lot different than the team that went 21-4 a season ago. Seven of the 11 players on that roster were seniors, including the leaders of Eagles in Kill, aces, blocks, digs and aides.
Among Dayspring’s most experienced returnees: high center hitter Aliya McClanahan is back after scoring 62 kills, 19 blocks and 67 holes in 64 combinations a year ago.
Despite their fresh and fresh faces, the Eagles opened the season 9th in the 2A by CHSAANow.com. They began their home campaign against the Loveland Classical on Thursday.
Northridge Grizzlies (3A)
Northridge will see if a top-level team allows him to jump forward from 8-14 a year ago.
The Grizzlies brought back their biggest attackers, the greats Andy Petersen (91 dead a year earlier) and Katie Jo Werner (70 killed). Werner also led the team in the pits (119), while Peterson finished second in the Aces (38) and the Pit (110).
Also returning from Northridge is Junior Cat Templeman, who ranked second on the team in making assists (121) and third in digs (83).
The Grizzlies open their season at home against Liberty Common at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Prairie Mustang (1A)
The Prairie will be looking to bounce back after having been 9-14 overall, 0-7 at the 1A North Central Conference a year ago.
The Mustang had one senior—and plenty of freshmen and sophomores—in last season’s lineup.
This one of the seniors was critical: Bobby Schreiner led the team on kills, blocks and digs.
However, Prairie expects to bring back plenty of talent, including Kaitlyn Sutter (203 passes, 129 holes, 33 aces), junior Kayla Kugler (93 kills, 9 blocks) and Kali Warboys (91 kills, 20 aces).
Mustangs open their season at 1 p.m. Saturday with a triangle against Holyoke and Idalia, in Holyoke.
Union Colony Timberwolves (2A)
The Union Colony will be looking for another strong season after hitting 17-8 a year ago and winning 13 of their last 15 games.
Timberwolves should replace notable seniors Kamryn Arnold and Cady Wood. But they should be well armed with a legion that includes Maria Glaspier, who was second on the team in kills behind Arnold a season ago, with a score of 173.
Glaspier also led the team in aces (46) and cubes (38) and finished second in the pits (233).
Despite the talent it lost out on a year ago, the Union Colony has a big and junior roster this fall.
Timberwolves opened their season on the road against Strasbourg on Saturday afternoon.
Bobby Fernandez covers high school sports for the Greeley Tribune. You can reach him at (970) 392-4478, via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @BobbyDFernandez.