the poll

August 30, 2006

1. Centennial

Last season: 19-1, ranked No. 1

A strong returning nucleus led by All-Metro hitter Michelle Grosso should enable new coach Jerry Hulla to continue the tradition of the area's top program.

2. Dulaney

Last season: 18-1, No. 5

Three 6-footers, including 6-2 Danielle Parker, and team chemistry make the Lions the top team in Baltimore County.

3. Liberty

Last season: 17-2, No. 3

Coach Dave Trumbo said he has "five players who can really hit," led by Melissa Stansbury, as his Lions go after an eighth straight county title and sixth straight appearance in the state tournament.

4. Glenelg

Last season: 17-3, No. 2

The defending Class 2A state champion Gladiators are rebuilding, but coach Don Beall is optimistic they will mature in time for another postseason run.

5. Broadneck

Last season: 15-4, No. 4

Coach Romonzo Beans will try to juggle coaching the talented Bruins as well as the Anne Arundel Community College team.

6. Towson

Last season: 16-3, No. 6

Five seniors, including hitters Lauren Bader and Michelle Maas, make the Generals a contender in Baltimore County and potentially a Class 3A state tournament team.

7. River Hill

Last season: 11-5, No. 11

If the cast around the talented Jenny Li delivers its share, the Hawks should return to the upper level in Howard County.

8. Bel Air

Last season: 14-3, No. 9

Versatile setter Sarah Willey and 6-3 senior hitter Arlena Roland make the Bobcats a top Harford County team in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference.

9. St. Paul's

Last season: 16-2, No. 10

Sophomore Bailey Webster is expected to emerge as one of the premier hitters in the area, and the defending Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champions again should be a force.

10. Reservoir

Last season: 10-5, No. 12

How fast a good core of junior varsity players blend with the varsity members will determine how fast the Gators challenge the top teams in Howard County.

11. Atholton

Last season: 11-4, No. 7

The Raiders lost a couple of key hitters, but opposing coaches expect them to be back in the hunt in Howard County with some talented players from the junior varsity.

12. Severna Park

Last season: 10-6, No. 15

New coach Jamie Leventry inherits a good nucleus led by senior setter Jackie Sabins and a program that has had a constant influx of talent.

13. Fallston

Last season: 8-8, unranked

Hitters Lexy Fitzkee and Rachel Kuegler lead a Cougars team that figures to be among the best in Harford County.

14. Chapelgate

Last season: 10-6, unranked

The Jacobson sisters, 6-2 senior hitter Heather and 6-4 sophomore setter-hitter Tiffany lead the Yellow Jackets, who are expected to challenge St. Paul's in the IAAM A Conference.

15. Covenant C.S.

Last season: 12-6, unranked

Formerly known as CHEN, Covenant Community School has three outstanding players in the Rhein sisters, Amanda and Katie, both hitters, and freshman setter Lillie Happel.

Other teams considered: Bryn Mawr (14-7, unranked), Havre de Grace (12-3, unranked), Mount Hebron (10-6, unranked), South River (14-4, No. 8), Winters Mill (11-4, unranked)

2005 champions

State

Class 4A

Gaithersburg

Class 3A

Centennial

Class 2A

Glenelg

Class 1A

Williamsport

County/City

Anne Arundel

Broadneck

Baltimore City

Poly

Baltimore County

Dulaney

Carroll

Liberty

Howard

Centennial

UCBAC

North East-Cecil

IAAM

A Conference

St. Paul's

B Conference

Notre Dame Prep

C Conference

Oldfields

Multiple state titles

Centennial (12) Catonsville (7) Francis Scott Key (5) Severna Park (5) Glenelg (4) Mount Hebron (4) Broadneck (3) Loch Raven (3)

Mark your calendars

Tuesday -- Towson at River Hill, 5:30

Next Wednesday -- Havre de Grace at Bel Air, 5

Sept. 18 -- Dulaney at Severna Park, 6

Sept. 25 -- River Hill at Glenelg, 5:30

Oct. 12 -- Winters Mill at Liberty, 6

Oct. 16 -- Centennial at River Hill, 5:30

Oct. 17 -- Broadneck at Severna Park, 5

Oct. 18 -- Chapelgate at St. Paul's, 5:15

Oct. 19 -- Glenelg at Centennial, 7:30

Oct. 26 -- North Carroll at Liberty, 6

By the numbers

7

Times that Howard County teams claimed two state volleyball titles in the same season, including last year with Centennial (3A) and Glenelg (2A) winning.

15

State tournament appearances by Francis Scott Key, the most by an area team. Centennial and Severna Park have 14 each.

24

Seasons as head coach at South Carroll for Debbie Eaton, who retired after last season.

321

Total kills in 62 games by Seton Keough All-Metro hitter Kelsey Lyle last season as a junior.

players to watch

Michelle Grosso

Centennial, hitter

A returning All-Metro hitter, the 5-foot-11 senior averaged 2.2 kills per game and served 92 percent last season while gaining a reputation as a big-game player.

Heather Jacobson

Chapelgate, hitter

This 6-2 power hitter started her high school career with River Hill before transferring to Chapelgate, where she averaged 2.2 kills, 2.4 digs and served 90 percent as a junior last year for the upstart team.

Kelsey Lisle

Seton Keough, hitter

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