Coach: Bonnie Bollmer (first season)
Last season: 6-16 (Lost to Scott Co. in district)
Top players: Venus Ross (jr.); Shelby McLean (fr.); Kayla Sheehan (fr.); Tyran Chenault (so.); Lexi Richardson (jr.), Mackie Owens (jr.).
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Outlook: The Defenders are young, with just two seniors. But Bollmer is optimistic and said she has seen her team mature over the summer with open gyms. "We're hoping to make it to state," Bollmer said. She said the team's strengths lie in its offense. "We have some pretty strong outside hitters."
Aug. 20—Tates Creek; 22—Woodford Co.; 23-24—at Boyle Co. Invitational; 26— Harrison Co.; 27—Scott Co.; 29—at Western Hills; 30-31—at Lafayette tournament.
Sept. 3—Lexington Christian; 5—at Lafayette; 6-7—Queens of the Court at Central Hardin; 9—at Henry Clay; 10—Bourbon Co.; 13-14—at Woodford Co. Invitational; 19—at Madison Southern; 24—Henry Clay; 26—at Scott Co..
Oct. 8—East Jessamine; 10—at Dunbar; 15—at Pulaski Co.
Coach: Dale Grupe (16th season)
Last season: 25-17 (Lost to eventual champ Assumption in state semifinals)
Top players: Elle Barnett (sr.); Calayci Coffey (jr.); Hallie Shelton (fr.).
Outlook: The Devils' have a tough schedule, playing several of the top 15 teams in the state. And although the team has made it to at least the state quarterfinals the past two years, Grupe is not overlooking the regional competition. "We definitely have the third-toughest region out of the 16," Grupe said. The team's depth and experience will help them throughout the season. "I think it's my deepest team in all my years of coaching," Grupe said.
Aug. 22—Tri-match at Mother of Mercy (Ohio) with Newport Catholic Central; 27—at Lexington Catholic; 29—at Lexington Christian; 30-31—at Lafayette tournament.
Sept. 3—at Scott Co.; 9—Bryan Station; 10—Dunbar; 13-14—at Effingham (Ill.) Crossroads Classic; 17—at Woodford County; 21—at Miami (Ohio) East Tournament; 24—at Bryan Station; 26—at Tates Creek; 30—at Assumption.
Oct. 1—Scott Co.; 4-5—Asics Challenge at Mother McAuley (Ill.); 8—Lafayette; 17—at St. Henry; 19—Tri-match with McCracken Co. and Ryle.
Coach: Chris Langston (20th season)
Last season: 24-8 (lost to Tates Creek in district)
Top players: Morgan Allen (sr.); Chandler Kendley (sr.); Morgan Johnson (sr.)
Outlook: After graduating six players last year Lafayette fields a young team. "We're kind of starting over," Langston said. "We have to figure out who we are." But Langston is confident that Lafayette will be one of the state's stronger teams. "I think we can be one of the top teams in the state. I don't know if we're gonna start that way, but I know that we will finish that way."
Aug. 24—at KVCA Challenge; 30-31—Lafayette tournament.
Sept. 5—Bryan Station; 10—Lexington Catholic; 11—at Ryle; 13-14—Thoroughbred Smash at Kentucky Basketball Academy; 18—Beechwood; 19—at Dunbar; 21—at Oak Hill Tournament; 24—Louisville Christian; 25—Woodford Co.; 27-28—at Siegel (Tenn.) tournament.
Oct. 1—Tates Creek; 3—at Lexington Christian; 8—at Henry Clay; 10—Madison Central; 15—Wayne Co.; 17—at Highlands.
Coach: Ashley Federle (first season)
Last season: 9-27 (lost to Paul Laurence Dunbar in district)
Top players: Olivia Carter (sr.), Catherine Young (sr.), Samantha Thomas (sr.), Olivia Bodart (jr.), Abby James (jr.).
Outlook: Federle comes in as a new coach and is excited to help the team improve from last year and build the program. The team is led by three seniors, Olivia Carter, Samantha Thomas and Catherine Young. "They've really stepped up," Federle said. The coach said the team is working well with her as their new leader. "They believe in what we're trying to do," Federle said.
Aug. 19—at Oldham Co.; 27—Henry Clay; 30-31—at Bluegrass Invitational.
Sept. 3—at South Oldham; 5—North Oldham; 10—at Lafayette; 13-14—Thoroughbred Smash at Kentucky Basketball Academy; 16—Lexington Christian; 17—at Scott Co.; 19—Tates Creek; 21—Tri-match at Clark Co. with Anderson Co.; 25—Franklin Co.; 27-28—at JCIVT.
Oct. 3—at Dunbar; 8—Madison Central; 10—Eastern; 17—Montgomery Co.
Coach: Teresa Ford (eighth season)
Last season: 13-12 (lost to Lexington Catholic in district)
Top players: Alli Evans (sr.); Jade Evanoff (jr.).
Outlook: With only two returning seniors Lexington Christian is another young team in the city this season. But Ford is hopeful for a good season based on what she has seen so far. "If the season goes anything like camp and the practices, they're improving every day, I think that they will do well," Ford said. "They've made huge improvements moving forward." The team's strength lies in its front row with some strong hitters and middle blockers.
Aug. 22—Berea; 27—at Franklin Co.; 29—Henry Clay; 30-31—at Lafayette tournament.
Sept. 3—at Bryan Station; 5—at Tates Creek; 10—at Western Hills; 12—at Madison; 14—at All "A" state tournament; 16—at Lexington Catholic 17—Harrison Co.; 19—Scott Co.; 24—Dunbar; 26— at Woodford Co.
Oct. 1—at East Jessamine; Oct. 3—Lafayette; 7—Clark Co.; 15—West Jessamine.
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Coach: Jenni Morgan (ninth season)
Last season: 30-8 (Lost to Henry Clay in region semifinals)
Top players: Hope Gassett (sr.); Alyssa Gatewood (sr.); Alyson Hatfield (sr.); Sydney Jones (sr.); Alyssa Molden (sr.); Jenna Mulert (sr.).
Outlook: Last year, the team turned around after a 15-19 record the year before. This year, Morgan thinks the team will do well with plenty of new faces to go along with seven returning seniors.
Morgan said offense will carry Dunbar this year and that they will be strong because they have athletes who can play multiple positions.
Aug. 20—Ryle; 22—South Oldham; 29—at Male.
Sept. 3—Eastern; 6—at LVIT; 10—at Henry Clay; 17—at Tates Creek; 19—Lafayette; 20—Brentwood (Tenn.) Invitational Volleyball Tournament; 24—at Lexington Christian.
Oct. 1—at St. Henry; 3—Lexington Catholic; 4—Midwest Challenge vs. TBA; 8—at Presentation; 10— Bryan Station; 15—Woodford Co.
Coach: Sara Chaffin (second season)
Last season: 30-8 (lost to Henry Clay in region finals)
Top players: Haylee Summers (sr.); Kendall Beerman (jr.); Macy Reihing (fr.).
Outlook: Last year was the team's best finish since 2005, and Chaffin is looking for continued improvement. "I look for us to be even stronger than last year," Chaffin said. Already impressed with her team's work ethic, Chaffin said her team's strength lies in its offense. "We're definitely a hard-hitting team," Chaffin said. She also expects her team to be strong in its passing, which has improved throughout the pre-season.
Aug. 20—at Bryan Station; 22—Scott Co.; 24—KVCA Tournament at Mid-America Sports Center in Louisville; 27—at Campbell Co..
Sept. 3—at Louisville Christian; 5—Lexington Christian; 7—at Barr-Reeve Invitational; 10—Woodford Co.; 12—at Newport Central Catholic; 17—Dunbar; 19—at Lexington Catholic; 20—Cake Classic at Highlands; 25—at Ryle; 26—Henry Clay; 28—at Woodford Co. Tournament.
Oct. 1—at Lafayette; 3—at Male; 4—Midwest Challenge at Dunbar; 9—Boone Co.; 12—Tri-Match at Central Hardin with Lone Oak; 15—at North Oldham; 17—South Oldham.