High School Volleyball Preview
BY JOSH HALEY World Correspondent
Thursday, August 30, 2012
8/30/12 at 5:09 AM
Traditional powers have flexed their muscles, and new contenders have arrived. Things to keep an eye on this season:
1. Can anyone beat Bishop Kelley in the postseason?
The answer for the past five years has been no. However, in the most recent rankings, Edmond Memorial was ranked ahead of the Comets. That should change when the new rankings are released, considering Bishop Kelley went on the road this week to take down Edmond Memorial in straight sets. "To repeat as champions, we must realize our potential and find the legacy that we will leave," said Bishop Kelley head coach Jerri Berna.
2. Will Cascia Hall win two straight?
Cascia Hall's championship run a season ago was done in the most dramatic fashion possible by going the maximum five sets. If anything, it just proves how mentally strong Jenny Duncan's team is. The Commandos are 11-5 and rank third in Class 5A but have proven they're at their best when the postseason rolls around.
3. Can BTW end its title drought?
The Hornets' only state championship came in 1976, but this year's squad is a definite threat to end the long wait. Ranked second in Class 5A, Booker T. Washington took down defending state-champion Cascia Hall in four sets to get everyone's attention. "We have to make sure that we're constantly getting better," said head coach Darrell Pearson. The Hornets' recent loss to Class 5A No. 1 Heritage Hall was respectable but proves they have work to do before the postseason arrives.
4. Is Union a contender to win its first state title?
The powerhouse squads that Bishop Kelley and the Edmond schools have built certainly make it a tall task for a new threat to arise in Class 6A. What No. 4 Union has done so far this season, however, cannot be overlooked. At 7-2, the Redskins have respectable wins over No. 5 Edmond Santa Fe and No. 6 Broken Arrow. The two losses have come to current No. 1 Edmond Memorial and No. 3 Edmond North. Union's biggest matches of the season perhaps will take place Thursday when it takes on Bishop Kelley and Edmond North.
5. Which other area teams could contend for a title?
Broken Arrow, 6A: The Tigers are ranked sixth in Class 6A thanks to top-10 wins over Jenks and Stillwater and should be a contender for a state tournament spot.
Lincoln Christian, 5A: After winning their first state title last year, the Bulldogs are now in Class 5A. At 10-6, they are ranked No. 6 thanks to top-10 victories over Oklahoma Bible and Collinsville.
Verdigris, 4A: The Cardinals are 10-4 and ranked fourth in class 4A. Lonnell Clark-Shew's group showed they can play with bigger schools by defeating a solid Collinsville team ranked in the top 10 in 5A.
Regent Prep, 2A (Oklahoma Christian Schools Athletic Association): The Rams have instilled their dominance in Class 2A and will be seeking their third straight title.
Five area players to watch
Liesl Spoerl, Cascia Hall: Senior middle blocker registered nearly 400 kills during the Commandos' state title run a season ago while being named state tournament co-MVP.
Jaime Rahilly, Cascia Hall: Senior middle blocker returns to help the Commandos defend their state title, where she was named co-MVP of the state tournament.
Claire Kelley, Bishop Kelley: Senior setter is a four-year starter seeking fourth state championship and was a first-team All-Metro selection in 2011.
Stacia Payne, Verdigris: Senior captain is a three-year starter and was named to the all tournament team in Sand Springs for the second straight year.
Abby Cachero, Broken Arrow: Senior libero is primed for a solid year after being named second team All-Metro in 2011.