For more news and notes about the top 50, see our addendum.
VolleyballMag.com’s 2019 national preseason high school rankings continue with teams 1 through 25.
We previously listed teams 26-50 and now unveil the top 25. Our rankings are not reflective of what has happened so far, as there has already been a few upsets among the top-ranked teams. Instead, it’s a guess as to where we see teams finishing up at the end of the season.
Picking the No. 1 team to start the year was a challenge.
The last couple of years there have been some powerhouse teams like Assumption of Kentucky and Walton of Georgia, but this year the top pack seems more closely bunched.
In the end, we stuck with the team that finished last year on top — Assumption. It’s not the most exciting pick, per se, but given what the Rockets did last year. They have two offensive forces coming back in Anna DeBeer and Rylee Rader. and have a history of not only producing terrific defensive teams, but winning ones as well. For that, the Rockets remain the team to beat until, well, they get beat.
Our coverage also includes News and Notes on the Top 50 here, with state-by-state breakdowns, teams that just missed the top 50, the “race to the finish line”, as well as a list of teams seeking redemption after 2018 state finals losses.
1. Assumption (Louisville, Kentucky)
Last year’s record: 43-0
Key players: Anna DeBeer, Sr OH; Rylee Rader, Jr MB; Savannah Neal, Sr Setter
Outlook: Yes, the Rockets graduate five starters from last year’s undefeated and undisputed national championship team. However, to think there is going to be much slippage would be mistaken. The thrust of what made the offense go last year is back in outside Anna DeBeer and middle Rylee Rader, who led Assumption in kills last year as a junior. Their senior leadership, combined with Savannah Neal taking on the setting duties, is going to have Assumption humming along on that side of the ball. And defensively, we know Assumption plugs in liberos one after one seamlessly. It’ll all keep Assumption in the conversation for best in the nation once more.
2. Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, California)
Last year’s record: 35-4
Key players: Kami Miner, Jr S; Nalani Iosia, Sr Lib; Mele-Corral Blagojevich, Fr OH; Laila Ricks, Sr RS/MB; Jody Smith, Jr MB; Jessie Szymanski, Jr MB
Outlook: Redondo Union couldn’t have anyone better setting and playing libero than with Kami Miner and Nalani Iosia, respectively. Having those type of players in those positions is going to make any team formidable. The Sea Hawks also have plenty of size across the front row between the middles and right side. Freshman Mele-Corral Blagojevich fills a big role, as she will be the scorer on the outside for Redondo. Though Redondo will be without Miner while she plays with the Youth National Team, by the end of the season Redondo should prove itself as good as anyone.
3. Plano West (Plano, Texas)
Last year’s record: 40-10
Key players: Iman Ndiaye, Sr RS; Jill Pressly, Sr OH; Noelle Piatas, Sr OH; Sydney Yap, Sr Setter; Morgan Carter, Jr L/DS; Lindsey Zhang, Jr L/DS
Outlook: A lineup loaded with club talent, Plano West might be the most complete roster in the country. Iman Ndiaye is a take-over-the-match force that can hit over any block. Jill Pressly and Noelle Piatas give the Wolves two reliable and experienced options on the outside. Toss in the setting and defense, when it’s all clicking there might not be any stopping Plano West.
4. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California)
Last year’s record: 43-2
Key players: Mia Tuaniga, Sr Setter; Meg Brown, Sr MB; Lauren Tarnoff, Jr RS; Reagan Merk, Sr OH
Outlook: Mater Dei will look much different from last season but one piece that remains the same is setter Mia Tuaniga. She is one of the best in the country and her ability to dish it is what’s going to keep Mater Dei in the fold this year as one of the best in the nation. Look for Meg Brown to play a key role in the middle, while Tuaniga also establishes a connection on the right side with Lauren Tarnoff. Reagan Merk was a steady six-rotation outside last year for the Monarchs and is a consistent passer.
5. New Castle (Indiana)
Last year’s record: 35-5
Key players: Melani Shaffmaster, Sr Setter; Mabrey Shaffmaster, Jr OH; Bailey Cox, Jr Libero
Outlook: The two-time defending 3A state champions are strong favorites to extend the streak another year thanks to the Shaffmasters. Melani is one of the top setters in the land and gets to feed an ever-improving younger sister in Mabrey. Together, they’ll have New Castle right in the mix for being the best in the country.
6. Byron Nelson (Trophy Club, Texas)
Last year’s record: 42-2
Key players: Paige Flickinger, Sr OH; Charitie Luper, Jr OH; Payton Chamberlain, Jr Setter
Outlook: Few players in the country contribute like Paige Flickinger does, as she led the Bobcats in kills and digs as a junior. She combines with Charitie Luper to give Byron Nelson one of the most potent outside duos in the nation. Byron Nelson looked to be on a mission for the 6A state title a season ago before being upended by Flower Mound in the Regional final. Byron Nelson is once again in the lead pack, both in the state of Texas and nationally, and will seek to end the season on a winning note this fall.
7. Mercy (Farmington Hills, Michigan)
Last year’s record: 54-2
Key players: Jess Mruzik, Sr OH; Julia Bishop, Jr Setter
Outlook: No doubt Jess Mruzik established herself as one of the best players in the country this past club season and once she’s back from her stint with the Youth National Team will help push Mercy towards its first state title. Also back is setter Julia Bishop and together they have Mercy set up for possibly the best season in school history.
8. Flower Mound (Texas)
Last year’s record: 42-7
Key players: Kaylee Cox, Jr OH; Angelique Cyr, Jr OH; Sarah Martinez, Sr Lib
Outlook: There’s no sneaking up on anyone this go around. A year ago, Flower Mound entered the season under the radar before going on to capture the 6A state title. It was an unbelievable run and this fall Flower Mound starts off as one of the favorites in the division. Though the Jaguars lost three starters, having Kaylee Cox and Angelique Cyr back on the outside should keep the offense chugging along. On the other side, Sarah Martinez, a senior, is back at libero and will provide a solid foundation defensively.
9. Skutt Catholic (Omaha, Nebraska)
Last year’s record: 30-7
Key players: Lindsay Krause, Jr OH; Allie Gray, Jr Setter; Megan Skovsende, Sr OH
Outlook: Skutt Catholic is chasing its fifth straight Class B state championship and has the returning parts to make the SkyHawks favored to do so. One is big-swinging outside Lindsay Krause. There is also familiarity at the setting spot with Allie Gray back, while Megan Skovsende gives the team some flexibility, as she started last year as an outside hitter and finished it as the libero.
10. Marist (Chicago, Illinois)
Last year’s record: 39-3
Key players: Camryn Hannah, 6-1 RS; Avery Jedry, Sr OH
Outlook: Last year, Marist became the first school to repeat as 4A state champions since 2011-12. Now, Marist can be the first to make it three in a row. It’s a daunting challenge, as Marist must replace a senior setter and will bring a new look along with it this year. The good news is Marist has a rare talent in Camryn Hannah, who can power any offense along at a high rate.
11. Torrey Pines (San Diego, California)
Last year’s record: 33-4
Key players: Carly Diehl, Sr Setter; Delaynie Maple, Sr OH; Maya Satchell, Sr OH; Cami Appiani, Sr Lib
Outlook: The names change but the Falcons have maintained their place among the country’s most consistent programs. This season figures to be no different. Though some key players graduate, those back more than likely will keep Torrey Pines near the top once more. Torrey Pines took home the CIF San Diego Section Open Division title in 2018 and qualified for the Open Division state tournament in the process. Having Carly Diehl back at setting is almost enough to keep Torrey Pines positioned to do the same, but she’ll have help with the likes of outsides Delaynie Maple and Maya Satchell.
12. Marymount (Los Angeles, California)
Last year’s record: 33-10
Key players: Elia Rubin, Soph OH; Kerry Keefe, Soph RS; Amara Aimufua, Sr MB/RS; Marisse Turner, Sr MB; Kelly Belardi, Fr Setter
Outlook: Last season, for the second year in a row, Marymount finished runner up to Mater Dei in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship match. Many players from the roster are back for Marymount, which plays a challenging schedule and is likely to take some early hits before gearing up for another postseason push. By the end, players like outside Elia Rubin and right side Kerry Keefe will have the Sailors fighting it out for the best in the state of California.
13. Sterling (Illinois)
Last year’s record: 41-1
Key players: Lexi Rodriguez, Jr Lib; Brooklyn Borum, Jr OH; Breelyn Borum, Jr S/RS
Outlook: Sterling is led by the Borum twins and libero Lexi Rodriguez. The trio spent this past club season winning a 16 Open gold medal at AAUs playing for SPVB 16 Elite. Sterling is coming off its 3A state championship last season and based on the players having another year under their belts, Sterling figures to be even better in 2019.
14. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, California)
Last year’s record: 28-8
Key players: Maddie Endsley, Sr OH; Lindsey Miller, Sr MB; Julia Blyashov, Fr OH
Outlook: There are lots of returning pieces for Cathedral Catholic, including firepower on the outside with Maddie Endsley plus the addition of freshman Julia Blyashov. The Dons have size and physicality to match up with anyone, including Lindsey Miller in the middle. It’ll come down to how well the team can pass and control the ball. If that part is there, the sky is the limit in 2019.
15. Providence (Clarksville, Indiana)
Last year’s record: 32-4
Key players: Ali Hornung, Jr OH; Courtney Glotzbach, Sr OH; Ceci Rush, Sr Lib
Outlook: It’s looking like Providence is the team to beat in 4A this fall. The Pioneers reached the semifinals the past two seasons but could be in store for a break through. Ali Hornung and Courtney Glotzbach are versatile players that contribute in a variety of ways and that’s valuable. Other pieces are in places as well, including Ceci Rush at libero.
16. Prosper (Texas)
Last year’s record: 36-10
Key players: Sami Jacobs, Jr OH; Nikki Steinheiser, Jr OH; Bailey Birmingham, Jr RS; Jazz Ford, Soph Setter; Taylor Youtsey, Jr MB; Shaylee Shore, Jr MB
Outlook: Four players — Sami Jacobs, Nikke Steinheiser, Bailey Birmingham and Taylor Youtsey — helped Skyline Jrs to a GJNC 16 Open bronze medal over the summer. Now, they combine to give Prosper a well-balanced lineup, one that should keep the Eagles among the top contenders in 6A this season.
17. Benet Academy (Lisle, Illinois)
Last year’s record: 36-6
Key players: Hattie Monson, Sr Lib; Rachel Muisenga, Jr Setter; Sophie Gregus, Sr OH
Outlook: A season ago Benet Academy lost in the 4A state semifinals to eventual champion Marist. With some incredible pieces returning, it’s looking like Benet and Marist could be on a collision course again. Hattie Monson gives Benet a steady backrow presence, while Rachel Muisenga figures to move to setter after spending last year hitting. Then with Sophie Gregus, the Redwings have someone who can score on the outside.
18. Eagan (Minnesota)
Last year’s record: 29-3
Key players: Christine Jurgens, Sr OH/MB; Kennedi Orr, Jr S/OH
Outlook: With Kennedi Orr, one of the top players in the country, on board Eagan is the 3A favorite when it comes to the state title race this fall. Eagan is no stranger to being in that position, having reached six straight finals. Last year, Eagan finished second and will use that as motivation as it tries to take care of unfinished business.
19. The Woodlands (Texas)
Last year’s record: 46-5
Key players: Dylan Maberry, Sr OH; Clara Bower, Jr Setter; Amanada Ifeanyi, Sr MB; Julieta Valdes, Fr OH
Outlook: It’s a solid group for the Highlanders this year. The question is can The Woodlands improve on last season’s showing, when it’s run ended in the regional semifinal to Plano West? Setter Clara Bower has some nice options at her disposal, including Dylan Maberry on the outside, as well as up-and-coming rookie Julieta Valdes.
20. Cedar Falls (Iowa)
Last year’s record: 44-1
Key players: Akacia Brown, Sr OH; Alayna Yates, Sr MB; Kirsten Graves, Sr Lib
Outlook: Few teams are supplied with the motivation that Cedar Falls is. A year ago, the Tigers made it all the way to the 5A state final before experiencing their first and only loss. Among those back to help Cedar Falls reach the top this season are outside Akacia Brown, middle Alayna Yates and libero Kirsten Graves. Brown is a terminal outside, while Yates brings lots of size in the middle.
21. Grand Rapids Christian (Michigan)
Last year’s record: 43-5
Key players: Addie VanderWeide, Jr OH; Jordyn Gates, Sr Setter
Outlook: A year after winning its first state championship Christian is set up nicely to make a charge at repeating in Division 2. Christian loses two starters but has two terrific players back in Addie VanderWeide and Jordyn Gates to build around in attempts of making another run to the state title.
22. Lovejoy (Lucas, Texas)
Last year’s record: 47-7
Key players: Averi Carlson, Soph Setter; Cecily Bramschreiber, Jr OH; Kylee Fitzsimmons, Jr OH
Outlook: Coming up a victory short last season of earning the 5A state championship, Lovejoy is seeking to finish the job in 2019. There are certainly pieces to believe that Lovejoy can make it happen. One is at the setting position, with Averi Carlson back for her sophomore campaign after earning the MaxPreps Freshman of the Year award in 2018. She’ll be dishing plenty to Cecily Bramschreiber, an explosive outside who’ll carry her share of the offense.
23. Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas)
Last year’s record: 47-6
Key players: Reagan Rutherford, Sr S/RS; Nia McCardell, Sr Lib; Claire Jeter, Sr MB
Outlook: Ridge Point lost just one starter to graduation but it was a big one in Skylar Fields. That leaves a void on the outside and Ridge Point must find a way to fill that void. However, Ridge Point is stacked at other positions, including with the versatile Rutherford able to do a lot for the team. Ridge Point made it to state for the first time last year but it’s going to take a lot of work to return there this fall.
24. Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas)
Last year’s record: 40-10
Key players: Natalie Glenn, Jr OH; Annabelle Smith, Sr MB; Mabyn Thomas, Soph S/RS
Outlook: Last season ended with a run to the 6A semifinals for Southlake Carroll. The Dragons have suitable enough pieces back but will have to fill other holes in order to be in the thick of it once more. Natalie Glenn is going to carry a load on the outside and is someone opponents need to key in on. Annabelle Smith is a smooth scoring option in the middle and it’ll be important for Southlake Carroll to utilize her as much as possible.
25. St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kansas)
Last year’s record: 36-8
Key players: Caroline Bien, Jr OH/L; Caroline Zabroske, Sr OH/MB; Ava Martin, Soph OH
Outlook: The Saints are another team that finished one victory short of the ultimate prize a season ago when they finished runner up to St. James Academy in the 5A state-championship match. St. James was hit harder by graduation, as the returning parts should keep St. Thomas right near the top of 5A. Caroline Bien could play either libero or outside this season. One reason should could move to libero this season is the emergence of sophomore Ava Martin on the outside.
Chris Tobolski has been covering prep and high school sports since 2004 after earning a Communications degree from Cal State Fullerton. He began at the Orange County Register, where one of his beats was covering volleyball. After nearly six years of working for the newspaper, Chris started his own website covering boys and girls volleyball in Southern California. From there, Chris joined PrepVolleyball.com, where he spent five years covering the national club-volleyball scene.
Chris moved to the high school beat last year. He’s the only national writer who has covered both girls club and high school volleyball in the past year. He currently lives in Anaheim, California.