VolleyballMag.com’s 2019 national high school rankings have been compiled by veteran club- and prep-volleyball reporter Chris Tobolski.
We’ve listed the top 50 and start today with numbers 26 through 50. Look for teams 1-25 on Saturday.
The season has already started in many states, but most are just getting under way. These 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.
26. Ursuline Academy (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Last year’s record: 27-2
Key players: Logan Case, Sr Setter; Emma Gielas, Sr RS; Hailey Green, Jr MB; Sydney McCarthy, Jr OH
Outlook: Ursuline Academy started the last two seasons as the favorite to win the Division 1 state crown and pulled through with victories both times. This year, though, the race is tightly packed and the Lions’ status as the team to beat could be in jeopardy. Still, Ursuline carries lots of experience and has returning players like Logan Case and Emma Gielas who know how to win.
27. Hagerty (Oviedo, Florida)
Last year’s record: 25-5
Key players: Sydney Conley, Sr RS; Audrey Douglas, Sr MB; Emily Lawrence, Sr Setter; Alina Carillo, Jr OH
Outlook: Hagerty was stopped short of reaching the 8A final four last season when it fell to Plant in the regional final. Like most, Hagerty has undergone changes but not enough to think Hagerty is falling out of contention this fall. The Huskies will build the offense around a trio of attackers in Sydney Conley, Audrey Douglas and Alina Carrillo as they figure to be the main targets for setter Emily Lawrence.
28. Sacred Heart Academy (Louisville, Kentucky)
Last year’s record: 27-10
Key players: Tess Schrenger, Soph OH; Anna Lococo, Sr Lib; Kristen Clemons, Sr MB
Outlook: Assumption certainly remains the favor in the state of Kentucky but Sacred Heart looks to be improved for the 2019 campaign. Middle Kristen Clemons and libero Anna Lococo are two seniors who provide leadership to go with their experience. The Valkyries should also get a boost from OH Tess Schrenger having a year of high school and club under her belt as she continues to improve.
29. Padua Franciscan (Parma, Ohio)
Last year’s record: 28-2
Key players: Samantha Ott, Sr OH; Maria Futey, Jr OH; Ella Mihacevich, Sr Setter
Outlook: The Bruins finished runner up to Ursuline Academy in last year’s Div. 1 state championship. It was the first time Padua Franciscan played in the highest division and with significant contributors back this season the Bruins could break through in 2019.
30. Hamilton (Chandler, Arizona)
Last year’s record: 33-10
Key players: Jordan Middleton, Soph OH; Micha Gryniewicz, Soph OH; Reilly Babock, Sr S/RS; Bella Zapata, Sr Lib; Jahara Campbell, Jr OH
Outlook: Hamilton reached the state 6A (top division) semifinals in 2018 and starts the year as the early favorite for the crown in 2019. That’s because with a lineup that features Jordan Middleton, Micah Gryniewicz and Jahara Campbell, as long as Hamilton can pass and set it won’t have any issues finding someone who can put the ball away.
31. Nazareth Academy (LaGrange Park, Illinois)
Last year’s record: 31-5
Key players: Leilani Dodson, Sr MB; Izzy Decker, Jr OH; Gillian Grimes, Soph Lib; Katie Hurta, Soph S/OH; Ella Sandt, Sr Setter
Outlook: An experienced bunch improved with the transfer of Katie Hurta, who can set and hit. She’ll add another weapon to a team that already had a couple in Leilani Dodson and Izzy Decker. With the setting and libero positions handled as well, it’s looking like Nazareth Academy should challenge for the 3A state championship.
32. Chaparral (Parker, Colorado)
Last year’s record: 26-4
Key players: Julianna Dalton, Sr OH; Emma Ammerman, Sr S/RS; Katie Dalton, Soph S/RS
Outlook: Knocking on the door of a 5A state championship last season, the Wolverines fell in the finals to Valor Christian. Can Chaparral take care of unfinished business in 2019? The Wolverines are going to be back in the chase for the state title, led by a pair of seniors in Julianna Dalton and Emma Ammerman. They figure to carry a load on offense, with another Dalton, Katie, chipping in setting and hitting.
33. Millard North (Omaha, Nebraska)
Last year’s record: 38-2
Key players: Izzy Lukens, Sr Setter; McKenna Ruch, Sr OH
Outlook: As we see the Mustangs work in some players in new roles, there could be a few more losses than experienced last fall. Still, the returning core has been to three straight Class A state finals, including winning in it all in 2016 and ’18, and is positioned to compete for another one in 2019.
34. Lansing (Kansas)
Last year’s record: 39-6
Key players: Karli Schmidt, Sr OH; Kamryn Farris, Soph Lib; Caroline Crawford, Sr MB
Outlook: Lansing wasn’t far off from playing for the 5A state crown in 2018. The Lions lost to St. James Academy in the semifinals and wound up taking third place after defeating Bishop Carroll. The core coming back features outside Karli Schmidt, while Lansing also gets a boost from transfer Caroline Crawford for added offense. It should have Lansing back contending for the state championship in 2019.
35. Mercy (Louisville, Kentucky)
Last year’s record: 35-7
Key players: Elena Scott, Jr Setter; Eleanor Beavin, Jr Lib
Outlook: No question Mercy is going to have to replace the offense that left from last season. But the Jaguars do not have to worry about setting or defense. Eleanor Beavin is one of the top liberos in the country and will make life hard on attackers. She plays club with setter Elena Scott, who is crafty and knows how to keep defenses on their toes. Mercy has finished the past two seasons runner up in the state final.
36. Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco, California)
Last year’s record: 31-7
Key players: Skylar Canady, Sr OH; Megan Lenn, Sr OH; Alden Standley, Sr Setter
Outlook: It was a break out season for the Fightin’ Irish last season as the program captured its first West Catholic League title. It’s a big deal given usual national powerhouse Archbishop Mitty is in the same league. Not only is Sacred Heart Cathedral looking to back last year’s performance up with another run through league, it is also hoping to improve on last year’s showing in the Open Division of the state playoffs. Sacred Heart lost to Central in the quarterfinals.
37. Althoff Catholic (Belleville, Illinois)
Last year’s record: 37-5
Key players: Karinna Gall, Sr OH; Katie Wemhoener, Sr OH; Mary Wessel, Sr Setter
Outlook: The 3A runner ups a season ago, the Crusaders are built to contend once more. Karinna Gall and Katie Wemhoener combined to do many things for Altholf a season ago. Things like lead the team in kills, blocks and digs. That’s a great foundation to keep the Crusaders in the running.
38. Eureka (Missouri)
Last year’s record: 31-8
Key players: Avery Crowder, Sr Setter; Hannah Feltz, Sr RS; Madison Scheer, Soph OH
Outlook: The Class 4 defending champs are looking to go back-to-back. Returning setter Avery Crowder isn’t a bad place to start. She’s part of the reason the Wildcats are going to be back challenging for state this fall. She has senior right side Hannah Felt as one option and rising sophomore Madison Scheer as another.
39. Perry (Gilbert, Arizona)
Last year’s record: 32-4
Key players: Makayla Long, Jr MB; Sian Richardson, Sr OH; Tatum Stall, Sr OH
Outlook: Perry reached the 6A semifinals last fall and could be poised for an even better showing this coming season. The arrival of transfer Makayla Long from Oregon will boost an offense that already had Sian Richardson and Tatum Stall coming back on the outside.
40. Iolani (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Last year’s record: 28-6
Key players: Elena Oglivie, Sr OH; Rebecca Sakoda, Jr OH
Outlook: The Raiders are a prototypical island team. There is only one player listed at 6-0 or taller and she’s a freshman. The defending Division 1 champs aren’t going to tower over opponents but with someone like Elena Oglive on the outside Iolani has a true go-to hitter at the position. Both state finalists last year are re-tooling this year, so the race seems to be wide open as the Raiders seek a repeat.
41. Foothill (Santa Ana, California)
Last year’s record: 32-6
Key players: Rachel Fairbanks, Jr S/RS; Grace Chillingsworth, Jr OH; Lauren Bays, Jr Lib
Outlook: Last season Foothill was among the top teams in Southern California and the Knights will look to continue that trend for a second season in a row. Though Foothill loses some key players it does have enough coming back to keep the Knights moving forward. Rachel Fairbanks, Grace Chillingsworth and Lauren Bays were all part of Tstreet 16s gold medal run at USAV Junior Nationals this summer.
42. Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Last year’s record: 20-7
Key players: Carly Hendrickson, Soph OH; Megan Wielonski, Jr Setter; Stevie Wolf, Sr Lib
Outlook: Mount Notre Dame lost a slugfest of a five-setter against Ursuline Academy in the regional finals last season and was stopped one victory shy of advancing to the final four of Division 1. As the Cougars gear up for another push they’ll be relying on some familiar faces. Carly Hendrickson is a rising talent and one that should help bolster the offense on the outside. Mount Notre Dame also has dependable players back at setter with Megan Wielonski and libero with Stevie Wolf.
43. Kamehameha (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Last year’s record: 36-4
Key players: Keonilei Akana, Sr OH; Devin Kahahawai, Soph OH; Maui Robins, Soph OH
Outlook: The Division I state final stalwarts weren’t quite able to bring home another title last season but the Warriors are likely to get another crack at it this fall. Kamehemeha took some hits but will load up again around outside Keonilei Akana and a pair of sophomores in Devin Kahawai and Maui Robins. Like Iolani, Kamehameha doesn’t have a lot of size, with only Kahawai at 6-0 or above.
44. Cor Jesu Academy (St. Louis, Missouri)
Last year’s record: 22-10
Key players: Jillian Mattingly, Sr MB; Lily Rogers, Sr Setter; Emily Henken, Sr OH
Outlook: Falling in the Class 4 quarterfinals last season, Cor Jesu Academy appears set to stick around longer this coming year after losing just one senior to graduation. The top fill kill leaders from 2018 are back, including Jillian Mattingly. She also led the team in blocks.
45. Walton (Marietta, Georgia)
Last year’s record: 41-3
Key players: Emery Dupes, Jr L/DS; Madison Morey, Sr L/DS; Phoebe Awoleye, Sr, MB/RS; Catherine Cheney, Sr, L/DS
Outlook: Walton was hit as hard by graduation as any program but the fact the Raiders remain in the top 50 speaks to some of the pieces that didn’t leave and are back. One is Phoebe Awoleye. If her continued emergence from the club season carries over into high school, then opponents are not going to be able to slow her down. Toss in the fact Walton still is stacked in the back row, including junior Emery Dupes, the ball control and defense should be a strength for Walton as it looks to hold onto its reign in Class 7A.
46. St. Ursula Academy (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Last year’s record: 16-10
Key players: Mary Shaffer, Sr OH; Emma Grome, Jr S/OH; Mary Feldkamp, Sr Lib
Outlook: It’s set up for an improved season for St. Ursula Academy, which graduated just four seniors and brings back vital contributors from last fall. Among them is outside Mary Shaffer, who led the team in both kills and blocks last season. Joining her is Emma Grome, last year’s assist leader, and Mary Feldkamp, who led the team in digs. It’ll still be a tough test for St. Ursula to rise to the top in a tough Division 1 but the Bulldogs figure to make it more interesting this season at the very least.
47. Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Florida)
Last year’s record: 16-5
Key players: Cierra Jenkins, Sr S/RS; Lauren Gips, Sr MB; Mya Wood, Soph RS; Tamzen Wilson, Sr, Lib;
Outlook: Getting stopped short of the state playoffs was unexpected for Lake Highland Prep last season and the Highlanders are looking to make up for it in 2019. Among those back is Cierra Jenkins, who plays a big role setting and hitting. Also back is Tamzen Wilson, who led the team in digs, and is another reason why Lake Highland Prep will look to go further in the 4A chase this fall.
48. McIntosh (Peachtree City, Georgia)
Last year’s record: 38-3
Key players: Ngozi Iloh, Jr MB; Jessie Doyal, Sr Setter; Erykah Lovett, Jr OH; Alexa Markley, Soph MB
Outlook: McIntosh graduates zero starters, making the Chiefs the favorite to claim their third straight 5A state title. A big strength comes in the middle with the presence of Iloh, plus the rapidly improving Markley who spent her club season playing on the pin.
49. Green Hope (Cary, North Carolina)
Last year’s record: 28-1
Key players: Sydney Dowler, Sr Setter; Alexis Englebrecht, Sr MB; Taylor Nomanson, Sr Lib
Outlook: Claiming the 4A state title for the third consecutive year a season ago, Green Hope is poised to make it No. 4 in a row this fall. The core members of the roster have been together since they were freshmen, winning the first of three straight state titles. With all that winning and experience, Green Hope is going to be a difficult to displace at the top of its division.
50. Center Grove (Greenwood, Indiana)
Last year’s record: 27-7
Key players: MJ Hammill, Sr Setter; Calista Stafford, Sr OH; Grace Boggess, Jr MB; Ashley Eck, Sr Lib
Outlook: Center Grove fell to Providence in the 4A regional semifinals a season ago. It could be setting up for those two to meet once much, but much later in the state playoffs than they did in 2018. Center Grove is paced by one of the top setters in the country in MJ Hammill and she has her top kill leaders from last year back to work with, plus the steady hand of Ashley Eck in the back row to help provide defensive support.
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.