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Capsule outlook of the area’s high school girls’ volleyball teams

High school girls’ volleyball outlook

Belmont

Division: III

Coach: Melissa Miner (1st year)

Last year: 9-8, lost in first round

Returning starters: Megan Bailey, sr., S; Jessie Bergeron, sr., L; Bridget Annis, sr., MH; Alyssa Woods, sr., OH; Ashley Ortiz, sr., DS; Jackelyn Robarge, jr., DS; Shannon Conway, jr., OH; Alex Lugar, jr., DS; Shea Callahan, jr., MH

Top newcomers: Desiree Kuchinsky, jr., OH; Andreya Murphy, so., OH; Louisa Bergeron, jr., RSH

Outlook: The Bears graduated only three players last year, leaving a very strong and talented team for first-year Coach Miner. “The goal of this team is to be stronger and more competitive than the previous years,” Coach Miner said. “We have started from the ground up working on technique, trying to get everyone to play the same. It’s been tough, but the improvements are definitely noticeable. The girls have been on board with the improvements, as they want to make it beyond preliminaries and know that only hard work is going to get them there.”

Teams to beat: Winnisquam, Nute

Franklin

Division: III

Coach: Stephanie Shepard (2nd year)

Last year: 4-12, did not make tournament

Returning starters: Kelsey Bird, sr., OH; Mariah Gauthier, sr., S; Rachael Capri, so., L

Top newcomer: Shania Downey, sr., OH

Outlook: Despite graduating seven seniors from a year ago and being in the throes of a rebuilding year, the Golden Tornadoes still have set their goals on improving and making the postseason. “We are (a) strong, cohesive team with strengths in offense,” Coach Shepard said.

Teams to beat: Winnisquam, Moultonborough, Inter-Lakes

Hillsboro-Deering

Division: III

Coach: Erica Ekeberg (1st year)

Last year: 14-4, lost in quarterfinals

Returning starters: Hannah Pepper, sr., S; Virginia Philbrick, jr., OH; Emily Hatcher, jr., OH

Top newcomers: “The incoming freshmen and sophomores are showing great and quick improvement,” Ekeberg said.

Outlook: The Hillcats lost four seniors from last year’s team, as well as Melissa Miner, who had been coaching the team for seven seasons. But the cupboards aren’t bare for Ekeberg, who has experienced players in senior libero Dakota Anderson and junior middle hitter Elysia Carroll, as well as Pepper, Philbrick, Hatcher. “We have a strong returning group of girls who have been determined and dedicated to the game since day one,” Ekeberg said. “We are building a strong team unit that has determination and confidence for a great season.”

John Stark

Division: III

Coach: Lorraine Connell (9th year)

Last year: 5-12, lost in first round

Returning starters: Shelby Brouillet, sr., OH; Brittney LaCerte, sr., OH; Alex Story, sr., MH; Hannah Davis, jr., MH

Top newcomers: Emily Edwards, so., OH; Madalyn Lover, jr., S

Outlook: Coach Connell is enthusiastic about this team and believes it should improve to “a .500 record, if not better. … Our schedule is tough since we only see a few teams twice and we play a wide variety of skilled teams,” Connell said. “I think my team has a lot of experience from the returning players and the players moving up into starting positions this year are strong.”

Team to beat: Campbell

Winnisquam

Division: III

Coach: Mike Livernois (20th year)

Last year: 16-4, D-III champion

Returning starters: Hannah Chapin, sr., OH; Bailey Long, sr., OH; Carissa Archibald, sr., DS; Mo Raymond, sr., OH; Clarissa MacDonald, sr., DS; Dallis Austin, sr., S

Top newcomers: Marissa DeBlaise, so., OH; Jaila Remillard, so., B; Kaylee Howard, sr., DS

Outlook: The Bears capped off a dream season last year with a Division III championship, but don’t expect a rude awakening to take place at Winnisquam. Livernois’s group returns 11 players from that title team, while four (Chapin, Archibald, Long and Austin) are chasing a third championship after also winning in their freshman year in 2010. According to their coach, they belong in the conversation of the class’s top teams once again. “This is the deepest returning team I have ever had the opportunity to coach,” he said. Chapin, Long, Archibald, Raymond and Hannah Kilcoyne lead a formidable group of hitters, while Austin, MacDonald, Archibald and Meghan LeBelle will lead the defense.

Teams to beat: Nute, Campbell, Moultonborough, Epping, Mascenic

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