Volleyball ’08: A sneak peek

The IGHSAU preseason volleyball rankings are still two or three weeks from hatching.

We can’t fake our way through a long list of contenders in each class. A short list, though….why not?

CLASS 4A

1. JOHNSTON (40-2): The defending champs took the crown last year, a year ahead of schedule. The Dragons return 6-3 Taylor Knuth, as well as three other starters. This is where you have to start.

2. ANKENY (35-4): Talent, talent, talent. And tradition. Did we mention talent?

3. CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY (30-9): The loss of a 2-0 regional-final lead to eventual state runner-up Cedar Falls still stings. Boenish & Brightwell are juniors. If Jade Rogers can come back from a torn ACL, the Cougars will be a legit title threat.

4. DUBUQUE HEMPSTEAD (27-11): Mustangs have supplanted Wahlert as Dubuque’s best team. Much of the talent from last year’s state-tournament team returns.

5. IOWA CITY HIGH (25-13): A pair of Nelsons (setter Veronika and outside hitter Brittany) figure to lead the Little Hawks back to state for the fifth time in six years.

CLASS 3A (definitely the deepest of the four classes)

1. MOUNT VERNON (27-8): Mustangs are large (with a front line of 6-2, 6-1 and 6-0) and loaded. Runners-up last year, this is a group that should remain among the state’s elite for a while.

2. SIOUX CITY HEELAN (39-16): Two-time defending champs have some holes to fill, but the Crusaders will be a handful in November. Again.

3. DUBUQUE WAHLERT (22-15): Last year was a down year by Wahlert standards. Golden Eagles will be back up somewhat this time around.

4. WEST DELAWARE (42-5): One of these years, the Hawks are going to go all the way. Four starters are back, but there’s not much size.

5. MARION (35-10): Three Wamac teams in the top five? With Brittney Thomas, Sam Rinehart and Morgan Paige, the Indians will be as athletic as everyone.

And while we’re at it, let’s rank Winterset and Algona 6 and 7. They’re too good not to mention.

CLASS 2A

1. DIKE-NEW HARTFORD (38-8): Hannah Willms is the best senior athlete in the state, and by a fairly wide margin. She’s one of four starters back that pushed Western Christian in the ’07 final.

2. PELLA CHRISTIAN (32-10): Four starters return from a team that came within a whisker of the championship match last year.

3. IKM-MANNING: If the chemistry is there, this merger program will contend. Manning (35-4 in 2007) would have been the preseason #1 in 1A had it been flying solo this year. IKM will add size. Again, chemistry is key.

4. WESTERN CHRISTIAN (50-2): “Tradition never graduates,” the mantra goes at Western, which owns six of the last seven 2A titles. A slug of seniors have left, but you know there’s talent coming. Don’t count the Wolfpack out.

5. WATERLOO COLUMBUS (37-8): Yet another Wamac powerhouse. A new coach inherits a wealth of talent.

CLASS 1A

1. WAPSIE VALLEY (39-1): Nobody stands out in the small-school class, so start with the two-time defending champs. Three starters are back.

2. SPRINGVILLE (26-8): Orioles might have to wait to start thinking about defending their state basketball crown, because they figure to be playing volleyball well into November. 

3. TRIPOLI (32-8): A program with a rich tradition and four returning starters. Unfortunately, none of them are named Nilges.

4. NEW LONDON (33-7): Long lost in the shadow of West Point Marquette and now Fort Madison Holy Trinity, the Tigers are now the best in the state’s southeast corner.

5. SOUTHERN CAL (27-10): Mustangs reached the state tournament in 2007, and return a good share of a balanced attack.

There you go. Digest it. Disregard it. Whatever.

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