Sandburg's Sami Knight (7) sets the ball. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
1. Mother McAuley (40-2)
A rebuilding Macs squad usually is a state contender. A defending champ with six returnees? Yep, they’re the team to beat.
2. Sandburg (31-8)
Sami Knight (700 assists) is one of the Southland’s most experienced setters for the defending conference champ. Julia Borschel and Leah Lane totaled 406 kills in 2013.
3. Marist (28-10)
With 6-foot setter Lizzie Zaleski and 6-foot middles Colleen Reilly and Anne Marie Stifter, the RedHawks just need to find a little defense.
4. Joliet Catholic (23-15)
Balanced Angels tout plenty of power with (Madeline Grimm), defense at the net (Maddie Naal) and back (Mallory Krzysciak) and leadership (setter Mary Murphy).
5. Lincoln-Way North (30-7)
AAU All-American Valen Manns heads a deep offense that includes Rachel Burkman and Allyson Cappel. Grace Murphy returns from injury to bolster defense.
6. De La Salle (27-8)
The Meteors played well in the summer on the heels of a solid 2013 behind Mary Kate Byrnes and All-Area player Carleigh Barringer.
7. Lockport (22-14)
Senior leadership abounds for Porters in middle Meredith Friscia, libero Lindsey Visvardis and setter/right-side hitter Olivia Witsaman.
8. Lincoln-Way East (22-15)
The Griffins have nice size in the middle with 6-1 Sarah Dobrich, a gritty outside hitter in Carly Collins and defensive depth in Maddie Nirchi and Emma Bruder.
9. Shepard (20-12)
Caroline Graham set table for more than 600 kills by Briana Haugh, Kendall Yerkes, Abbey Graham and Amanda Carberry in 2013. All return.
10. T.F. South (28-5)
The Rebels should continue winning ways behind All-Area hitter Crystal Lee and blocking phenom Briana Lilly.
20 Players to watch
(in alphabetical order)
Rachel Alles, Providence, sr. S; Carleigh Barringer, De La Salle, sr. OH; Carla Cahill, Mother McAuley, sr. L; Kelsey Clark, Mother McAuley, sr. MB; Ryann DeJarld, Mother McAuley, sr., OH; Caroline Graham, Shepard, jr. S; Sami Knight, Sandburg, sr., S; Leah Lane, Sandburg, sr. RSH; Lindsay Lannen, Tinley Park, sr., OH; Crystal Lee, T.F. South, sr., OH, Ali Lund, Lemont, sr. OH/RSH; Valen Manns, Lincoln-Way North, sr. MH; Lexi Mantas, Stagg, sr. MH; Mary Murphy, Joliet Catholic, sr. S; Maddie Nirchi, Lincoln-Way East, sr. L; Alexi Pranckus, Andrew, sr. OH; Colleen Reilly, Marist, sr. MB; Simona Tomczak, Oak Lawn, sr. OH; Lindsey Visvardis, Lockport, sr. L; Lizzie Zaleski, Marist, sr., S.