TEAMS TO WATCH
1. Baylor: In Division II-AA, the Lady Red Raiders are seeking a fifth consecutive East/Middle Region title and ninth state berth in succession. It helps having an all-state setter (Sarah Sumida) and four hitters 5-foot-10 or taller.
2. Cleveland: The District 5-AAA and Region 3 champions lost their fine libero to graduation, but they return a dominant hitter who’s surrounded by plenty of talent, such as junior setter Anna Renshaw.
3. Northwest Whitfield: The Lady Bruins graduated one player but return 10 who coach Kelsey Kirk said “have had ample varsity experience.” MaLane Kyer and Kailey Long were GHSA All-Area 6-AAAA picks in 2016.
4. Sale Creek: The Class A Lady Panthers graduated a key all-around contributor, but they return a strong senior nucleus in hitter Gracie Janow, setter Bailey Nelson and libero Morgan Weatherford.
5. Gordon Lee: Led by senior Aubree Yancey and another hitter, sophomore Gracie O’Neal, the Lady Trojans of GHSA Class A return eight players from last year’s team that won more than 30 matches.
1. Emma Flowers, Cleveland: As a junior she had nearly 800 kills, almost 400 digs and helped the Class AAA Lady Raiders to several firsts, including a state-tournament trip for the first time.
2. Sarah Sumida, Baylor: She had more than 1,100 assists as a junior and was second in aces as the Lady Red Raiders finished as state runners-up.
3. Maia Rackel, Signal Mountain: The big-time leaper was one of the top two in kills and blocks as a junior last year for the Class AA state runner-up, and she was second in digs behind her team’s libero.
4. Holly Heath, Northwest Whitfield: The current senior was the 2016 GHSA Area 6-AAAA player of the year. She’s an outside hitter and defensive specialist and more than an adequate passer.
5. Lilly Berger, GPS: The senior has worked her way back from a torn ACL that happened early last season. She’s an outside hitter with the ability to lead the Bruisers in…