KENT TARBOX / for The Courier
Liberty-Bentons Schy Shepherd (7) and Hannah Warrington (3) set a block on the spike from Leipsics Morgan Schroeder (14) in a match last season. All three players return for their respective teams this season as the Eagles and Vikings could again battle for the Blanchard Valley Conference volleyball crown.

With a veteran group of players returning at Liberty-Benton, it appears the Eagles’ volleyball squad will be the team to beat again in the Blanchard Valley Conference.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t a number of teams in the conference lining up to try and knock L-B off the mountain.

Liberty-Benton has eight returning letterwinners from last year’s team that went 23-2 overall and completed a perfect 11-0 run through the conference.

Junior hitter Caitlin Elseser and outside hitter/defensive specialist Hannah Warrington are back for coach Julie Todd’s Eagles after netting first-team all-conference honors a year ago. Seniors Chloe Miller, Abby Reynolds, Molly Walker and Aly Carpenter are also among the returnees for L-B this season.

Leipsic and Arlington both may be the toughest competition the Eagles will face in league play.

The Vikings, who were second in the conference and state ranked throughout last season, also have a veteran team returning highlighted by BVC Player of the Year senior Hayley Heitmeyer.

Seniors Selena Loredo (setter), Kacey Dulle (defensive specialist), Carlee Siefker (outside hitter) are among the nine returning players for coach Brent Newell.

Siefker was a second team all-league selection. The Vikings, though, did lose an outstanding player to graduation in Kierra Meyer.

In coach Steve Clark’s second season, the Red Devils will be looking to reload as just four letterwinners return from last year’s third-place club that went 16-6.

Arlington lost all-BVC performers Hannah Jordan and Addy Lafferty to graduation.

Senior middle hitter Hannah Willow, an all-BVC first teamer, returns as do senior outside hitter Jenna Pepple, senior middle hitter Sarah Solt and junior defensive specialist Morgan Wykes.

Look for a resurgent season at McComb. The Panthers did well in the league but slipped to 9-14 overall while playing a competitive schedule. Coach Bob Moran has seven letterwinners back including senior Lauren Grubb and junior Alysha Like are returning all-conference selections for the Panthers.

Another player to watch in the conference is returning all-BVC first team, libero Sydney Ramsey from Arcadia.

Ramsey, who has a school record 886 career digs, is one of seven letterwinners back for the Redskins.

Also of note:

It’s Hopewell-Loudon’s final season as a member of the BVC. The Chieftains will move to the Sandusky Bay Conference at the end of the school year.

Amanda Ribley takes over the volleyball program at Riverdale that struggled to a 1-19 record a year ago.

Alli Baker is the new coach at North Baltimore as the Tigers try to rebound from a 2-18 season a year ago.

Eight of the 12 BVC teams will be in action today, the first day of the high school volleyball season around the state.

Riverdale hosts Colonel Crawford, Hopewell-Loudon will play in a triangular at Tiffin Columbian, Arlington hosts Wynford and McComb travels to Upper Sandusky.

In other matches, North Baltimore travels to Bluffton, Vanlue hosts Ridgemont and Arcadia takes on Danbury.

Arcadia

HEAD COACH: Jacquie Ramsey (8th year, 103-66).

2017 RECORD: 13-11 overall, 6-5 Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Sydney Ramsey, sr., L; Tori Green, sr., MH; Sammy Watkins, sr., OH/DS; Megan Mock, jr., RS; Mallory Laveglia, sr., DS; Caity Cramer, jr., S; Lyndee Ward, soph., OH.

TOP PROSPECTS: Lea Pessell, jr., MH; Samantha Burnett, soph., S; Morgan Squire, jr., RS; MacKenzie Kemenah, fr., OH.

NOTABLE: The Redskins have a solid group of returning players including first team all-BVC libero Ramsey, who is the school’s career leader with 886 digs.

Arlington

HEAD COACH: Steve Clark (2nd year, 16-6).

2017 RECORD: 18-7 overall, 9-2 Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jenna Pepple, sr., OH; Hannah Willow, sr., MH; Sarah Solt, sr., MH; Morgan Wykes, jr., DS.

TOP PROSPECTS: Izzy Riegle, jr., DS; Abbie Sheets, jr., OH; Lindsay Dodds, jr., S; Kyra Bormuth sr., OH; Erin Ramsdell, sr., RH; Hailey Essinger, jr., RH; Abigail Lotz, jr., DS; Amber Durliat, jr., S.

NOTABLE: Willow was a first-team all-BVC pick as well as a second-team District 8 selection. She’s one of four returning letterwinners for the Red Devils who finished third in the league standings last season.

Cory-Rawson

HEAD COACH: Susan Rossman (11th year, 158-88).

2017 RECORD: 7-15 overall, 3-8 Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Amanda Green, sr., MH; Riley Garmatter, jr., MH/S; Emma Bower, jr., OH; Taylor Born jr., L; Samantha Ross, jr., OH.

TOP PROSPECTS: Averie Elchert, fr., RS; Alli Garmatter, fr., MH; Maddy Wellington, soph., S; Aubrey Price, jr., RS; Destiny Simon, sr., RS.

NOTABLE: Green earned a third-team all-BVC nod while Garmatter was an honorable mention. Ross, unfortunately, will be out for the season.

Hopewell-Loudon

HEAD COACH: Carrie Weaver (4th year, 41-30).

2017 RECORD: 16-6 overall, 8-3 Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Chelsey Depinet, sr., DS; Peyton Hoover, jr., OH; Kasey Livesay, jr., DS; Olivia Savidge, soph., MH.

TOP PROSPECTS: Abbi Roerdink, jr., S/RS; Channelle Lyons, jr., OH; Hannah Welly, jr., MH; Abbe Beidelschies, fr., S/RS; Megan Kreais, fr., RS; Grace Dobanyos, fr.; DS/L.

NOTABLE: Peyton Hoover was an honorable mention all-BVC pick as a sophomore last season. She’s one of four returning letterwinners back for the Chieftains.

Leipsic

HEAD COACH: Brent Newell (5th year, 80-19).

2017 RECORD: 20-4 overall, 10-1 Blanchard Valley Conference, 5-1 Putnam County League.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Selena Loredo, sr., S; Hayley Heitmeyer, sr., MH; Kacey Dulle, sr., DS; Carlee Siefker, sr., OH; Ashley Berger, jr. RS; Lyndie Hazelton, jr., S; Brooke Brown, jr., DS; Aubree Schroeder, jr., DS; Elizabeth Scheckelhoff, soph., RS.

TOP PROSPECTS: Morgan Schroeder, jr., S; Lydia Apple, jr., OH; Shy Giron, jr., DS; Jackie Giron, jr., DS; McKenna Nunez, soph., MH; Peyton Heitmeyer, fr., OH.

NOTABLE: With nine letterwinners back from last year’s 20-4 team, the Vikings should be locked and loaded for a run at both the BVC and PCL titles. Leipsic lost second team all-Ohioan Kierra Meyer to graduation but BVC Player of the Year Heitmeyer returns.

Liberty-Benton

HEAD COACH: Julie Todd (7th year, 83-54).

2017 RECORD: 23-2 overall, 11-0 Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Hannah Warrington, jr., OH/DS; Caitlin Elseser, jr., MB; Alissa Rhodes, jr., S; Schy Shepherd, jr., MB; Chloe Miller, sr., DS; Abby Reynolds, sr., RS; Aly Carpenter, sr., S/DS; Molly Walker, sr., DS.

TOP PROSPECTS: Izzy Granger, fr., OH; Emma Otley, jr., DS; Sydney Elseser, fr.

NOTABLE: The Eagles will be tough to beat with eight returning letterwinners including first team all-conference players Warrington and Elseser.

McComb

HEAD COACH: Bob Moran (2nd year).

2017 RECORD: 9-13 overall, 7-4 Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Madison Buck, jr.; Lauren Grubb, sr.; Shaye Hemminger, jr.; Alyssa Herr, sr.; Kelly Lause, sr.; Alysha Like, jr.; Hannah Schroeder, jr.

TOP PROSPECTS: Marah Griffith, sr; Hailey Jenkins, soph.; Nicole Krassow, soph.; Olivia Miehls, soph.; Breyonna Panning, so.; Cayla Pitz, so.; Malorie Schroeder, soph.

NOTABLE: Grubb was a second-team league pick last season while Alysha Like landed on the third team.

North Baltimore

HEAD COACH: Alli Baker (1st year)

2017 RECORD: 2-18 overall, 1-10 Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Hannah Lord, sr., L; Hailey Watson, sr., MH; Allison Kepling, sr., S; Simone Thompson, jr., RS; Mia McCartney, soph., OH.

TOP PROSPECTS: Grace Hagemyer, fr., MH; Leah Lee, jr., OH; Allie McPherson, jr., S; Maddy Gerdeman, jr., BR; Olivia Hyatt, sr., RS.

NOTABLE: Three letterwinners return for the Tigers who have a new face in charge of the program as Alli Baker takes over as the school’s new head coach.

Pandora-Gilboa

HEAD COACH: Ron Simons (1st year).

2017 RECORD: 7-15 overall, 3-3 Putnam County League, 4-7 Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Addilyn Diller, sr., S; Emma Deitering, sr., OH.

TOP PROSPECTS: Lacie Fenstermaker, fr., OH/MH; MiKayla Simons, fr., OH; Avery Zuercher, fr., MH.

NOTABLE: The Rockets return only two senior letterwinners and will add three freshmen starters into the mix.

Riverdale

HEAD COACH: Amanda Ribley (1st year).

2017 RECORD: 1-19 overall, 1-10 Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Bry Vanden Bosch, sr., OH; Tayler Ashburn, jr., MH; Tayler Yoder, jr., MH; Taylor Sherman, jr., OH; Hannah Galkiewicz, jr., RH; Grace Wetherill, soph., MH; Lauren McClain, so., OH.

TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.

NOTABLE: Seven letterwinners return for the Falcons who look to rebound from a one-win season in 2017. Of the seven, only honorable mention all-BVC pick Ashburn has multiple years of experience. Vanden Bosch, who missed last year due to injury, is Riverdale’s lone senior.

Van Buren

HEAD COACH: Mark Bunn (3rd year, 24-21).

2017 RECORD: 12-10 overall, 5-6 Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Faith DeWalt, sr., L; Sydney Leeper, sr., M; Jessica Rinehart, sr., RS; Mackenzie Saltzman, sr., OH; Emma Reineke, jr., MH: Linsdey Shaw, jr., S.

TOP PROSPECTS: Maddy Marks, soph., OH; Karis Brown, jr., MH.

NOTABLE: Shaw and Saltzman were both honorable mention all-BVC picks last year. Shaw led with 597 assists while Saltzman tallied 248 digs and 66 kills. Emma Reineke is the team’s returning kills leader with 136.

Vanlue

HEAD COACH: Zack Bame (3rd year, 7-35).

2017 RECORD: 5-15 overall, 1-10 Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Emma Biller jr., OH; Bethany Smith, sr., OH; Maliah Snook, jr., MH/MB; Audrey Phillips, so., S.

TOP PROSPECTS: Emma Franks, soph., MH/MB; Lauren Kin, jr., OH/RS; Kaya King, jr., DS/RS; Faith Price, soph., DS; Amyiah Brenneman, jr., OH/S.

NOTABLE: Biller and Snook were both honorable mention all-BVC picks last season. Biller tallied 75 kills and 232 assists while Snook led with 179 kills.

Smith (129 digs) is the lone senior on the squad.

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