Several big-time hitters are back for the top area prep volleyball teams this season.
And two of the big-time programs in the area are loaded for another standout season.
Liberty-Benton and Ottawa-Glandorf, two of the premier teams in northwest Ohio and in the state, have plenty of talent and experience.
O-G and L-B, which finished first and second, respectively, in the final coaches poll last year, could be on another path to meeting in the Division III tournament.
L-B outlasted the Titans in five sets in a district final last season en route to a regional runner-up finish. The Eagles fell in four sets to Tinora in the regional final for their only loss in a 27-1 season that included an 11-0 run through the Blanchard Valley Conference.
Hannah Warrington, a first-team all-Ohioan, is back to lead L-B. The 5-foot-6 senior slammed 317 kills and added 325 digs and 44 aces last season.
The L-B firepower doesn’t stop there.
Sophomore hitter Izzy Granger, an honorable mention all-Ohioan, had 344 kills; senior hitter Caitlin Elseser slammed 216 kills with 115 blocks and senior Schy Shepherd added 189 kills with 67 blocks. Senior Alissa Rhodes dished out 871 assists and has 1,632 for her career.
Meanwhile, O-G has a lot of talent as well but there will be a new coach leading the charge. Amber Gerdeman, a 2014 Leipsic High School graduate who played collegiately at Kent State University, takes over as the Titans’ coach.
She will have big shoes to fill as Ann Ellerbrock, the 2018 Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association Division III Coach of the Year, stepped down after going 402-103 in 18 seasons.
Gerdeman’s talent is led by senior outside hitter Taylor Alt who earned first-team all-Ohio honors and Western Buckeye League Player of the Year recognition. She had 281 kills, 42 aces, 38 blocks and 203 digs.
Senior defensive specialist Claire Eiden, who along with Alt have verbally committed to play volleyball at the University of Toledo, earned third team all-Ohio honors. Senior outside hitter Erica Annesser was an honorable mention all-Ohio pick.
The Titans, who have lost just two WBL matches in the last seven seasons, will look to win their third straight outright title.
L-B and O-G will play in different districts this season with the Titans at the Defiance district and Liberty-Benton at Findlay.
Leipsic, which finished 25-3 overall, 6-0 in the Putnam County League and 10-1 in the BVC, narrowly missed a trip to the Division IV state tournament. The Vikings fell in three sets to eventual state champion Tiffin Calvert in the Elida regional final.
The Vikings lost several key players to graduation, including Hayley Heitmeyer, who was a first team all-Ohioan and is currently playing at Xavier University. The Vikings have six letterwinners back.
Other returning area first-team all-conference players include Ada’s Megan Light. The junior middle hitter earned first-team Northwest Conference honors as a sophomore after smacking 234 kills and stuffing 31 blocks.
In the Northern Buckeye Conference, Fostoria is coming off its best season in school history after going 19-4 overall and winning the outright conference title at 13-1. It was Fostoria’s first championship in any sport in the NBC since the conference began in 2011.
The biggest loss for the Redmen will be Tyriana Settles, a first-team all-Ohio selection who finished her memorable career with 2,135 kills, which is second in OHSAA history.
The Redmen will be young with no seniors and only three returning letterwinners.
In the BVC, Leipsic, Arcadia, Arlington, McComb and Van Buren are coming off solid seasons. In the NWC, Columbus Grove has seven letterwinners from last year’s co-conference championship squad.
Vanlue posted its best season (11-12) in more than four decades and has nearly everyone returning. The Wildcats’ 11 wins were the most in a season in 41 years.
No information was available on North Baltimore.
HEAD COACH: Kyleigh Tabor (2nd year, 12-12).
2018 RECORD: 12-12 overall, 4-4 Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kendal Guagenti, sr. L; Megan Light, jr., MH; Miranda Wills, jr., OH/RS/S; Aubrey Madison, jr., RS/S.
TOP PROSPECTS: Josie Poling, sr., OH; Kylie Acheson, jr., OH; Kirsten Poling, soph. S/MH.
NOTABLE: Light was a first-team all-NWC pick last season after recording 234 kills and 31 blocks. Guagenti added 186 digs and 32 aces.
HEAD COACH: Jacquie Ramsey (8th year, 121-72).
2018 RECORD: 18-6 overall, 8-3 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Lea Pessell, sr., MH; Morgan Squire, sr., OH; Lyndee Ward, jr., OH; Samantha Burnett, jr., S; Caity Cramer, sr., S.
TOP PROSPECTS: Paige Massie, soph., MH; Lanei Rodriguez, sr., DS; Madisson Hartsel, sr., DS; Lenci Rodriguez, soph., DS.
NOTABLE: Pessell, with 168 kills, was a third-team all-BVC pick last season and highlights five returning players.
HEAD COACH: Steve Clark (3rd year, 38-13).
2018 RECORD: 20-6 overall, 8-3 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Morgan Wykes, sr., DS; Lindsay Dodds, sr., S; Abbie Sheets, sr., MH; Hailey Essinger, sr., MH; Izzy Riegle, sr., DS.
TOP PROSPECTS: Carlee Simon, jr., OH; Amber Durliat, sr.; Janay Helms, jr., DS; Abigail Lotz, sr., DS; Jeri Bower, jr., RH.
NOTABLE: Look for the Red Devils to be competitive with five letterwinners including all-BVC third teamer Dodds.
HEAD COACH: Kevin King (4th year).
2018 RECORD: 5-18 overall, 2-6 Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Libby Schaadt, sr., MH; Taylor Schwab, jr., OH; Kylie Stackhouse, soph., MH; Kylie Monday, soph., DS/OH; Skyler Scoles, soph., S; Joscelin Reineke, sr., DS/L; Madison Fleece, sr., DS.
TOP PROSPECTS: Cora Bischoff, jr., MH; Sophie Bricker, soph., DS; Haelyn Bischoff, OH/DS; Celia Smith, jr., MH; Cara Young, soph., S; Grace Myers, jr., MH.
NOTABLE: Look for the Pirates to move up the ladder in the NWC with seven lettermen that includes five returning starters. Stackhouse netted a spot on the all-NWC honorable mention list as a freshman.
HEAD COACH: Stacy Bell (2nd year).
2018 RECORD: 11-13 overall, 9-7 Northern 10 Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: McKenzie Row, sr., OH/DS; Emma Wagner, sr., S; Makenzie Snyder, sr., DS; Sadie Arend, jr., MH; Livia Barger, jr., L; Ellison Roark, jr., OH/DS; Alaina Tiell, jr., MH; Addison Miller, soph., OH/DS; Bailey Tanner, soph., OH.
TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.
NOTABLE: There were no seniors on last year’s club and all nine varsity players are back. Row and Wagner earned all-conference honors a year ago.
HEAD COACH: Adam Choi (3rd year, 36-14).
2018 RECORD: 18-7 overall, 7-1 Northwest Conference, 5-1 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Angel Schneider, sr., MH/OH; Alayna Ricker, jr., OH; Cassie Heilman, sr., MH; Lauren Benroth, jr., S; Emily Ridinger, sr., DS; Becca Choi, sr., S; Abigail Gladwell, sr., DS.
TOP PROSPECTS: Sara Dipnarine, jr., MH/OH; Meghan Blankemeyer, jr., OH/MH; Grace Selhorst, jr., DS/OH; Koryn Halker, soph., S/RS; Kylie Shafer, jr., RS; Shay Schroeder, soph., DS/OH.
NOTABLE: The Bulldogs have seven letterwinners from last year’s co-NWC champion and runner-up PCL squad. Becca Choi had 321 assists a year ago.
HEAD COACH: Susan Rossman (12th year, 167-104).
2018 RECORD: 8-15 overall, 1-10 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Taylor Born, sr., L; Emma Bower, sr., OH; Riley Garmatter, sr., S/MH; Samantha Roth, sr., OH; Maddy Wellington, jr., S; Averie Elchert, soph., OH; Alli Garmatter, soph., MH.
TOP PROSPECTS: Rylei Cooper, jr., RH; Faith Bowersox, soph., OH; Brooke Shepherd, fr., OH/DS.
NOTABLE: Garmatter is the top returnee after an honorable mention all-BVC season in which she recorded 146 kills with 266 digs and 49 aces.
HEAD COACH: Penny Harden (9th year).
2018 RECORD: 7-14 overall, 4-10 Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Madi Schroeder, sr., S; Maddie Mossbarger, sr., MH; Madison Hoiles, jr., DS; Brooklyn Thrash, soph., MH; Kayla Minich, sr., OH; Maddie Daniels, jr., DS; Aleiya Douglas, sr., MH; Mackenzie Mareches, soph., S; Nevaeh Vanmeter, sr., DS.
TOP PROSPECTS: Bre Gonyer, jr., DS; Cara Frank, fr., OH; Kylie Mareches, sr., DS; Kennadie Plouck, fr., L.
NOTABLE: All-conference honorees Schroeder, Thrash and Mossbarger headline solid experience with nine letterwinners.
HEAD COACH: Krissy Lotycz (5th year, 63-29).
2018 RECORD: 19-4 overall, 13-1 Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Zoe Rice, jr., OH; Dashani Taylor, jr., OH; Jasmine Groves, soph., S/MH.
TOP PROSPECTS: Momo Jones, jr., OH; Kamari Godfrey, jr., DS; Ali Sierra, jr., RS; Arielle Scott, fr. RS.
NOTABLE: The Lady Red captured the outright NBC title at 13-1. Gone is NBC Player of the Year Tyriana Settles who ranks second in OHSAA history with 2,135 kills.
HEAD COACH: Kylee Hooker (1st year).
2018 RECORD: 8-15 overall, 5-3 Northwest Central Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Renee Newton, jr; Megan Miller, sr., Alex Jackson, sr.; Quinn Stewart-Evans, sr; Kennedy Hall, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.
NOTABLE: The Polar Bears will be young with only three seniors on the roster. Hooker, a 2014 Hardin Northern grad, takes over as coach and expects Miller, Jackson and Newton to be key contributors this season.
HEAD COACH: Carrie Weaver (5th year).
2018 RECORD: 12-12 overall, 6-5 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Peyton Hoover, sr., OH; Abbi Roerdink, sr., S/RS; Hannah Welly, sr., MH; Olivia Savidge, jr., MH; Megan Kreais, soph., MH; Grace Dohanyos, soph., L; Abbe Beidelschies, soph., S.
TOP PROSPECTS: Elizabeth Wells, jr., OH; Hope Kreais, soph., RS; Brynn Carrel, soph., DS.
NOTABLE: Hoover received honorable mention all-BVC honors and was a third-team all-district performer a year ago. The Chieftains experience with seven letterwinners returning.
HEAD COACH: Brent Newell (6th year, 105-22).
2018 RECORD: 25-3 overall, 11-1 Blanchard Valley Conference, 6-0 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Elizabeth Scheckelhoff, jr., MH; Brooke Brown, sr., L; Lyndie Hazelton, sr., S; Ashley Berger, sr., RS; Aubree Schroeder, sr., DS; Peyton Heitmeyer, soph., OH.
TOP PROSPECTS: Jocelyn Hermiller, soph., OH; Kasey Brough, fr., MH; Marisa Hermiller, fr., MH; McKenna Nunez, jr., RS; Lydia Apple, sr., OH; Morgan Schroeder, sr., S; Shy Giron, sr., DS; Jackie Giron, sr., DS.
NOTABLE: The Vikings won the PCL and were a win away from the state tournament. Replacing all-league player of the year Hayley Heitmeyer, who is playing for Xavier, will be a chore.
HEAD COACH: Julie Todd (8th year, 110-55).
2018 RECORD: 27-1 overall, 11-0 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Hannah Warrington, sr., OH; Izzy Granger, soph., OH; Alissa Rhodes, sr., S; Caitlin Elseser, sr., MH; Schy Shepherd, sr., MH; Emma Otley, sr., L; Sydney Elseser, soph., S; Hannah Bodie, soph., DS.
TOP PROSPECTS: Karis Willow, fr., RH/OH; Olivia Barbara, jr., OH/RH; Avery Zuercher, soph., MH/RH; Chelsea May, soph., MH; Kelsey Conkright, soph., DS/OH; Mia Trevino, sr., RH; Sydney Crossman, sr., RH.
NOTABLE: The Eagles have a boatload of talent back from last year’s team that was one match away from state. Warrington was a first team all-Ohio and the district’s player of the year. Granger, Caitlin Elseser, Rhodes and Shepherd return after all-conference seasons.
HEAD COACH: Bob Moran (3rd year at McComb, 28-21; 313-174 overall).
2018 RECORD: 19-7 overall, 7-4 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Madison Buck, sr.; Shaye Hemminger, sr.; Alysha Like, sr.; Hannah Schroeder, sr.; Nicole Krassow, jr.; Breyonna Panning, jr.
TOP PROSPECTS: Stormy Lance, sr.; Hailey Jenkins, jr.; Olivia Miehls, jr.; Cayla Pitz, jr.; Malorie Schroeder, jr.; Alexis Shoop, jr.; Eliza Dehart, soph.; Brooklynn Downing, fr.; Madison Schroeder, fr.; Anna Threet, fr.
NOTABLE: Like is a three-year letterwinner, while Buck, Hemminger and Schroeder have earned two letters.
HEAD COACH: Amber Gerdeman (1st year).
2018 RECORD: 24-2 overall, 9-0 Western Buckeye League
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Claire Eiden sr., DS; Erica Annesser, sr., OH; Taylor Alt, sr.; OH; Maddie White, jr., OH; Saleigha Ellerbrock, jr., RS; Brianna Schimmoeller, sr., S
TOP PROSPECTS: Nicole Gerten, sr., DS; Taylor Ricker, sr., DS; Lexi Fortman, jr., DS; Erin Kaufman, soph., MH; Miya Ellerbrock, fr., S
NOTABLE: Gerdeman takes over for Ann Ellerbrock, who won 402 matches in 18 seasons leading the Titans. The Titans will look to run the table in the WBL for the third straight season behind a trio of returning all-Ohio players in Alt (first-team), Eiden (third-team) and Annesser (honorable mention).
HEAD COACH: Ron Simons (2nd year, 10-12).
2018 RECORD: 10-12 overall, 4-7 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Alexis Augsburger, jr., DS; Madison Hovest, jr., DS; Alexis McCoy, jr., S; MaKayla Kinsinger, jr., MH; Lacie Fenstermaker, soph., OH; Lillie Nofziger, soph., S; MiKayla Simons, soph., OH.
TOP PROSPECTS: Taelor Miller, soph., MH/OH; Caitlyn Maag, jr., RS; Erin Shartell, soph., RS; Hailey Dysert, soph., RS; Kendall Hovest, soph., DS.
NOTABLE: Pandora-Gilboa, which has no seniors, returns seven letterwinners. Augsburger, McCoy, Hovest and Kinsinger are multi-year letterwinners.
HEAD COACH: Hailey Nusbaum (1st year at PH, 5th year overall, 55-37).
2018 RECORD: 11-12 overall, 3-4 Northwest Ohio Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Audrey Sonnenberg, sr., S; Carissa Rosebrook, sr., MH; Faith Bostelman, sr., OH; Karly Weber, sr., DS; Rachel Nickels, sr., DS; Callie Seedorf, sr., OH; Mckenzie Vance, jr., MH; Abby McGraw, jr., S.
TOP PROSPECTS: Ryanna Tietje, sr., RS; Taylor Crawford, jr., DS.
NOTABLE: Nusbaum, who guided PH to a league title in 2016 and a 55-37 record in three years as Patriots’ head coach, returns to the program. Six of the Patriots’ eight returnees are seniors.
HEAD COACH: Amanda Ribley (2nd year, 6-15).
2018 RECORD: 6-15 overall, 1-10 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Tayler Ashburn, sr., MH; Tayler Yoder sr., S; Taylor Sherman, sr., OH; Hannah Galkiewicz, sr., OH; Hannah Vaughan, sr., L; Grace Wetherill, jr., MH.
TOP PROSPECTS: Brookelyn Walter, soph., OH
NOTABLE: Ashburn was an honorable mention all-BVC pick after tallying 157 kills, 27 aces and 36 blocks.
HEAD COACH: Donielle Crall (3rd year).
2018 RECORD: 4-19 overall, 4-12 Northern 10 Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Sydney Stuckman, jr., OH; Sydnie Dible, jr., DS; Savannah Kinley, jr., S; Eve Smith, sr., S; Emily Hill, sr., OH; Jaydn Smalley, sr., DS; Lily Gibson, Sr., OH; Reagan Ward, sr., MH.
TOP PROSPECTS: Jenna Kurtz, soph., MH; Ella Orians, jr., OH; Marissa Damron, jr., DS.
NOTABLE: Stuckman had a team-high 39 aces, while Smith added 286 assists, Hill 109 kills, Smally 371 digs and Wood 27 blocks a year ago.
HEAD COACH: Mark Bunn (11th year, 173-96).
2018 RECORD: 17-7 overall, 6-5 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Lindsey Shaw, sr., S; Emma Reineke, sr., MH; Maddy Marks, jr., OH.
TOP PROSPECTS: Olivia Cramer, soph., RH hitter; Sophia Reineke, soph., MH; Raegan Miller, sr., DS; Mikaela Voland, sr., MH; Izzie Pawlak, jr., OH; Jordan Keckler, jr., OH; Clare Hoerig, soph., S; Karissa Welte, soph., OH; Faith Smith, fr., L; Kennedy Jones, fr., OH; Sasha Busey, fr., MH.
NOTABLE: Emma Reineke is one of three returning letterwinners for the Black Knights. She was second-team all-BVC after slamming 235 kills and serving up 48 aces.
HEAD COACH: Zack Bame (4th year, 18-45).
2018 RECORD: 11-12 overall, 3-8 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Maliah Snook, sr., MH; Emma Biller, sr., OH/S; Audrey Phillips, jr., S; Emma Franks, jr., MH; Lauren Kin, sr., RS/OH; Faith Price, jr., OH/S.
TOP PROSPECTS: Amyiah Brenneman, sr., OH/RS; Kaya King, sr., DS; Morgan Crowe, fr., L/DS; Taylor Gerschutz, soph., MH; Sydney King, fr., MH/OH; Savy Carrillo, soph., S/DS; Adriana Caudill, soph., MH.
NOTABLE: Look for Vanlue to make another big leap forward. The Wildcats’ 11 wins a year ago were the most in a season in 41 years. Biller and Snook were third-team all-BVC selections, while Phillips earned honorable mention recognition.