With every high school volleyball season, rosters are critical to following the action on court. Seniors graduate, freshmen enter, and a few players transfer along the way. But this year we need a roster just to figure out the new faces on the bench. Never before has there been so many coaching changes among the county’s top programs. To preview the season, we offer a primer so you’ll know you’re way around the sideline.
Five programs with new faces in new places
Plant (24-6, Class 6A state champions)
New face: Assistant Amy Rumore replaces Leanna Taylor, now coach at Division II Queens College.
New place: Taylor guided the Panthers to five straight state titles, so Rumore has big shoes to fill, but she knows the program and saw Taylor’s success first hand from the bench. Despite losing five senior starters, the talent cupboard is by no means bare.
Tampa Prep (13-16, Class 2A state semifinalists)
New face: Assistant Jessica Lamm takes over for Mike Flynn, who became the school’s full-time athletic director.
New place: Lamm was very hands-on as an assistant under Flynn, so the transition here shouldn’t be tough. Tampa Prep has won a bay area-record 15 state titles and has gone to the state tournament the past three years, but hasn’t brought home gold since 2004. But there’s a lot of young talent in the wings that Lamm is excited about. Nine out of her 14 varsity players are freshmen or sophomores.
Durant (16-7, Class 5A region finalist)
New face: Newcomer Brittany Wilson takes over for Jeff Davis, who took the job at Academy of the Holy Names
New place: Wilson inherits five starters from a team that was one win from the 5A state tournament and is now battle-tested from two five-set region tournament wins last year. The Cougars also added transfer outside hitter Lexi Thompson, who led Sickles in kills last season as a freshman. A former JV coach at Holy Names, Wilson knows the volleyball scene.
Bloomingdale (18-7, Class 6A region quarterfinalists)
New face: Former University of Tampa All-American Margeaux Sinibaldi replaces Danielle Leffler, who stepped down after the season.
New place: Sinibaldi, like Leffler before her, had success as a college player at UT. Sinibaldi, the JV coach last season, knows the program well. She’s also a proven winner — she was a member of UT’s D-II national champion team in 2006. This year will be tough sharing a district with Plant and Durant.
Holy Names (16-8, third in Class 3A, District 10)
New face: Davis replaces Kevin Reynolds, who was fired after last season.
New place: Davis did a good job rebuilding Durant, and now moves on to do the same at Holy Names. He will be without top player Brynn Wiley, a senior hitter who is out with an MCL injury, for the first month of the season. But the Jaguars have several juniors and sophomores with starting experience. Davis coached club ball with Berkeley coach and new district rival Randy Dagostino for 10 years.
10 players to watch
MB/OH Chelsea Bowden, Durant, Sr.: Will be called up to provide offense for the Cougars.
OH Sidney Brown, Berkeley Prep, So.: Holy Names transfer was the county’s top freshman last season.
OH Jordan Burgess, Berkeley Prep, Sr.: Stanford commit was tabbed national junior of the year by MaxPreps.
MH Sarah Burrington, Riverview, Sr.: Florida State pledge is the most dominating middle in the county at 6-foot-4.
S/RS Mackenzie Dagostino, Berkeley Prep, Sr.: Versatile player runs Bucs offense with precision, has committed to Maryland.
S Maren Douglas, Plant, Sr.: Went under the radar on last year’s state titlists; this is her team this season.
OH/RS Brynne Fruhmorgen, Plant, Sr.: 6-foot-3 middle is one of the few familiar names on the Panthers’ roster.
S Taylor Hackemack, Durant, Sr.: A rare 6-foot-2 setter committed to Mississippi State, her leadership will be critical.
OH/RS Katie Krueger, Tampa Prep, Jr.: Virginia Tech commit will carry the load for the young Terrapins.
OH/RS Corey Perkins, Tampa Prep, Fr.: One of the reasons the Terps are excited about their talented corps of young players.
Preseason top five
1. Berkeley Prep: The Bucs are going for three straight state titles and the program’s 15th overall, all under future 800-game winner Dagostino. Berkeley is ranked No. 2 in the nation by MaxPreps and faces a daunting national-caliber schedule.
2. Plant: The Panthers lost a lot from their fifth straight state title team, then simply reload. Plant is ranked 17th nationally by MaxPreps, the third-highest bay area team (Berkeley and East Lake, 12th)
3. Durant: The Cougars have an experienced bunch after last season’s run to the 5A region final. The district matchup with Plant on Sept. 21 will be one of the most intriguing regular-season matches of the year.
4. Tampa Prep: The Terps could deal with some growing pains along the way, but look for them to get better as the season goes along and compete for another state title.
5. Riverview: Led by one of the county’s top players in Burrington, the Sharks are clear district favorites and have the promise to go far in Class 7A.