Coach: Diana Story.
Last year: 19-5.
Top returners: S Stacey Sviatko, Sr.; OH Brie West, Sr.
Outlook: The Falcons prepare for their first fall season in the AAA in six years with two talented seniors and a number of able underclassmen. Fauquier finished second in the AA Northwestern District last season before losing in the first round of the regional tournament. Grouped in the Commonwealth District that includes a number of first-year programs, Fauquier expects to improve upon last year's mark. "It is going to be a test to see how far we can go in our new district," Story said. "[We have] to make sure they are playing the type of volleyball they should be playing . . ."
Coach: Jacque Southerland.
Last year: 0-17.
Top returners: OH Michelle Matz, Sr.; S Rosa Shelton, Jr.
Outlook: First-year coach Southerland is confident that two veteran players combined with a good crop of youngsters will lead to an improvement upon last year's winless season. The talent is there, Southerland said, but it is just a matter of building confidence and gaining experience. "We have a lot of really good girls that work real hard but have just not had a lot of success at winning," she said. "It's probably another building year, but already we have seen a vast improvement in ability and determination. They are not easily discouraged. We might surprise some teams this year."
Coach: Jennifer Lentek.
Last year: 3-14.
Top returners: MH Charlotte Kramer, Sr.; S Jen Leonard, Soph.; S Amy Taylor, Sr.
Outlook: The Hawks have the tools to improve upon last year's dismal season, and first-year coach Lentek said spirits have been high through the first four weeks of practice. "Every time we work on a different skill . . . everyone is right there," Lentek said. "Everyone wants to play--I guess that's the best thing so far. At the end of practice everyone is asking if they can stay and play some more three-on-three." Leonard and Kramer should form a solid setter-hitter combination, and Lentek says she "can put anyone at any position, and I feel confident they will be all right."
LEESBURG CHRISTIAN LIONS
Coach: Laura Baird.
Last year: 4-8.
Top returners: S Alicia Zarou, Sr.; S-OH Sheree Zarou, Soph.; OH Tyler Fitzhugh, Soph.; DS Robyn Baird, Seventh-Grader.
Outlook: The Lions are used to adversity. They have practiced and played all their matches on an outdoor court since a fire two years ago left the small private school without a gym. Also, Leesburg Christian's enrollment of just 137 in grades kindergarten through 12 forces the team to draw players from middle school. But one of them, Robyn Baird, will start this season as one of Leesburg Christian's top defensive players and hitters. She joins a team with just one senior and a number of underclassmen. Regardless, first-year coach Laura Baird said, "Our goals are winning."
NOTRE DAME DRAGONS
Coach: Julie Clough.
Last year: 2-12.
Top returners: DS Giovanna Rossi, Sr.; S Gabriella Lee, Sr.; OH Gillian Barton, Sr.; DS Jennifer Magallaes, Sr.
Outlook: After dropping its first two matches of the season, senior-heavy Notre Dame earned a victory last week against Highland. First-year coach Clough believes that first win will boost the team's confidence--and her own. And the Dragons should continue to improve upon last season's mark, Clough said, as they become more comfortable with each other on the court. "I remember the first day of practice I didn't know what I was walking into or how the girls would be," Clough said. "But right from the get-go we've all gotten along and have had the same goals of what we want the team to be."