Monroe’s Sarah Day (8), hits through the block of through West Valley Yakima’s Payton Jones (7) and Alyssa Smith (11), during a 4A state tournament semifinal on Nov. 17, 2018 at the Yakima Valley SunDome. (TJ Mullinax/For The Herald)

Monroe’s Sarah Day (8), hits through the block of through West Valley Yakima’s Payton Jones (7) and Alyssa Smith (11), during a 4A state tournament semifinal on Nov. 17, 2018 at the Yakima Valley SunDome. (TJ Mullinax/For The Herald)

Prep volleyball preview: 5 storylines to watch

Monroe hopes to keep its momentum under new head coach Mati Bishop.

Here’s five storylines to watch during the 2019 high school volleyball season:

Monroe resets with new coach

The Bearcats are coming off a fourth-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament, which marked the program’s best finish at state and earned the team its first state trophy since 2007. Monroe caught fire after a monumental 3-2 victory over Lake Stevens last season, which ended the Vikings’ 42-game winning streak against Wesco 4A opponents, and didn’t drop a set during the 4A Wes-King Bi-District Tournament on its way to a title.

Mati Bishop, who runs Uprising Beach Volleyball in Mukilteo, is taking over the program in 2019 in place of April Munoz, and Bishop said the team is looking to pick up where it left off last season.

Seniors Avery Davidson, Sarah Day and Brooke Barnes — a Utah Valley University commit — return to lead an experienced roster that features 10 seniors.

Snohomish eyes third straight state trophy

The Panthers have just two seniors on their 2019 roster, but that hasn’t tempered expectations for the defending Wesco 3A/2A champions.

Snohomish returns a trio of All-Wesco 3A/2A players — senior libero Lauren Riske, junior middle blocker MacKenzie Whyte and sophomore outside hitter Jasett Smith — and junior Sarah Campfield, a three-year starter, adds to what Panthers coach Alex Tarin said is a “young but very experienced” team.

A four-game stretch from Oct. 8-22 — with games against Arlington, Oak Harbor and Stanwood — will be a solid barometer for Snohomish’s postseason aspirations.

Who steps up in Wesco 3A/2A?

This season’s path to a conference championship in Wesco 3A/2A appears to go through three teams — Arlington, Oak Harbor and Snohomish. The trio has combined to go 7-0 while dropping only one set this season and the teams are three of the league’s top-four finishers from last year.

But another trio of teams — Lynnwood, Meadowdale and Everett — appear to be knocking on the door after posting nine wins each in league play last season. And don’t count out Stanwood. The Spartans are young and may have graduated the most talent from last season, including The Herald’s 2019 Volleyball Player of the Year, Devon Martinka, but Stanwood welcomes back a pair of seniors returning from injuries to help lead a squad that features 10 sophomores.

Can Lake Stevens be toppled in Wesco 4A?

The Vikings enter the season as three-time defending league champions and have lost only one league game over that span.

Lake Stevens is tasked with replacing five seniors from last year’s team that placed seventh at state and have only one senior on this year’s squad. But the Vikings have a strong and experienced junior class led by first-team all-league outside hitter Samaya Morin.

Monroe and Kamiak figure to give the Vikings a push after making runs to the state tournament last season.

Expect more King’s dominance

It’s hard to find a 1A program with a tradition as rich as the Knights’.

King’s has won three state titles since 2008 and placed at the state tournament in 15 of the past 16 years, including a third-place finish last season.

The Knights appear primed to continue their impressive run and are off to a 3-0 start with non-conference victories over a 3A opponent in Lakeside and two 4A schools (Skyline, North Creek). Senior setter Ava Mason and junior middle blocker/outside hitter Noelle Alberda give the Knights a pair of first-team all-league returners.

Coupeville and South Whidbey were the only conference teams to earn a set victory over King’s in 2018, winning one apiece.

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