The only question mark for the Lancers heading into the season was at setter as All-American Hayley Anderson has graduated. But two high-impact transfers - Ashley Dutro from Hawaii and Christa Conom from nearby Presentation - will fill that void easily. Coach Dave Gambelin's team, with a 38-match win streak, will be led by sophomore Jessica Gysin (6-0), already one of the top players in the nation, junior Colby Lyman (6-0) and sophomore Diane Copenhagen (6-2). With a tough schedule in the works, too, including a trip to the Nike Challenge in Chicago, St. Francis has the makings of a mythical national title team - maybe for three straight years.
2. Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 31-2
Courtney Schultz was the 2000 Student Sports National Junior Player of the Year and headlines a solid cast of returning starters. Schultz, a 6-2 senior already committed to Stanford, will joined in a great hitting attack by 5-11 senior Karalyn Kuchenbecker.
3. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 27-5
Coach Bret Almazan-Cezar welcomes back three key regulars in 5-10 senior setter Lindsey Sherburne, 5-10 senior outside hitter Tessa Sphar and 5-10 senior middle Brianna Koche. Watch out for newcomer K.C. Walsh, a 5-10 freshman and the final Walsh sister (Kerri, Kelli) who will go through the program.
4. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 31-7
The Monarchs return 11 seniors from a team that lost in the CIF Southern Section Div. I-A finals. Three of them are major college recruits, including 6-0 Breegan Mulligan (committed to Pepperdine), 6-0 Whitney Pavlik and 5-8 Jennifer Senske.
5. San Clemente 24-3
Four starters are back for the Tritons, led by 6-0 Katy Daly, another Pepperdine recruit. Lauren Boissevain, a 5-11 setter, and Megan Blackshire, a 6-0 middle on her way to UC Santa Barbara, are on the roster again, too. Last year's squad lost just once during the regular season.
6. Mira Costa (Manthattan Beach) 33-2
The Mustangs looked great recently at a tourney in Hawaii where they battled Mater Dei and Harvard-Westlake. Coach Dae Lea Aldrich will use a lineup that will be huge in the middle with 6-3 Hilary Stromath and 6-0 Renee Lopes and big on the outside with two more 6-0 players in Teryn Spragg and Jessica Veris.
7. Poly (Long Beach) 34-3
There's some work to be done at Poly where All-American setter Drew Robertson is among several key graduation losses. Coach Jeff Eyanson, though, does have some areas of returning strength, especially on the outside with 5-10 Jennifer Randall and 5-9 Cynthia Buggs.
8. Buchanan (Clovis) 30-2
The Bears lost the middle portion of their attack but return just about everyone else. Laura Heyne is a 5-7 senior who will be a four-year starter and 5-2 senior setter Leann Osato will be three-year starter.
9. Torrey Pines (San Diego) 29-5
This team features great size in 6-2 senior Michelle Kaufman and 6-2 junior Rachell Johnson plus all-around skill in opposite Ashley Smith, OH Chelsea Anderson and setter Quinn Dibble. Coach Larry Trupe said he thinks this year's should be better than last year.
10. Centennial (Bakersfield) 27-8
Coach Brook Roberts returns five players who played a lot last year, including all-state player Alyssa Lantz (6-0 sr. MB). Sr. OH Jackie Bernardin, a 5-5 power jumping machine, 5-8 jr. OH Lindsay Smith and left-handed RS Katie Gray (5-7 sr.) are other top players back.
Others to Watch:
Corona del Mar (Newport Beach); Deer Valley (Antioch) 20-8; Irvine; La Habra 25-6; La Reina (Thousand Oaks) 24-1; Los Gatos 24-10; Newport Harbor (Newport Beach); St. Joseph (Lakewood) 27-6; St. Mary1s (Stockton) 31-4; University (San Diego) 38-4; Woodside Priory (Portola Valley) 33-3.