(Last year's record in parentheses)
Players to watch: Shaquille Lott, Sr., S/RS; Wyatt Patterson, Jr., MH; Kevin Noe, Sr., L.
Outlook: The future is looking bright for the Vikings, who graduated two seniors from last year's team. Noe was an all-conference libero last season, while Patterson is a rapidly improving middle hitter who is in his third year with the varsity. While the Vikings should improve their mark from 2011, the fact that only two of their players play club volleyball will make it hard to compete with the upper echelon teams of the SouthWest Suburban Conference.
Quote: "There should be reasonable improvement this year. Typically, we are not a very good passing team, so that is something we will need to improve on." !~ coach Brandon Cotter
Players to watch: Kyle Vanderzee, Sr., OH; Mark Tiemersma, Sr., MH; Caleb Clausing, Sr., RS/L
Outlook: An experienced frontline, starting with the return of Vanderzee and Tiemersma, should make the Vikings competitive during their season as an independent. Coach Nikki Van Dyke said the team chemistry has been very good during the preseason. Van Dyke said the players on her roster this season are very versatile, which will offer interesting substitution options for her.
Quote: "Our offensive game should be more crisp than last year, but we will need to have good ball control this season." !~ Van Dyke
MARIAN CATHOLIC (15-16)
Players to watch: Will Craft, Sr., OH; Jason Kint, Sr., MH; Matt Novosel, Sr., S; Sean McGlone, So., RS/OH.
Outlook: The Spartans return five starters from last season, and have made a marked improvement from the 2010 team. Craft is a three-year starter and was all-East Suburban Catholic last year. Second-year coach Bob Piekarski has given this year's setting duties to Novosel and sophomore Jake Piekarski. Coach Piekarski said the strength of the lineup during preseason has been finishing and blocking, but the team's ability to defend and move the ball should determine the team's fate against a rugged league schedule.
Quote: "We're hoping to improve again this year. The players coming back have add the advantage of going through the jump and strength training we offered them in the off-season, so that should help." !~ Piekarski.
MOUNT CARMEL (11-20)
Players to watch: Bob Walsh, Sr., OH; Matt Walsh, So., MH; Dominic Villa, Jr., S; Garret McGarry, Sr., MH.
Outlook: The Caravan have nowhere to go but up in the Chicago Catholic League, where they only won one game last season. The team returns five starters from last year's team. The frontline is experienced and with good size; Walsh and McGarry both have college commitments to play the sport next season. Back row ball control could dictate the success of the Caravan this season.
Quote: "We were young last year and lacked leadership, but this year I can already see some of the returning starters taking the leadership role." !~ coach Marco Quintana
THORNTON FRACTIONAL (3-26)
Players to watch: Kurtis Van Kuiken, Sr., S; John Davis, Sr., OH; Tevin Stephenson, Sr., MH; Allen White, Sr., L/DS.
Outlook: Twenty players, including five returners, came out for the team in the preseason. The joint team of Thornton Fractional North and South high schools won't have a lot of size this season, but should improve on last year's mark. Van Kuiken was all-conference last year and led the team in assists.
Quote: "Because of our size, we will be adept at adjusting to situations. Last year, we were inexperienced, but this year we should be competitive." !~ coach Peg Haney
NOTE: Washington did not provided information.
!~ Compiled by Vince Vosti