Chippewa Falls aims to compete with the top of the Big Rivers in its second season under Luke Heidtke. The Cardinals went 21-16 last year and finished third in the conference but need to replace Lydia Steinmetz and Sophie Heller. Helping the case is Madie Gardow, who recorded 171 kills and 56 blocks as a junior, and Jazmine Johnson, who had 57 kills and 29 blocks as a sophomore. ... Eau Claire Memorial enters year No. 20 under Kris Chapman. The Old Abes will have to replace a pair of all-conference graduates in Hanna Nilssen and Hannah Lee this year, so Chapman is counting on Anna Hansen, Kayla Sorensen and Alli Winters to have big seasons. ... Hudson will be led by seniors Noelle -Kiltie and Kaitlyn Zignego who earned second team all-conference and all-conference honorable mention honors last year. ... Menomonie will look to replace second team all-conference player Kylie Mogen this season. ... Rice Lake went 3-3 in conference last season led by Jasmine Mlejnek who earned first team all-conference honors as a senior last year. ... River Falls is expected to be the Big Rivers’ top team in 2019. The Wildcats fell short of reaching the state title match last season, but coach Sara Kealy expects her team to be right back in the thick of the competition this year. Her squad returns four NCAA volleyball commits, including Halle Olson, Emily Banitt, Anna Wolf, and Maddy Kealy.
Altoona took the top spot in last year’s Western Cloverbelt with a perfect 7-0 conference record. This year, however, the Rails will have to replace a pair of first team all conference players in Lydia Berseth and Izzy Hendricks. Averie Varsho, the team’s top underclassman, will be required to step up in her junior year. ... Cadott is looking to make a major step forward after going 9-27 overall and 1-6 in conference last season. James Bremness, entering his second year, said 2018 was about changing the culture. Now its time to apply the knowledge they’ve learned. Autumn Bremness returns after earning second-team all-conference honors, while Abby Eiler brings back plenty of experience after playing in every match as a setter last year. Jada Kowalczyk, Makenna Barone and Hallie Solie make up the front attack and blocking team. ... Fall Creek returns their entire 2018 squad, which went 30-7 and finished third in the cloverbelt. That’s helped the Crickets get out to a red-hot 16-1 start to the season. Gianna Vollrah returns after notching 242 kills and 58 blocks, while Malerie Vining was closely behind in the attacking department with 320 kills. Settler/right side hitter Quinlyn Rubeck had 469 assists and 290 digs as a junior. Coach Matt Prissel said the team is led by a tight-knit group of seniors that have played a lot of volleyball together. … McDonell is coming off a 24-17 led by then-sophomore Maggie Craker. Craker was a first team all-conference player last season and will be counted on once again for the Macks. ... Osseo-Fairchild went 7-13 last year and 2-5 in the conference. The Thunder will have to replace second team all-conference player Sophia Filla. ... Regis will have to replace last year’s Western Cloverbelt’s 2018 player of the year in Grace Gilles along with fellow first team all-conference player Teryn Karlstad. They will, however, have a pair of second team all-conference players back in Elizabeth Matson and Bria Thalacker. ... Stanley-Boyd will have sophomore Lilly Hoel back this year after an all-conference honorable mention season last year. ... Thorp will be led by Brianne Hallin who was an all-conference honorable mention as a junior last season.
Boyceville will be counting on 2018 all-conference honorable mention Hannah Johnson. She will have to help replace Jaida Peterson who earned second team all-conference honors last year. ... Colfax is coming off its sixth consecutive conference championship after going a perfect 8-0 last season and return all but two players, first-team all-conference pick Alyssa Dachel and honorable mention Savannah Henricks. The returning crew includes three first-team all-conference picks in hitter/setter Kameri Meredith, middle blocker Samantha Pretasky and hitter Rachel Scharlau. Coach Pamela Meredith said the team knows there is a target on their back so they’re focusing on developing players’ ability to deal with stressful situations. Elk Mound is coming off a 7-1 season and the Mounders are hoping to challenge Colfax for the conference title. Fifth-year head coach Samantha Stelter will have to replace the Leader-Telegram’s reigning All-Northwest player of the year in Morgan Radtke, who is playing volleyball at Michigan Tech this year. Kortnee Halgren, McKenna Diermeier, Sophie Cedarblade, Hailey Blaskowski and Maggie Bartig will do most of the heavy lifting for the Mounders this year. ... Elmwood/Plum City enters its first season as a co-op for volleyball, a move made to give the team an opportunity to be more competitive in the Dunn-St. Croix. Elmwood went 2-6 and Plum City 1-7 last season. ... Glenwood City will look to replace Delaney Quinn who earned an all-conference honorable mention as a senior last year. ... Mondovi returns junior Macayla Thompson who was named a second team all-conference player last season. ... Spring Valley will be led by senior Alyxis Johansen who earned first team all-conferences honors last season and senior Mataya Kado who was an honorable mention for the all-conference team.
Augusta went 5-4 last season but needs to replace Ashlyn Korger, a first-team all-conference selection. Thankfully for the Beavers, they return second-team all-conference selection Chloe Jacobs. The team ended the conference slate last year on a two-game winning streak. … Blair-Taylor finished in the middle of the pack last year at 5-4 in conference but needs to replace its only all-conference selection, first-teamer Danyelle Waldera. Most of the team’s success in 2018 came in conference, as the Wildcats earned five of their eight victories against Dairyland foes. … Independence looks to rebound after an 0-9 season in the league last year, a two-win decrease from the year prior. ... Eau Claire Immanuel has a strong mix of youth and experience after finishing second in the conference with an 8-2 record in 2018. Brynn Schienenbeck was an all-Dairyland first-team selection last season after recording 219 kills and 390 assists and will be complimented well by Faith Kazemba (309 digs in 2018), Annie Oster (170 kills) and Erica Oster, who recorded 161 kills and was a second-team all-conference selection. The Lancers, who hope to improve in their blocking, need to replace another first-team selection in Alexus Aichele. ... Eleva-Strum boasted the only freshman on either all-conference team last year in setter Grace Clark. As a team, the Cardinals are coming off a 3-7 year in the conference and 10-14 year overall. … Gilmanton went 1-9 in conference in its first year under Courtney Shirer, but the squad’s coach is excited with the experience her seven seniors have accumulated. Marli Evans returns after notching 78 kills, 35 services aces and 212 digs, while Taylor Hovey brings back a 93% serving success rate and is healthy again. ... Whitehall went 3-7 in the league but returns an all-conference second-teamer in now-senior Mykensie Beighley. There’s some momentum to build off of after the Norse won their last two conference games over Independence and Eleva-Strum.
Barron earned a co-conference championship with Bloomer at 13-1 but needs to replace big pieces in first-team all-conference selections Emily Linsmeyer and Lydia Miller. Julia Wirth is the only all-conference selection back, as the setter is a senior. ... Bloomer should be the Heart O’North’s best team this season after capturing the conference’s top spot last year. The team, however, might have to deal with some inexperienced after losing five key seniors. This year, Emma Krecji, Larissa Fossum and Josie Kostner will be expected to lead the way for the Blackhawks. ... Chetek-Weyerhaeser is expected to be among the top teams in the Heart O’North this season. Head coach Heather Bohl has Maggie Reisner back this season, after Reisner made second team All-Conference last year with 134 kills, 204 digs and 28 blocks. All-Conference honorable mention Madeleine Schofield is also back after connecting on 97.7% of her serves last year. She had 26 aces along with 112 kills and 284 digs. ... Cumberland, which finished third in the conference last year at 9-5, had the only non-senior on the all-conference first team last year in middle hitter Ania Hyatt. The Beavers need to replace an additional two all-conference selections, however, in second-team setter Isabella West and honorable mention outside hitter Lauren Green. … Ladysmith is coming off a 7-7 conference record, good for fifth in the conference, and returns its second-team all-conference setter Faith Meltz.
—Previews by Aaron Rose and Jack Goods, based on information from area coaches