While Lancaster has held bragging rights over Clarence the last few years, the tide may be shifting.
Lancaster, which won the state title last year with a 23-0 record, saw its winning streak come to an end in the first game of the season. The Redskins lost to City Honors in the opener.
Though many say Lancaster still is the team to beat, it's young this year with only one senior, middle hitter Amanda Dux, and she's out until the middle of September with a broken foot. All-WNY selection Lindsey Schlegel leads the team filled with six juniors and six sophomores.
Clarence has three standout seniors, led by outside hitter Stephanie Turner. A four-year starter and two-time All-WNY selection, Turner already has committed to Division I East Carolina University. Victoria Petko and Justine Swanson help make Clarence a dangerous team.
Don't count Frontier out of the mix, especially with senior outside hitter Lindsey Gleason.
Niagara Frontier battles
While Lockport was the early favorite of coaches in the Niagara Frontier League this season, watch out for surging North Tonawanda.
The Lady Jacks return four players, led by junior outside hitter Shannon Wilson. Lockport's Lions, who went 14-0 in league play last year, return senior setter Maria Mangine.
Back to states?
Starpoint reached its first Final Four last year and looks good enough, and hungry enough, to get back to the state tournament. The buzz is around senior outside hitter Allie Matters and junior middle hitter Amanda Boron.
It looks like Eden, the defending Far West Regional B champion, is the early favorite in that class, though the Raiders are young this year. That leaves an opening for City Honors, which lost to Eden in the Class B semifinals last year.
City Honors continues to be the class of the Buffalo Public Schools. The Centaurs have won 20 straight Buffalo Public titles. With an upset of Lancaster to open the season, City Honors announced that once again it is for real. Watch senior Chandra Roberson, who has athletic skills and a presence at the net that has opposing coaches eagerly waiting for her graduation.
Look for a repeat of St. Mary's and Nardin fighting it out for the top spot. Last year, Nardin beat St. Mary's in the finals while St. Mary's returned the favor when the teams met in the state Catholic championships.
The clash of the volleyball titans, otherwise known as the Lancaster-Clarence matches, are scheduled for Sept. 20 at Lancaster and Oct. 11 at Clarence. . . . Top tournaments set for this season include: Frontier and Clarence tournaments Sept. 17, Sweet Home Tournament on Sept. 24, Eden Tournament on Oct. 1, and the North Tonawanda Tournament on Oct. 15.
The girls' sectional tournament is reverting back to high school sites. After playing in college settings, mostly at Buffalo State, officials noted the tournament has not drawing enough spectators to justify using larger venues. This year, the Class AA, A and B finals will be held at North Tonawanda. The site of the Class C and D finals will be in the Southern Tier, at a location to be determined.
Compiled by News Sports Reporter Amy Moritz