Let's call the 1 p.m. match on Lindbergh Center's East court a matchup of youthful but talented teams looking to start the season off with momentum.
Southwest Christian is coming off a Class A state title, but this isn't the same team coach Greg Sayuk brought to the state tournament last fall. In fact, there will be almost no carryover that fans will recognize. But it's a tribute to the program Sayuk has built at the tiny Chaska private school that his fellow coaches voted the Stars in the preseason top-15 poll.
"While we graduated a number of great players, we have a lot of younger players that are great athletes and are incredibly committed to improving," said Sayuk, whose championship team was anchored by a strong senior class led by Class A player of the year Mackenzie Horkey, All-State setter Rachel Carlin, All-State middle Abby Palkert and outside hitter Abby Vandergalien. All have graduated, though, leaving plenty of questions around the Stars this fall.
"I think we will challenge for the conference and section titles again this year in the hopes to take another crack at a state championship," said Sayuk. "We always look towards a foundation of defense and serve receive to be successful."
One familiar face will be junior middle Ally Krommendyk, who could shoulder much of the missing offensive load, as well as sophomore defensive specialist Calli Barranger. The Stars are otherwise loaded with talented young players who have yet to see much varsity time.
Speaking of new teams rising in top programs. The 2014 season will bring a new generation to a perennially strong volleyball program in Jordan. One constant will be coach Colleen Chambers, who has overseen plenty of quality play in 26 years.
"Although an overall young team, we look to have all the pieces to put together a competitive season," said Chambers. "Returning players Brooke Sievers and Kenzie Hennen, along with the return of setter Lexie Chambers, will bring leadership to this young squad. Our tough schedule will help prepare us to compete in the postseason."
Chambers missed all of last season with an ACL injury, but looks stronger than ever upon her return. She'll take over the setter's role that Hennen filled so ably last fall, while the junior will move into a hitting position along with sophomore Ashley Freund.
Why Jordan will win:
Why Southwest Christian will win:
Our pick: Jordan in four.