The Altoona Area High School boys volleyball team had a banner season in 2012, posting a 14-1 overall record and a 14-0 record in the Mid-State Boys Volleyball League.
The Mountain Lions' only loss last season occurred at the hands of State College in the District 6-AAA championship match.
Altoona faces a rebuilding task in 2013, with just two starters - senior setter Tanner Baumgartner and sophomore outside hitter Brett Koelle - returning.
But John Saboe begins his 10th season as Altoona's coach with plenty of optimism.
"We have the potential to have a great season,'' he said. "As always, we have goals to win the league, a District 6 championship, and a PIAA championship as well.''
Sixth-year Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School coach Bob Kasun is also eyeing the upcoming season positively, with District 6-AA championship hopes on the radar.
The Marauders graduated a solid senior nucleus last spring, but they return six starters, all juniors, from last season's 10-9 team.
After serving as Central's assistant coach from 1992-2005, Ken Streilein assumes the Scarlet Dragons' head coaching duties this spring. Central returns four starters from last year's team that won just one of 16 matches, but Streilein feels that he has the makings of a competitive squad this season.
Third-year Northern Cambria coach Mike Hogan returns an excellent core of players from last season's 13-8 team, which won the District 6-AA title for the second straight season. Returning starters or players who saw significant playing time for the Colts last year are seniors Brennan Carroll, Nick Lee, Jeff Hogan, Alex Atkins, Tyler Olish, and Tyler Hartman.
Team improvement is on the mind of second-year Huntingdon coach Mike Sellers, whose Bearcats won just two of 14 matches last spring. Huntingdon returns a decent nucleus of three senior starters and three other veterans who saw a considerable amount of playing time last year.
Following is a closer look at each of the five area teams:
Coach: John Saboe, 10th season
Career record: 103-41
Last year's record: 14-1 overall, 14-0 MSBVL
Returning starters: Tanner Baumgartner, sr., setter; Brett Koehle, soph., outside hitter
Other returning starters: Allen Borst, soph., outside hitter; Kody Clawson, soph., libero; Josh Huber, jr. middle hitter; Ethan Knepp, sr., outside hitter/defensive specialist; James Piaggo, jr., middle hitter; Justin Perino, jr., setter/defensive specialist; Aaron Smith, jr., opposite; Noah Stewart, soph., setter; Eric Wineland, soph., setter
Newcomers: Frank Perehinec, fr., outside/middle hitter; Danny Over, fr., libero; Josh Over, fr., outside/defensive specialist; Zach Over, fr., middle hitter; Tyler Wray, jr., outside hitter
Strengths: "This is a very talented group of young men who are working hard in the gym."
Concerns: "We are replacing almost our entire lineup from last year, so we have to develop the on-court chemistry that translates into success for most teams."
Overall outlook: "We have the potential to have a great season. We may run into a few bumps in the road as we start the season and work to develop the team chemistry and find the best lineup for the end of the season. We are also very lucky to have a number of young kids who are pushing to work themselves on to the varsity court that will continue to make us a better team. As always, we have goals to win the league, a District 6 championship, and a PIAA championship as well."
Assistant coaches: Wade Baumgartner, Chris Keagy, Chris Perino, Dan Roberts
Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic
Coach: Bob Kasun
Career record: 33-52, sixth season
Last year's record: 10-9 overall, 8-6 MSBVL
Returning starters: Jamey Brumbaugh, jr., outside hitter; C.J. Fulare, jr., right side hitter; Ben Kasun, jr., setter; Nick Little, jr., middle hitter; Damon Rickens, jr., outside hitter
Other returnees: Robbie Gallagher, jr., middle hitter; Andrew Good, jr., right side hitter; Brennan Hurd, jr., setter/defensive specialist; Kohl Kimberly, jr., libero; Frank Macharola, jr., middle hitter; Zach McClure, jr., outside hitter; Brendan Trybus, jr., libero. Nick Hofer, soph., libero; Adam Horell, soph., right side hitter; Anthony Shank, soph., middle hitter
Newcomers: Jimmy Burke, fr., middle hitter; Sean Donoughe, fr., outside hitter; Alex Gburek, fr., setter; Tevin Grove, fr., libero; Sam Keating, fr., outside hitter; Dakota Leamer, fr., middle hitter; Chancelor Little, fr., libero; Dustin Smith, fr., setter/right side hitter; Collin Welteroth, fr., middle hitter
Strengths: "We have a core group of starters returning, and we've had strong competition at practice."
Concerns: "Replacing talent and leadership from last year's senior class."
Overall outlook: "We should be in the thick of the District 6, Class AA championship race. We are excited about the prospects of this year's team."
Assistant coaches: Brandin McDonough, Audrey McDonough, Dave Rito, Alex Sadler
Coach: Ken Streilein, first season
Career record: 0-0
Last year's record: 1-15
Returning starters: Chris Brumbaugh, sr., setter; Ronnie Dibert, jr., outside hitter; Josh Link, jr., middle hitter; Matt Price, jr., middle hitter
Other returnees: None
Newcomers: Dillon Appleman, fr., middle hitter; Austin Berkheimer, fr., outside hitter; Gabrielle Berti, sr, right side hitter; Steven Bowman, fr, outside hitter; Jacob Davis, soph., right side hitter; Seth Gunnett, fr, defensive specialist; Matt Knauss, fr, outside hitter; Dave Link, fr, right side hitter; Ozzie Little, fr., outside hitter; Xavier Maslowski, fr, middle hitter
Strengths: "Athleticism. I am impressed with the athletic ability of our players. We are few in numbers, but that will allow for quicker development of our younger players."
Concerns: "Youth, inexperience, and injuries. With only four returning players, we will have at least two first-year players on the court for every rally. And with only 12 players on the roster, we can't afford to lose anyone for very long."
Overall outlook: "I expect us to be inconsistent in our play at the beginning of the season until we figure out our best lineup. If we are able to control our passing, I think that we have the capability of being a pretty competitive team."
Assistant coaches: None
Coach: Mike Sellers, second year
Career record: 2-12
Last year's record: 2-12
Returning starters: Greg Kurtz, sr., middle hitter; Yogi Lovett, sr., setter/outside hitter; Kevin Neal, sr., setter/outside hitter.
Other returnees: Owen Brown, jr., middle hitter; Richard Schmeck, jr., opposite hitter; Michael Sharp, sr., defensive specialist
Newcomers: Tyler Grubb, soph., outside hitter/setter; Alex Guyer, fr., middle hitter; Ian Kidd, jr., opposite hitter; Xander Mansberger, fr., opposite hitter; Nick McKim, soph., outside hitter/setter; Michael Sulesky, soph., middle hitter; Aaron Thompson, soph., opposite hitter
Strengths: "We have a very athletic group, with strong leadership from our seniors."
Concerns: "With only three returning lettermen and 13 players on our roster, we're again looking for newcomers to step up on the varsity level and help us compete."
Overall outlook: "I'm expecting to be competitive in the Mid-State League and to better our 2-12 record from last season."
Assistant coaches: Gina Sellers, Alix Sellers, Lori Heaton
Coach: Mike Hogan, third season
Career record: 23-13
Last year's record: 13-8
Returning starters: Alex Atkins, sr., middle hitter; Brennan Carroll, sr., middle hitter; Jeff Hogan, sr., outside hitter; Nick Lee, sr., right side hitter/setter; Tyler Hartman, sr., libero/outside hitter; Tyler Olish, sr., middle/outside hitter
Other returnees: Zach Lee, jr., setter/libero; Adam Polites, sr., outside hitter; Noah Tomallo, soph., libero; Kevin Zedack, sr., right side hitter
Strengths: "I'm very fortunate to be working with a group of gifted athletes. Our athleticism and competitiveness are our strong points. We have a group of kids who are bringing in a winning attitude, and we have experience. We've won two district titles in a row, so we have guys who have been there before, who know what it's like, and we're going to count on them to be the strength of our team."
Concerns: "Every team is concerned about injuries. We have to improve as the season goes on. A lot of our guys are coming in late from the state playoffs in basketball, so they're missing some timing and reps in volleyball. Spring is always a challenging time to coach, but if this team stays focused throughout the ups and downs of the regular season, it could be very good in late spring."
Overall outlook: "We have high goals for this year. We have a large senior group, and guys who have trained hard in the offseason. We have a competitive schedule, but if we take advantage of those opportunities to improve our game, we will be an experienced, athletic team heading into the playoffs. We know it will be a challenge, but we have high hopes for this year."
Assistant coach: Jay Carroll