Coach: Barb Cicotte
Last season: 5-9 overall, 5-8 NWC
Players to watch: OH Amy Jones Sr., MB Hannah Holtgeerts Jr.
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Outlook: The Seahawks lost one of their best players to the soccer team this season when Brittany Janz decided she prefers the pitch to the court. She was a leader and an important part of that team. Jones is the only senior on the team and while Anacortes adjusts to new faces and new roles it could take some lumps.
BELLINGHAM RED RAIDERS
Coach: Nikki Lockhart
Last season: 4-13 overall, 3-10 NWC
Players to watch: MB Krista Brock Sr., MB Jamie Pearsall Sr., S Devin Pearsall So., OH Mia Barklind Jr.
Outlook: The Red Raiders have a new coach and a new attitude. Now they are hoping that a few more wins come with those changes. Bellingham will be strong in the middle with Brock and Jamie Pearsall back. Becoming better passers has been a focus for this team, and that should pay immediate dividends.
Coach: Nikki Hallberg
Last season: 2-12 overall, 2-11 NWC
Players to watch: OH Veronica Rooney Jr., S Ariel Fisher Sr., L Jessica Wallen Jr.Outlook: The Borderites are still building and should be an improved team from last season. They have a solid group of juniors returning including Rooney and Wallen. Blaine should be able to grab a couple more conference wins this season and could sneak into the district tourna-ment.
Coach: Tawnya Brewer
Last season: 21-1 overall, 13-0 NWC, fifth at the state tournament in Class 2A
Players to watch: S Anna Fohn Sr., OH Ariel Erlenbach Sr., MB Kinsey Davis Jr.
Outlook: The Tigers were easily the best team in the NWC last season and could be again this year. Their top player, Erlenbach, is back, and Fohn is a top setter. They are surrounded by a talented bunch. A return trip to state is likely as is some more hardware.
FERNDALE GOLDEN EAGLES
Coach: Patti Hoelzle
Last season: 11-8 overall, 8-5 NWC
Players to watch: S Sarah Cicchitti Sr., MB Ashley Honeycutt Jr., L Alyssa Locker Sr., OH Carleigh Newman Sr.
Outlook: The Golden Eagles just missed a trip to the state tournament last season and will be looking to take that next step. Cicchitti was one of the best players in the NWC last season, and Honeycutt developed into a solid stopper in the middle. The team boasts five seniors and some solid juniors. The Class 3A race could be interesting.
Coach: Chris Elsner
Last season: 16-6 overall, 11-2 NWC, finished eighth at the Class 2A state tournament
Players to watch: OH Jessi Roberts Jr., MB Averyl Shindruk Jr., OH Hannah Swanson Jr., RS Becki Lindquist Sr.
Outlook: Lynden might have the most talent in the conference; it’s just going to be a matter of how things come together for this group. Last year’s talented group of sophomores are now juniors, and some of the expectations will change. Roberts was the best player in the NWC, but have she and the rest of her teammates improved? If so, the Lions should be considered state title contenders.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN LYNCS
Coach: Kim Grycel
Last season: 20-5 overall, 11-2 NWC, finished fifth at state in Class 1A
Players to watch: S Brianne Ryan Sr., L Carla VanderWoude Sr., RS Kelsie Meenderinck Sr., OH Kristi Gross, Sr.
Outlook: The Lyncs graduated two first-team all-league players last season, but still return enough talent to make a run at a state title. Ryan is one of the best players in the NWC, and the team is confident in its hitters. With seven sen-iors on the roster they should be a mature bunch.
Coach: Courtney Stacy
Last season: 6-10 overall, 4-9 NWC
Players to watch: S Emily Slesk Sr., MB Eliz Mattison Sr., OH Liz Guthridge Sr., OH Lindsay Hopp Sr.
Outlook: The Trojans bring back six seniors with varsity experience and should be improved. Slesk will be control-ling the floor from the setter position, and the senior will have a host of attackers at her disposal. Guthridge and Hopp will be options at outside hitter, and Mattison will be in the middle. Meridian isn’t the state contender it was in the past, but the program is building and should have a good year.
MOUNT BAKER MOUNTAINEERS
Coach: Renata Detta
Last season: 10-7 overall, 9-4 NWC
Players to watch: S Courtney Van Brock-lin Sr., MB Arahaka Rozeboom-Gunderson, Sr., MB Brianna Wilson Sr., OH Mikaela Yeomans Jr.
Outlook: The Mountaineers return a strong group of seniors and juniors and should have high expectations this sea-son. Two-time All-State player Van Brock-lin is back and brings tremendous athleti-cism to the setter position. Rozeboom-Gunderson and Wilson will be expected to put the ball down in the middle. A trip to the state tournament is a realistic possi-bility.
MOUNT VERNON BULLDOGS
Coach: Debbie Guildner
Last season: 13-6 overall, 10-4 NWC
Players to watch: MB Caitlin Gusa Sr., MB Amber Johnson Sr., L Carly Feiro Sr.
Outlook: The Bulldogs just missed out on a state berth last season, but return enough talent to make another push. Mount Vernon will be tough in the middle with Johnson and Gusa providing experi-ence as returning starters. They’ll be tough to beat and should be the favorite Class 3A team in the conference.
NOOKSACK VALLEY PIONEERS
Coach: Allison Mitchell
Last season: 7-11 overall, 4-9 NWC
Players to watch: MB Erika Ramstead Jr., OH Lesley Soto Sr., DS Kelsey Lambert Jr.
Outlook: The Pioneers have two honor-able mention all-NWC players to build around in Ramstead and Soto and have enough other pieces to be a very competi-tive team. Nooksack Valley had its ups and downs against the larger schools last season, but could be a deeper team this year and that should help. Coach Mitchell says consistency and maturity should be two of this team’s strong points.
Coach: Doug Pass
Last season: 1-13 overall, 0-13 NWC
Players to watch: S Megan Dralle Jr., OH Kara Birdsell Jr., MB Ashley Joneli Jr.
Outlook: The Cubs will be looking for their first NWC win after going 0-13 last sea-son. Sedro-Woolley has a new coach and that could help after last year’s tough season. They have a lot to work on but should be improved by the end of the season.
Coach: Steve Evans
Last season: 12-9 overall, 8-5 NWC, advanced to the Class 2A state tournament
Players to watch: S Madisyn Leenstra Jr., OH Emelia Henrichs Sr., L Anna Helberg-Sather Sr.
Outlook: The Mariners reached the state tournament last season but ran into some tough competition, losing their first two matches. Sehome is hoping to return this year and have a better showing. They are tall and have a decent bench. Leenstra is developing into one of the better setters in the NWC.
Coach: Donja Walker
Last season: 4-12 overall, 4-9 NWC
Players to watch: OH Dani Lindsay Sr., MB Tiffane Staley Sr., RS Nicola Follis So., MB Taylor Ulrich So.
Outlook: The Storm feels like it had the defense last year to make a run at the district tournament, but the offense wasn’t strong enough. Squalicum has been working on fixing that and could be a surprise this season. The team lost six seniors, but a strong core, led by Lindsay and Follis, is back. The Storm played teams close last season and is hoping this is the year things really start to come together.