Big Rivers: 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.
Heart O’North: 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