Chicopee Comp (14-3) snapped a 23-year title drought with a state championship last season with a 19-0 season, but the Colts will have plenty of competition this season.
Agawam (19-0) beat he Colts in both regular season matches (3-1, 3-0). Unless West Springfield (15-3) goes on a run, fans can look forward to a Chicopee Comp v. Agawam sectional final.
For the North, the team to beat this year is Haverhill, which slipped up against Central Catholic after a 16-game winning streak. The Hillies (17-1) have a squad loaded with upperclassmen and should advance further than last year's quarterfinal run.
Lawrence (18-2) is a team to watch, with its only regular season losses to Haverhill (3-2, 3-0).
The South is where things get a little shaky.
The top four seeded teams, Barnstable, Newton North, North Quincy, and Newton South, are all contenders.
Barnstable (16-2) had an undefeated run last year into the semifinals and has had consistent play in the regular season despite losing to North Quincy (3-0).
North Quincy (12-3) and Newton North (14-2) also have been solid, but ultimately, Newton South has the experience and the strength.
Newton South (16-4) has fourteen consecutive tournament appearances but hasn't won a league title in 11 years. The Lions will count on senior Josh Horenstein in the back row (257 kills, 225 digs, 21 aces) last season.
As for Central, if 15-1 Lincoln-Sudbury, which had a perfect run despite a season-opening loss, can charge up the Swords-Houpt duo, the Warriors will ease past their semifinal spot last year. These two athletes will be players to watch throughout the tournament. The only threat in the way of a Warriors sectional championship would be state finalist Natick, which had a 14-2 season.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail email@example.com.