Haverhill has really proven itself to be the best boys' volleyball team in Eastern Mass. with a perfect 17-game streak, losing one set the entire season. The Hillies will be the team to beat as they look for a second chance at a state title after falling 3-2 to Lincoln-Sudbury last season. Tournament pairings come out Tuesday.
Drew Caruso, Kevin Hirschfeld and James Murray are a trio to look out for, all ranking among the top hitting leaders in the state.
It's no surprise that No. 2 Newton North and No. 4 Lincoln-Sudbury fall close behind. The Tigers (16-1) handed Needham a loss last week to keep the Bay State Conference power in the rankings at No. 2 and with high hopes intering tournament play.
The Warriors (16-1) were bumped down a spot to squeeze in third-ranked North Quincy (16-0), another undefeated team, which was a first for the school's program.
The tournament will be a big test for North Quincy, who has not seen the level of competition like other Top 10 teams.
Lincoln-Sudbury returns to familiar territory and will need to put forth big numbers from the team's outside hitters to defend their state title.
Although St. John's Prep falls in fifth, the Eagles had one of the most impressive weeks after avenging earlier season losses to Xaverian and BC High. Their progress in the tournament will certainly reflect the new coaching under Scott Celli.
No. 6 Lawrence has the potential to pick up some momentum after a 13-3 season, but they could shift either way.
Despite a few strikes in the loss column, seventh-ranked Cambridge (15-3) is a threat to watch out for.
Jalen Penrose is a big playmaker, totaling 315 kills this season and behind him are Robbie Buderi (158 kills) and Kevin Lovaincy (175 kills) to lead the squad. Cambridge has taken down Lincoln-Sudbury, Newton South, and St. John's Prep in the regular season, meaning the Falcons know how to compete.
Needham and Xaverian dropped in the rankings after losses this week. Both teams emerged as resilient contenders in the beginning of the season, but have had their share of few bumpy losses.
Newton South sits at the bottom of the rankings at 14-6 with a few wins against ranked teams such as Cambridge.
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.