This is a big transition year for most of the usual suspects after graduating a large chunk of talent, so expect some surprises and rising talent as we make a dent in the season.
To date, here are some interesting tidbits on the high school boys' volleyball scene:
1. Penrose sets sights on Penn State -- Cambridge senior captain and one of the program's best has been offered a full ride to Penn State's Division 1 program. Penrose was the catalyst in last season's state championship run, leading the state in kills (499). Penrose, who leads the state with 126 kills this season, is the biggest individual threat squad's are keeping an eye on. His fellow setter and co-captain, Rodolfo Bonates, has committed to Sacred Heart and has been the glue that has sealed a five-game unbeaten streak to start the season. This duo is the favorite to watch this season and expect banners with their names at Cambridge as both steer to set program records.
3. North Quincy plays to win -- It's no surprise the Red Raiders are off to a great start with five straight wins, already setting the bar in the Quincy/North Quincy rivalry. The team took their season opener, 3-1, after senior captain Mike Pran and junior middle hitter Efthim Butka executed a combined 24 kills. I would expect them to clear a straight path to the tournament.
3. Milford manages early streak -- The Hawks, who were denied a state championship title last season in the final stage, are "the" squad to beat. The team is undefeated at 9-0 and has a tier of upperclassmen -- Michael Soares (61 kills), Kane Wittorff (87 kills) and Michael Antonellis (58 kills) -- that will provide a big threat against unbeaten Westford (Friday) and St. John's Prep Apr. 22).
4. St. John's prep, a contender -- St. John's Prep coach Scott Celli has had a taste of victory with his Melrose girls' program winning their first Division 2 state championship, and it's time to bring that luck to the boys' side. The 2011 Massachusetts Girls’ Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Inductee is off to a strong start with a six-game streak. As anticipated, senior Brian Keogh is setting the bar with 90 kills, a season-high 22 in the season opener. Senior Sean Brennan averages 8.7 sets per game.
5. Lawrence is loaded -- Despite a season opener 3-1 loss to Milford, Lawrence is the strongest squad in the Merrimack Valley Conference returning this season after a 17-4 run to the North quarterfinals. The Lancers have four returning starters Anibal Henriquez, Christian Mayi, and MVC All-Stars Reibin Hiraldo and Jeyson Henriquez under 16-year head coach Tony Hajjar, who sports a 236-92 record. The Lancers will get to showcase their talent and experience in their first MVC matchup against Haverhill Friday.
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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.