The Chaska girls volleyball team practices Thursday morning at Chaska Senior High School. ] (Matthew Hintz, 082114, Chaska)
High school volleyball teams in the west metro boast considerable talent and promise this season. Here are some insights into top teams, players who rank among the best and up-and-coming, and some of the key matches:
1. Chaska: A disappointing end to a terrific 2013 campaign adds motivation to this senior-heavy bunch.
2. Eden Prairie: The Eagles parlayed a team-first, no-superstar system into a state tournament berth in 2013. That team is a year older and a year better.
3. Hopkins: The final go-round for All-America setter Samantha Seliger Swenson.
4. Delano: Despite losing All-Metro middle hitter Shelby Seuer to graduation, the Tigers have enough returning to give them a chance to repeat their run to the Class 3A title match.
5. Waconia: Senior outside hitter Jessica Wolf led the Wildcats to a three-set victory over Edina on Saturday.
6. Edina: With 6-4 outside hitter Jordan Thompson eligible, the veteran Hornets are poised for a breakout season
7. Minnetonka: Senior outside hitter Caroline Shelquist is as adept on the volleyball court as she is on the basketball court.
8. Chanhassen: The Storm boasts a pair of senior superstars in outside hitter Dani Gitzen and libero Taylor Soine.
9. Osseo: Plenty of frontline talent, but the Orioles need to quickly develop a new setter.
10. Wayzata: Keep watch on sophomore outside hitter Katie Berg, who has all-state potential.
Five big names
Samantha Seliger Swenson, Hopkins, Setter, sr.: A veteran of USA National and international teams. Headed to Minnesota.
Sarah Kelly, Chaska, MH, sr.: Coach Sue Murphy says she can “put the team on her back.”
Alex Wittinger, Delano, MH, sr.: The three-sport athlete is long, lean and agile.
Jessica Wolf, Waconia, OH, sr.: A powerful hitter with great volleyball IQ.
Elizabeth Mohr, Eden Prairie, Setter, sr.: Heady distributor who racked up more than 1,000 assists in 2013.
Five soon-to-be big names
Isabelle Aragon-Menzel, Minnetonka, Setter, soph.: Already among the state’s best setters.
Kate Berg, Wayzata, OH, soph.: Six-rotation player set for a breakout campaign.
Christina Boe, Osseo, OH, soph.: Solid in all aspects of the game and plays with an edge.
Jasmyn Martin, Hopkins, OH, soph.: At 6-3 with tremendous athleticism, she forces opponents to game-plan for her.
Emily Torve, Heritage, Setter, sr.: Savvy leader should no longer be overshadowed by the big names in Class 3A.
Dates to circle
Tuesday, Sept. 2: Chaska at Hopkins, 7 p.m.: The state’s best team vs. the state’s best player.
Thursday, Oct. 9: Delano at Waconia, 7 p.m.: Will likely decide the Wright County Conference title.
Thursday, Oct. 16: Eden Prairie at Eagan, 7 p.m.: Rematch of the 2013 Class 3A semifinals, won by eventual champ Eagan in four sets.
Saturday, Oct. 18: Chaska tournament. Many of the state’s top teams, including Eagan, Bethlehem Academy, Belle Plaine, Southwest Christian and Stewartville, will be competing. At Chaska, 9 a.m.