With Ankeny Centennial beginning play this season, the Central Iowa Conference’s Eastern Division is finally set: Ankeny, Centennial, Southeast Polk and Waukee.
"For our division, I believe it will be a toss-up between all four teams," said head coach Ed Frederick, who begins his fourth season with the Warriors.
The Warriors will look to their back line for stability as the season starts, with both libero Morgan Potts and defensive specialist Danika Mikesh returning to their roles. Potts, a senior, was a second-team all-division selection last season after piling up a team-high 359 digs, averaging 4.1 per set. She also posted a 92.4 percent serving success rate and had 17 aces.
Mikesh, a junior this season, had 227 digs a year ago, an average of 2.6 per set. She also recorded 20 service aces and a 90.8 percent success rate.
"We will be strong defensively as we are returning our back court," Frederick said.
Lauren Vespa returns to her setter position, where she will be joined by Gabby Magee. Vespa was second on the team with 221 assists last year, while Magee averaged 4.8 assists in 22 sets.
The Warriors will have to replace their top five kill leaders from a year ago, including all-stater Maddie Nevenhoven, who had a team-high 254. They’ll look to returning letterwinners Emilee Anderson, Taylor Voorhees, Denise Ssozi and Erin Bramble to do so.
Ssozi and Voorhees are the leading returners. Ssozi had 33 in 33 sets, and Voorhees recorded 28 while appearing in 50 sets.
"We will be working on our weakness offensively by eliminating errors in attacking as well as serving," Frederick said.
Ankeny, which reached the state tournament last year, was loaded with talent, but it remains to be seen how the splitting off with Centennial will affect each program. Southeast Polk reached the regional final before losing to Dowling Catholic.
The Warriors, meanwhile, are eager to see where they stack up in a conference, and division, loaded with talent.
"The girls right now as a program have a very positive outlook on this season," Frederick said. "They’ve developed great team chemistry and had a great work ethic during the offseason."