Albertville, Guntersville and Geraldine all landed in the AL.com preseason high school volleyball rankings.
AHSAA volleyball teams started preseason practice Aug. 5. The opening weekend of the 2019 season is Aug. 22-24. Area tournaments are Oct. 21-22.
In Class 3A, head coach Renee Bearden’s Geraldine squad is ranked No. 2 behind defending state champion Montgomery Academy.
Bearden’s first Bulldog team reached the Class 3A semifinals last season, the program’s first appearance in the Final Four since 2009.
The remainder of the 3A top 10 is No. 3 St. Luke’s, No. 4 Plainview, No. 5 Lexington, No. 6 Lauderdale County, No. 7 Houston Academy, No. 8 New Hope, No. 9 Pleasant Valley and No. 10 Carbon Hill.
“I am thrilled about our preseason ranking through AL.com,” Bearden said. “It’s most definitely a target on our backs, but also great motivation for our girls this early in the season.
“I have the most competitive group of young ladies this season and cannot wait to see them on the floor.”
North All-Star and Wallace State commitment Haven Hall is a top returning player for Geraldine.
Guntersville begins the season ranked second in the 5A poll behind defending champion Jasper.
AHSAA North All-Star Lauren Mark leads veteran head coach Jimmy Latta’s squad, which competes in Area 15, arguably the toughest in 5A.
Area 15 rivals Brewer at No. 3 and Arab at No. 10 join the Wildcats in the top 10. Other top-10 clubs are No. 4 Lawrence County, No. 5 Madison Academy, No. 6 Faith Academy, No. 7 Brewbaker Tech, No. 8 Mortimer Jordan and No. 9 St. James.
Albertville enters the year under new head coach Lydia O’Donnell ranked seventh in Class 6A. Defending state champion Spanish Fort is first, Hazel Green second, St. Paul’s third, Chelsea fourth, Pelham fifth, Hartselle sixth, Buckhorn eighth, Muscle Shoals ninth and Saraland 10th.
North All-Star Grace Kelley leads a nine-member senior class for the Aggies, who have won four straight area tournament championships and made consecutive trips to the 6A Elite Eight.
“I feel like our preseason ranking is definitely a testament to the strength of this program and what was accomplished last season,” O’Donnell said. “Of our 15 players, 11 of them have varsity experience from last year, so the No. 7 ranking also sets the expectations high for those girls this season.
“So far, I have been extremely proud of how hard the girls are working every day in practice.
“If they continue to work like they have, I think we can go above and beyond those expectations and continue the tradition of success that we have seen in the past several seasons.”