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Originally published Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 5:49 PM

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Five things to watch this high-school volleyball season

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1 Can Mercer Island make another magical 3A run?

The Islanders flirted with perfection last season, taking an unbeaten record into the state tournament. But the (bad) luck of the draw pit them against Prairie in the opening round and they wound up losing in five sets to the eventual champion. They ultimately settled for seventh place with a 24-1 overall record. Several key players return as MI eyes a more fitting end this year.

2 Who will weather the maniacal Metro League?

Don’t expect to see anyone survive the Metro League unbeaten. Coaches say the Mountain Division especially is as competitive as ever. Last season, it was like musical chairs at the top. And then the team that finished on top — Bainbridge — failed to make it out of the district tournament, and a team that barely qualified — Holy Names — went on to take fourth at state.

3 WesCo takes a new stand(ings)

WesCo 4A and 3A coaches want to make sure the best teams have the best chance of qualifying for postseason play. So they voted to scrap the traditional North and South divisions in favor of one set of standings in each classification. The 4A teams all play each other once, and same for the 3As.

4 ER, AR, KW — who wins the alphabet race in SPSL 4A?

Emerald Ridge, ranked No. 29 nationally by, is favored to reign in the SPSL 4A South Division, while Auburn Riverside and Kentwood are expected to duke it out in the North. All three have the potential to bring home state trophies.

5 Loaded for Bear again in Class 2B?

Bear Creek has been a 2B powerhouse recently, sweeping four straight state trophies. The Grizzlies took eighth in 2009, fourth in 2010, fifth in 2011 and third in 2012. They lost a pair of key seniors who were a key part of that run, but could well be in the mix again.

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