Excitement in the air as fall practice begins

Today it officially begins. For those teams and individuals with big aspirations, it actually began a long time ago.

Yes, Monday marks the first official practice of the fall sports season, but a number of our local student-athletes have been hard at work this summer, pushing themselves through the heat and grinding this summer with visions of wins and championships serving as their motivation.

Team camps, 7-on-7’s and summer league’s give way to today, when it all starts for real once again.

Some teams will be chasing championship, others improvement. But they all will be chasing something.

A lot will be written about them in the coming weeks and months, and here’s a brief refresher of just a few of them as we begin the season.

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Volleyball

Warren: A team that returns almost all of its key contributors from last season, a season in which they advanced to the District 10 title match against General McLane. They’ve had a great summer, finishing third in a loaded field at Penn State, winning the Jamestown Summer League and most recently the Gold Bracket of the Fort LeBoeuf team camp. They are in a stacked Region 6 this season with fellow 3A opponents General McLane, Villa (whom they beat in the D-10 semis last year), and Harbor Creek and 4A schools McDowell and Erie High. Region 3 features all the other 3A teams, including expected favorite Conneaut. It should be a fun season for the Lady Dragons.

Sheffield: The Lady Wolverines took another step forward last season, including a marquee win against Elk County Catholic. A trip to the postseason would be a great next step for the program.

Youngsville: The Lady Eagles won a set from Kennedy Catholic in their first round playoff match last year, and look to carry that momentum over to this season.

Eisenhower: The Lady Knights were young, with a lot of first-time varsity players last year and will aim to keep building under coach Scott Olson.

Soccer

Both the Warren and Eisenhower girls were District 10 semifinalists last season in their respective classes. No doubt, both are looking for even more this season. Two-time Region Player of the Year Mackenzie Bickling will help lead a Warren squad that makes its way into a new Region 6, which reads like a who’s who of annual contenders – Meadville, McDowell, Bradford, Hickory and Erie High among them. Eisenhower, meanwhile, will be joined in Region 3 by Seneca, Iroquois, Maplewood and Cambridge Springs.

The Warren boys pushed top-ranked Cathedral Prep to the limit in the D-10 playoffs last season. They lost a lot to graduation, but this program not only has plenty of talent returning, but a history of winning. They will be in Region 5 with Meadville, Franklin, Oil City, Bradford and newcomer Slippery Rock.

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Plenty more to come as we continue the trek toward the start of the season. Warren golf will get going this week (Thursday at Erie) with a Region 6 match, with everyone else not far behind.

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