Can Kellenberg end St. Anthony's hold in CHSAA boys volleyball?

St. Anthony's Matthew Safranek, left, and Matthew Waring, St. Anthony's Matthew Safranek, left, and Matthew Waring, right, attempt to block a shot by Kellenberg's Michael Fulop (10) in the CHSAA boy's volleyball championship. (May 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke/Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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The St. Anthony's dynasty in CHSAA boys volleyball could come to an end this season, and Kellenberg could be the team to bring the Friars down.

The Friars have won four consecutive league titles and have gone 62-5 overall in that span, but enter this season having graduated seven players from that championship core. Returning though is Matthew Waring, who will lead St. Anthony's in the middle standing at 6-3, and Michael Have, a threat as an outside hitter. Look for St. Anthony's to compete for a top three seed, but don't expect the Friars to be the outright favorite for the league title again this season.

Kellenberg could build a mini-dynasty of its own in the next two seasons, bringing youth, height and experience to the court this season. Kellenberg upset Chaminade to reach last year's championship match and returns most of its core. Junior Michael Fulop is a player of the year candidate at outside hitter, standing at 6-4, while juniors, libero Philip Beis and setter Ryan Branigan, have all-conference quality talent. Add to them 6-5 senior middle hitter Bobby Kovalsky, and 6-7 junior Phillip Baciculupo and Kellenberg could be a dominant team when it's all said and done.

"We have a nice core of kids at very important positions who are very talented," Kellenberg coach John Heitner said. "Last year we were lucky to make it to the finals, this year we're big time."

Chaminade is also a threat to win the CHSAA crown, but will have to get over the semifinal hump that has haunted the Flyers in recent years. Coach Sal Trentacoste said the team has lost in the semifinal round in each of the last four seasons, but hopes that middle hitter Mike Walsh and setter Joe Trancho will get Chaminade over the top. Libero Jake Serrano is the Flyers' third returning starter, and senior outside hitter Liam Murphy earned a spot in the starting lineup in his first varsity season.

St. John the Baptist could surprise teams and hopes to win its first title with two returning starters -- outside hitter John Siemer and setter Peter Patch. Also look out for sophomore middle hitter Conner Dromerhauser to make an impact in his first varsity season.

St. Francis Prep expects to be improved, returning starting middle hitter Chris Monclova, and senior Chris Frietag, who in his fourth varsity season will switch positions from middle to outside or right-side hitter.

Holy Trinity returns nine players including five starters, led by returning captains, outside hitter Brendan Meyer and middle hitter James Fulton. The Titans are confident they'll be able to compete this season, despite coming off a winless campaign in 2012.

Players to Watch

Philip Beis, Kellenberg, libero, Jr.

Conner Dromerhauser, St. John the Baptist, middle hitter, So.

Michael Fulop, Kellenberg, outside hitter, Jr.

Matthew Waring, St. Anthony's, middle hitter, Sr.

Mike Walsh, Chaminade, middle hitter, Sr.

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