Charleston Catholic has enjoyed more recent success than any team in the Kanawha Valley, with consecutive Class A state championships in 2009 and 2010.
Last season, Lindsay Kuncher took over the Irish program after serving as an assistant on the program's state championship teams the previous two seasons. Catholic ultimately came up short of a third-straight championship - the Irish lost to eventual runner-up Williams-town in the quarterfinals - with a young team.
"They were so nervous going in to that state tournament," Kuncher said. "They felt like they had so much to live up to and they really played well. For them to show that kind of mental toughness ... that third set [against Williamstown] was a growing experience for those younger players."
The Irish lost first-team all-state selection Mackenzie Polen, but senior Simone Assaley, junior Hannah Gallian and sophomore Catherine Bandak are all back.
"Simone has stepped up so far as a leader," Kuncher said. "[Catherine] played opposite Mackenzie last year as a middle hitter and learned so much."
Charleston Catholic opens its season Tuesday at home with a quad match against South Charleston, Ripley and Cross Lanes Christian.
The area's other state tournament qualifier from last season in Class A, Buffalo, opens today at home against Nitro, Poca and Sherman before playing in the Doddridge County Invitational on Saturday.
In Class AA, Herbert Hoover and Sissonville each return all-state players from teams that qualified for last year's state tournament.
Hoover junior Hannah King and Sissonville senior Bekah Baldwin each earned a spot on the second team last season, while Hoover's Damia Mogeilski was a special honorable mention pick.
The Huskies opened their season Wednesday with quad match against Capital, Winfield and St. Albans. Sissonville begins Sept. 6 at Poca.