Most coaches see the senior-loaded, talented Richfield squad as the state's top 2A team.
But the same squad owned that same favored status — and No. 1 ranking — when they were upset by North Summit.
"After being humbled last year, we'll take it one game at a time," said Richfield head coach Marc Peterson. "We've just gone on. We haven't talked about it a whole lot. We just want to get better each game, and we're well on our way to having a successful season."
Peterson said he's always known anything can happen in the playoffs, but the team's loss reiterated it.
"I learned anything can happen on any given night," he said. "I've seen some crazy things happen. Sometimes they happen to us, sometimes to another team. You've just got to be ready for anything."
The Wildcats will essentially get a second chance, as most of last year's team returns this season as seniors. Most of them were involved in the school's volleyball state title run, and they are an athletic group that would give a lot of 4A and 5A schools a significant battle.
Future Weber State volleyball player Megan Bean is one of the state's best players in any classification. The senior, who was volleyball's 2A MVP, averages 15 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. She has plenty of help from talented teammates like Sloane Roundy, who averages 9.75 points and nearly five assists per game, and Sammi Beck, who averages 7 points and three rebounds per game.
Peterson said he expects some tough games in region, but acknowledged Region 13 is again one of the state's deepest. That includes the defending 2A champion Beaver Beavers.
The Beavers are ranked No. 2 behind Richfield right now, and their coach acknowledges the return of a number of great players and tough teams in the 2A ranks.
"2A girls should have a lot of good teams," said Beaver head coach Jon Marshall. "Everyone was young last year and has most of their teams back."
He acknowledges that the Wildcats are the favorite, but, like Peterson, has been on both sides of an upset.
"Richfield is definitely the team to beat," he said. "But there are a lot of teams that are capable of coming and winning it all."
He calls his team a "smart, veteran bunch" and is looking forward to seeing how the Beavers defend the 2A title.
"It should be a fun, exciting season," he said.
The Beavers are led by post players Hatti Snyder, McCail Wood and guards Brielle Christensen and Rachel Roberts. Snyder, a senior, leads the team with 12.3 points per game, while Wood, a junior, averages 11.6 points per game.
Region 13's Parowan and Enterprise could contend with Beaver for the region title with Riley Lyman (11 points per game) leading Enterprise and Chennin Benson leading Parowan (17 points per game).
Some preseason crossover games have already proved the difficulty of predicting how teams will finish this season. For instance, South Sevier defeated Parowan and North Summit defeated Manti, and both Gunnison and Manti defeated Waterford.
North Summit should be the team to beat in Region 14 with Kasidee Evans leading the offense, averaging 13.7 points per game. Waterford and Rowland Hall are tied for the best preseason record at 7-2 each.
In Region 16, North Sevier and Manti should compete for top honors. Manti is currently ranked fourth and is led by Mandee Christensen, who averages nearly 12 points per game.
Emery is ranked fifth but has a tough road ahead with San Juan, Grand, South Sevier and Richfield in region play. Ashlynn Allred leads the Spartans with nearly 12 points per game.
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