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Shullsburg’s Layla Alt is among key returners in the Six Rivers Conference, which opted to start prep volleyball season this week instead of spring.

The Six Rivers Conference opened play this week, with all six area schools opting to remain in the fall, rather than taking the spring season option offered by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association because of COVID-19 concerns.

Here is a capsule look at the area teams in the Six Rivers Conference:

BELMONT

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Coach: Genevieve Sprung (2nd season)

Last season: 4-13 overall, 2-10 Six Rivers

Returning starters: Chloe Crapp (soph., outside hitter), Ashley Freeman (jr., middle hitter), Taytem Benson (jr., setter), Rilyn Mootz (soph., outside hitter).

Promising newcomers: Rylee Rodgers (soph., outside hitter), Tori Noldorf (soph., right side hitter), Lauren Helms (jr., back row).

Outlook: The Braves return a strong nucleus of attackers and passers as they look to climb the ladder this season in the Six Rivers.

BENTON

Coach: Amanda Homb (3rd season)

Last season: 9-12 overall, 6-8 Six Rivers

Returning starters: Taylor Mowry (sr., outside hitter), Claire Tiedeman (sr., outside hitter), Kylie Monson (sr., right side hitter) Zoe Stluka (soph., middle hitter).

Promising newcomers: Jocelyn Cummings (soph., middle hitter), Hanna Reints (jr., defensive specialist), Kailey Fawcett (soph., setter) Genna Langkamp (fr., defensive specialist)

Outlook: Benton returns three senior starters in Mowry, Tiedeman and Monson who will look to guide an otherwise young and inexperienced squad to make a splash in the conference.

CASSVILLE

Coach: Andrea Okey (1st season)

Last season: 4-10 overall, 3-8 Six Rivers

2020 Roster: Laura Walker (sr.), Chloe Timm (sr.), Jade McDonald (sr.), Samantha Bartles (sr.), Anna Kartman (sr.), Allison Ihm (jr.), Makenzie Wiest (jr.), Alexis Radloff (jr.), Abigail Tasker (soph.), Kenzi Mergen (fr.), Hannah Infield (fr.), Irelyn Brinkman (fr.).

Outlook: Cassville has experience and leadership on its side as the Comets return five seniors and look to move up towards the middle of the pack in the Six Rivers under first year coach Andrea Okey.

POTOSI

Coach: Jolene Murray (11th season)

Last season: 10-15 overall, 5-7 Six Rivers

Returning starters: Lilly Post (sr., middle hitter), Shae Siegert (sr., setter), Brooklyn Friederick (sr., setter), Sydeny Fecht (sr., outside hitter/utility), Ann Kruser (sr., defensive specialist), Kylie Reuter (jr., middle hitter), Mykaylia Bauer (jr., libero), Jessica Noonan (jr., outside hitter).

Other returning letterwinners: Martia Abing (sr., right-side hitter).

Promising newcomers: Aspen Walsh (jr., right-side hitter), Gracie Breitsprecker (jr., right-side hitter).

Outlook: Coach Murray returns a solid core from a team that was very competitive last season, as she feels this could be one of the tightest conference races of her tenure. The Chieftains will rely on their six senior leaders to get them to the top half of the conference.

RIVER RIDGE

Coach: Dianne Langmeier (15th season)

Last season: 24-1 overall, 12-0 Six Rivers

Returning starters: Kendall Esser (sr., outside/middle hitter), Sadie Crubel (jr., defensive specialist/outside hitter).

Other returning letterwinners: Abby Polodna (sr., libero), Britney Moravits (sr., middle/outside hitter), Olivia Blum (sr., defensive specialist/outside hitter), Sidney Drone (sr., setter/outside hitter), Payton Millin (soph., middle/outside hitter), Allison Wagner (soph., setter).

Promising newcomers: Paige Bailey (jr. middle hitter/defensive specialist), Sammy Steiger (jr., setter), Rachael Zinkle (jr., outside hitter/defensive specialist), Kennedy Copsey (jr., defensive specialist/outside/middle hitter), Cayton Clark (jr., setter), Olivia Polodna (soph., defensive specialist).

Outlook: The Timberwolves graduated some key players from last year’s team that went undefeated in the conference and won the D3 Regional. Coach Langmeier also expects this to be a much more closely contested conference race this season, but is eager to see how her new group of seniors will rise to challenge.

SHULLSBURG

Coach: Hannah Pick

Last season: 20-7 overall, 7-5 Six Rivers

2020 Roster: Layla Alt (sr., defensive specialist/middle hitter), Peyton Doyle (sr., defensive specialist/outside hitter), Kayla Klotz (sr., defensive specialist/middle hitter), Kiera Sandlin (sr., defensive specialist/outside hitter), Anna Wiegel (sr., defensive specialist/outside hitter) Brooklyn Strang (sr., setter), Kennedy Allendorf (jr., opposite hitter), McKenna Mullen (jr., defensive specialist), Joelle Sigwarth (jr., defensive specialist).

Outlook: Despite graduating four-year starter Cali Jerry and Reva Spillane, who amassed nearly 1000 career assists, Shullsburg returns several players with multiple years of varsity experience. They will look to lean on these players to once again compete near the top of the conference.