Two of the three undefeated Class A teams — Papillion-La Vista and Elkhorn South — probably don’t come as a surprise.
The third, Omaha Bryan, would be the exception.
The Bears are off to a 3-0 start, their best since 2009. And while it isn’t quite enough to get Bryan ranked, it definitely is good news for third-year coach Nate Novotny.
“It’s always good to start the season with some success,’’ he said. “We lost a couple of heavy hitters from last year, but the girls are committed to the process.’’
One of those three early victories came against Omaha Northwest, expected to be one of the better Omaha Public Schools squads this fall.
“We’ve come close to beating them before,’’ Novotny said. “It was nice to see our girls’ hard work get rewarded.’’
The coach said he entered the season with some optimism, returning six players who drew starts last season. Those six are seniors Olivia Rickley and Nyajuol Lew and juniors Kaitlyn Schwenn, Maddy Gates, Bri Zubia and Jordan Wattles.
Senior defensive specialist Mia Moore also returns, while freshman libero Jessica Conway already has made her presence felt.
“We’ve got a great group of girls,’’ Novotny said. “The team chemistry is phenomenal.’’
Any success is a positive for Bryan, which has suffered through some lean years. The team went winless in 2013 and 2014, losing 62 matches in a row.
The Bears won three matches in 2016 before Novotny took over. Bryan has won 13 over the past two seasons, leading up to its quick start this year.
“It’s encouraging because we have good players back and a handful of talented freshmen,’’ he said. “I think we have a group that I can depend on for every match.’’
Bryan will have a chance to show its stuff this weekend, hosting the annual Gradoville Invitational. It will be a step up in competition and give Novotny a better sense of where his team fits into the grand scheme.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve won any tournament,’’ he said. “To be successful, we need to make sure we play to our strengths.’’
Novotny added that volleyball isn’t the only sport that has enjoyed early success this fall at Bryan.
“The softball team and the (boys) tennis team have also had some wins,’’ he said. “It’s all a great thing for our school.’’
While a state tournament berth might still be a long shot — the Bears made their only appearance in 2008 for coach Joanne Kappas — Novotny isn’t afraid to dream big.
“We’re looking to take some big steps forward,’’ he said, “We just need to keep getting better.’’
Ratings update: Preseason No. 1 Papio has justified that rating, winning its first eight matches of the season.
The top-ranked Monarchs already have defeated defending Class A champion Millard North (twice) and four-time defending Class B champ Omaha Skutt. Another big match looms Thursday night when undefeated Elkhorn South pays a visit.
Rounding out the overall top five are Skutt, Elkhorn South, Lincoln Pius X and Gretna.
The only new No. 1 in the ratings comes in Class C-2, where Hastings St. Cecilia claims the top spot. The 3-0 Hawkettes earned that promotion with wins over Superior — led by Nebraska recruit Kalynn Meyer — and preseason No. 1 Grand Island Central Catholic.
Stepping down: Ogallala’s Steve Morgan, second on the state’s career win list with 984, isn’t the only notable coach who didn’t return to the sidelines this season.
That list also includes longtimers Pat Hoblyn of Ansley-Litchfield and Jody Rhodes of Paxton.
Hoblyn is 10th on the list with 742 wins. She led Ansley to five state championships and Ansley-Litchfield to a runner-up finish in 2014.
Rhodes, the head coach at Paxton for 27 years, is 26th on the win list with 487. The Tigers won five straight titles under his guidance, including three straight from 2002 to 2004.
Statistics needed: Coaches of teams in Class A, Class B and the Omaha area are asked to email updated statistics by Wednesday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coaches who update statistics on the MaxPreps website need not return a stat sheet.
Top matches this week:
Class A — Thursday: Elkhorn South at Papillion-La Vista. Friday-Saturday: Gradoville Invitational (at Omaha Bryan). Saturday: Millard North Invitational.
Class B — Tuesday: Omaha Duchesne at Millard South; Wahoo at Platteview. Saturday: Norris Invitational.
Class C-1 — Thursday: Norfolk Catholic at Wahoo; Syracuse at Lincoln Christian; Gering at Chadron. Saturday: North Bend Invitational; Boone Central Invitational.
Class C-2 — Thursday: Superior at BDS; Humphrey St. Francis at Mead; Grand Island Central Catholic at Sutton triangular; Oakland-Craig at Wisner-Pilger. Saturday: Wahoo Neumann Invitational; Howells-Dodge tournament.
Class D-1 — Tuesday: Humboldt-TRS at Nebraska City Lourdes; Axtell at Overton triangular; Falls City Sacred Heart at Diller-Odell. Thursday: Nebraska City Lourdes at Freeman.
Class D-2 — Tuesday: Wynot at Winside; Anselmo-Merna at Pleasanton triangular. Saturday: Friend Invitational.