Manatee coach Rachel Batey is no stranger to local volleyball.
Batey, formerly known as Rachel Taylor, graduated from Palmetto and then-Manatee Community College and coached the Tigers varsity from 2007-09.
Batey moved on to Manatee, where she served as an assistant before taking over for Ken Deterding this season.
Also in volleyball, Saint Stephen's takes its 3-0 record into today's 7 p.m. Class 3A-District 10 opener against Cardinal Mooney. The Cougars beat the Falcons in the finals of last year's district tournament and won the regular-season match in Bradenton.
Lakewood Ranch's boys golf team started its 2012 season where it left off 2011. The Mustangs went 103-0 last fall en route to claiming the Class 2A team title. But this year's club lost three seniors off that team: Hunter Sagar, Connor Baldwin and Kyle Benson. Ranch began its slate last Saturday by taking down Port Orange Spruce Creek at Prestwick Country Club in Daytona Beach and winning a quad match Wednesday against Bradenton Christian, Sarasota Christian and Braden River at Rosedale.
The Mustangs' Spence Schultz (75) and Ramsey Touchberry (77) led the victory over Spruce Creek, who finished runner-up to Ranch last fall in the state tournament. The Mustangs finished with a 308 total, while Spruce Creek (0-2) had a 318 total.
Despite losing superstar Olivia Ortiz to an injury, the Lakewood Ranch girls are still one of the best cross country teams in Class 3A and certainly the best in Manatee County.
The Mustangs place five girls among the top 100 runners returning this year in 3A based on their best times in 2011.
The leader is senior Kristin Zarrella, who has the 15th-best time among the state's returnees in 3A with a mark of 18 minutes, 56.9 seconds.
Second for the Mustangs is Natalie Novak (38th with a time of 19:37.7). She is followed by Katie Wray (71st-20:15.7), Ashley Platt (82nd-20:27.2) and Michelle Last (93d-20:39.9).
Cardinal Mooney's Grace Casagrande has the 35th-best time among the returnees in 1A (21:06.6). And a person to keep your eye on is Out-Of-Door-Academy's Carling Landeche, who turned in the 87th-best time despite being only a seventh-grader last year. Her teammate, Caitlyn Durfee had the 99th-best time (22:22.8).
Bayshore's Canaan Meester-Kitterman has the 33d-best time among the 3A returnees (16:19.4). Others in the top 100 from Class 1A are ODA's Peter Runge (23rd, 16:58.6) and Spencer Nora of Saint Stephen's (60th, 17:40.1).
Everyone knows about returning state champions Danielle Valley and Will Kazokas, but the Lakewood Ranch swim team is counting on incoming freshmen to provide depth for another run to the state meet.
Madison Jean will lead a talented class by competing in the 100-yard butterfly and 200 individual medley and stepping into the 200 medley relay. Monroe Hulbert and Daniel Erlenmeyer will contribute right away as well.
"This year's team will rely more than ever on the participation and contribution of our incoming freshmen, especially the girls," Lakewood Ranch head coach Peter Hegwein said.
The Mustangs participated in their first big meet, the Venice Relays, on Wednesday.