By any measure, the Eastern Connecticut Conference enjoyed one of its best season's last fall.
East Lyme High School won its second successive CIAC Class L championship, becoming the league's first multiple state champion.
The Vikings had to scrape past Large Division rival Woodstock Academy in the Class L semifinals, winning a grueling five-game match. The two also gave the ECC as many state semifinalists as two perennial superpowers - the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference and the Southern Connecticut Conference.
Fitch and Lyman Memorial advanced to the state quarterfinals, too.
As good as last season was, East Lyme coach Jack Biggs expects greater things from the ECC this fall.
"I think it'll be better this year," Biggs said. "There's going to be more depth. (Medium Division champion) Ledyard is going to be better. Woodstock is going to be great. Fitch is going to be Fitch. NFA is going to be better."
The ECC has had three state champions in the previous four seasons. It began when NFA rallied from a two-game deficit to beat Large Division rival Fitch in the Class LL final, becoming the ECC's first state champion.
"Our league has been lucky enough to have a pretty good stretch," NFA coach Bill Howard said. "You go all the way back to 2008 with Fitch and us. Then you see what East Lyme has done, and where Woodstock is.
"I think the ECC has established itself as a very good volleyball conference for a number of years, and that looks like it's going to continue."
East Lyme won't be able to live off its success after graduating four starters. Senior outside hitters Kayla Fobian (a 2011 Day All-Area pick) and Emily Ennis are the Vikings most experienced players.
"We try to approach each season the same," Biggs said, "but we're really dealing with a brand new set of girls. But here's the thing - they've practiced hard with us (the varsity). They watched. They've never gotten on the floor, but they know what it takes to play at this level.
"Now is there chance to shine and leave a legacy. Hopefully they'll be able to do something special."
The Vikings are the defending two-time league and Class L champions, but on paper, Woodstock, which returns the bulk of its players, looks like the team to beat.
Fitch is a perennial league contender. It graduated three starters, but returns seniors Ashley Adams (outside hitter), Ebony Bell (outside hitter), Lexis Foster (middle hitter), Kristin Gaudet (outside hitter), and setter Nikki Schoolcraft.
NFA has to replace five starters and will build around veteran outside hitters Carli Hust and Alyssa Velles.
Ledyard was one of the ECC's nicest surprises last season as won a share of Medium Division title, its first volleyball title since 2001. Most of that team is back, including senior Kylie Fustini (middle hitter) and sophomore Michelle Klinikowski (middle hitter). Both were all-division first team picks.