Recognize: Bay Area

Updated: October 1, 2008, 9:31 PM ET
ESPNRISE.com

ESPN RISE takes a look at the teams to watch this month in the Bay Area:

Girls' Golf -- Monte Vista
Monte Vista graduated its top golfer from last year, but the Mustangs were undeterred coming into the 2008 season. Despite having to fill a hole at No. 1, coach Alexander Allen is confident that the team is talented enough to approach or even surpass last year's third-place finish at the NorCal championship. Instead of replacing their best player with one girl, the Mustangs are relying on team-wide improvement to make up the difference. "We've got a really good core," Allen says. "Our top players are good and improving, and by the end of the season we should see where that takes us." The most talented of the bunch is senior Jordan Ontiveros, an athletic long-ball hitter who is slotted into the No. 1 spot. Ontiveros fired a 77 at the NorCal tournament last year to finish 10th, and she followed that up with an 81 at the state meet to come in 22nd. Allen says Ontiveros' goal is to shoot in the mid- 70s in both events this time around. "She's physically our best player. She's got the strength to blast the ball, and she can handle those tough courses at the end of the season." Seniors Becky Miller and Sara Banke are also integral to the team scores, and if they can operate down in the low-80s, it will take pressure off some of Monte Vista's less-experienced players. Sophomore Stephanie Hsieh and junior Erin Bowser usually round out the top five.

Football -- Bellarmine Prep
The Bells are one of the most talented teams in the country, opening the season ranked No. 35 in the ESPN RISE FAB 50. The offense has a multitude of weapons, placing three players on the ESPN RISE All-Area team (senior quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, senior running back Usua Amanam and senior tackle Kevin Danser). The defense is led by senior Michael Clay, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound linebacker who made 110 tackles and earned WCAL Linebacker of the Year honors as a junior in 2007.

Girls' Volleyball -- Harker
After losing in the Division IV title game last year, the Eagles are looking to clear that hurdle in 2008. Kristina Bither, a 5-foot-9 senior outside hitter, was second on team with 324 kills last year, and she's stepping up as the top finisher this season. Senior outside hitter Candace Silva-Martin is versatile, having racked up 177 kills and 432 digs last year. Senior setter Christy Emery orchestrates the offense after leading the squad with 912 assists in 2007.

Boys' Water Polo -- San Ramon Valley
The Wolves went 19-5 last year and reached the semifinals of the NorCal tournament, losing to eventual champion Miramonte, and the talent is there for another deep postseason run. San Ramon Valley may have lost senior Porter Kalbus to graduation, but senior Patrick Weiss was solid last season and made the All-East Bay North team, and he will serve as a top scoring threat in 2008. Senior goalie Justin Gribble provides the last line of defense.

Breakout teams

GIRLS' CROSS COUNTRY -- ST. IGNATIUS
Senior Katy Daly and sophomore Rachel Hinds could both finish in the top 20 at states.

FOOTBALL -- BISHOP O'DOWD
Powered by junior Chris Martin and seniors Kevin Cooper and William Hodgman, the defense is fierce.

GIRLS'VOLLEYBALL -- ARAGON
Junior Kristyn Ikeda could become one of the area's best setters.

BOYS' CROSS COUNTRY -- SAN FRANCISCO UNIVERSITY
Weishen Mead and brothers Robert and David Kealhofer make up a good senior nucleus.