The Sacred Heart volleyball team comes into the 2014 season following a 2013 which included a Kaysinger Conference tournament championship and a district championship.
“We have developed a lot of our skills over the summer and I think that’s going to really help us as we come along this season,” said senior Becky Full.
Full is one of five seniors on the roster, part of a group that has been together for years, playing in camps since third grade and as a team since sixth grade.
“Our relationships with each other really put us close together,” said libero Bea Coruna. “Knowing each other for so long, we play really well together. It’s just how strong of a relationship we all have as a team.”
One of those seniors, Mary Fischer, is back after missing most of 2013 with an injury. She tore an ACL in the spring of her sophomore year and re-injured it during volleyball season last year, tearing her ACL and meniscus. She had surgery in January and feels she’s at 90 percent, though she would like to get some of her speed back.
“I just need to get that last push,” she said. “Other than that, I’m back to where I was.”
She was not able to take part in any of the team’s summer camps or leagues, so now she has to work to get some of the rust off.
“I hurt it again in September and I’ve barely been able to play since then, other than hitting a ball against the wall,” she said.
Now that senior class takes on a leadership role, helping the younger players improve their game.
“We just want to show them how to play the Sacred Heart way,” said Erin O’Connor.
Of those younger players, a pair of sophomores, Hanna Wilhoit and Anna Callis, played major roles in the Gremlins’ district final win over Stover last year. Both enter 2014 showing improvement.
“They were a lot of arm last year, in the district final they were good blockers and a lot of arm swing,” said coach David Fall. “Now they’re moving their feet, they’re passing the ball. They’re becoming a more rounded player.”
Alex Simon is another sophomore who has shown improvement. Analise Mergen is expected to be in the mix for playing time as a freshman.
“We’ve always depended on young kids and I think we’ve got a group that will help us out this year,” Fall said.
Wilhoit and Callis will be mainstays on the front line alongside Full.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons up there,” Fall said. “One of my concerns is we want to be able to control, not just on the back row getting it up to the setter, sometimes we have trouble trying to reign in our power. We need to hit with control as well as power.”
On the back line, senior Julie Chancellor is seeing a lot of hustle.
“A lot of girls are making it easy for the setter to get to the ball,” she said.
Honor Kehde’s graduation leaves somebody with big shoes to fill and at the moment that role is being handled by committee.
“She ran a 5-1,” Fall said. “She was the lone setter for the last two years. We’re looking. We’ve opened up the competition and we’ve been looking since June. I think we’ve got a lot of great candidates.”
Whoever ends up in that role will have to get up to speed on things like timing and communication and a lot more.
“Those are things that Honor brought,” Fall said. “Honor played great defense. She was capable of jumping up and stuff-blocking a 5-10 girl and going to the floor and getting a ball 15 feet from the net. There’s a lot involved. Game management is the biggest. I think we’re going to find people that can set and play defense, but it’s going to take us a while to get game management down.”