by Tom Utescher
Although the volleyball team at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy suffered some key losses from the 2013 line-up, the team will be able to build around a small group of returning veterans this fall.
“We have some experience, but we have some big holes to fill from graduation,” underscored fifth–year head coach Heather Hoehn.
Among last year’s seniors were middle hitter Courtney Hamilton and outside hitter Jenna Moriarty, both veteran starters. Setter Kat Saltzman is gone as well, although she was hurt early last season and spent much of the year on the sideline.
Due to this injury, then-sophomore Marissa Pownall stepped in as starting setter and gained a lot of experience. The senior co-captains this fall are Moriarty’s sister Julia, projected as a middle hitter, and outside Brigit McDermott.
“Brigit has taken her game to a whole new level this year,” announced a pleased Hoehn. “She played club volleyball in the off-sesason, and she’s really improved defensively and with her passing.”
Another senior, Kyra Jackson, also plays club ball and will give the Blue Devils size and strength in the middle. Unfortunately another returning 12th-grader, Emily Chicchi, has already been crossed off the active player list for the season due to injury.
Coach Hoehn would like to see more of her players pursue the sport outside of the school season in the autumn.
“We struggle in that regard,” she observed. “Our opponents, both in and out of our league, have more and more players who participate on clubs, and it has an effect.”
In order for the Blue Devils to have decent depth this season, younger players will have to develop on-the-job. McDermott’s younger sister Catherine is a member of the team’s sophomore class, along with Ava Tokarek, a good athlete who was a starting outfielder in softball as a freshman last spring.
After some preseason scrimmage action, the Blue Devils played their first two non-league matches against a pair of Catholic Academies League teams.
SCH came away with a very close 2-3 loss to Sacred Heart, and a not-so-close 0-3 setback against Gwynedd Mercy Academy.
Against Sacred Heart, Hoehn related, “Our communication was great. We fought hard and it could’ve gone either way.
“I don’t know what happened to us at Gwynedd,” she went on. “We didn’t play up to our potential, and it definitely showed us some things we need to work on.”