By Brandon Stoneburg
We're only a few weeks away from the start of fall sports season. We've been previewing each football team for the past two months, but it's time to check in on the other sports. Here we'll preview girls volleyball in the Hanover-Adams area. Next up: Delone Catholic.
Delone Catholic Squirettes
Last year: 22-4, 12-0 in YAIAA Division III, reached District 3 and PIAA playoffs
Coach: Jason Leppo
Key players lost: Cheyenne Altland (MH), Kayla Baadte (libero), Maddie Comly (OH), Kelly O'Boyle (S/DS), Ashley Dressel (DS), Alicee Barroso (RS)
From Leppo: "Maddie and Cheyenne started the last three years for us. O'Boyle and Dressel were very important players for us off the bench, and Barroso, although she didn't play a ton, is another kid we'll really miss. She was a foreign exchange student from Brazil who everyone loved and brought such an awesome, new experience and dynamic that you don't get to experience every day."
Key players returning: Katie Laughman (Sr., S), Sarah Senft (Sr., RS/OH), Lilly Singleton (Sr., OH), Amber Johnson (Sr., MH) Karigen Emig (Jr., DS/OH)
From Leppo: "All five started for us last year and should have solid seasons again. Katie and Sarah are entering their third year as starters."
Team strength: Delone has dominated in recent years because no team in the league boasts as much depth or balance as the Squirettes. That won't change this season, despite the loss of six seniors. The Squirettes are still deep at every position across the board, giving them the best rotation in the division.
Any concerns?: Replacing six seniors and working new players into a rotation is a challenge for any coach. Leppo has the talent at his disposal, it's just a matter of finding the right combinations.
Blocking, defense and ball control are other areas that need work, Leppo added.
"I think we have the ability and kids capable of performing those skills at a high level," he said. "But we really need to clean some things up."
Keep an eye on: The junior class. Outside of Emig, who is expected to start, there are three other juniors who could make significant contributions - Kayla Ewart (DS), Claire Kaufmann (MH/RS) and Sydney Dockins (MH/OH).
"I think people are really going to notice them," Leppo said. "Depending on the day and what line up(s) we end up running though, there's a bunch of others that can contribute and potentially really shine if they can find their way onto the court."
Another name to keep an eye on is Lexi Shanabrook (Sr., DS), who is coming into her own in her senior campaign, Leppo added.
Storyline to follow: Reloading for a repeat.
Almost any other team would take a step back after losing six seniors and three all-league performers. They would rebuild for a year or two, then come back strong. Not Delone. The Squirettes don't rebuild, they reload, thanks to their deep, talented roster, and they're primed for a run at their fourth-straight league title.
Losing such a strong senior class, especially Comly, Altland and Baadte will be hard to overcome, but it gives players like Singleton, Johnson and Emig even more opportunity to step up. There's still more than enough talent for the Squirettes to repeat as league champs and maybe even advance further in the postseason after losses to Berks Catholic and Bethlehem Catholic last season.
Leppo likes his junior class as well, which isn't good news for Delone's competitors waiting for the Squirettes to slip up.