With last year's three top hitters now all playing at the collegiate level, Chambersburg's girls volleyball team is going to see some changes on the front lines.
But luckily for the Trojans, they have one heckuva setter to help make the transition seamless.
For the third year in a row, Lauren Ching will be the team's starting setter, and she's still just a junior.
"Lauren is Lauren," Trojan coach Ty Frelin said. "She makes her hitters better. Like I said when she was a freshman, she's going to be phenomenal, and she just keeps growing. She's a very soft-spoken kid, but this year, I've even seen her get a little more vocal."
That'll certainly help, as she'll be flanked by outside hitters Bailee Nitterhouse and Erin Lightfoot, with Haylee Holsopple serving as the top middle.
"To play with Lauren, I feel like I'm lucky to have a setter like her," Holsopple said. "She's on point all the time. If we have a bad pass, she's always there to clean it up."
Ching will need to be on her game every night in the rigorous Mid Penn Commonwealth, especially with the short stature of the Lady Trojans. Nitterhouse stands at a mere 5-foot-7, while sophomore outside hitter Ally Davis is just 5-6.
"They're not real tall, but they jump," Frelin said.
Once again, Chambersburg will boast a tough defense with a deep bench. Danessa Martin, Jenna Lombardozzi and Laken Myers are expected to start on the back line, but juniors Anne Romine, Kyliene Wadel and Lexi Anderson will all see significant time as defensive specialists.
"The junior class really does have the skills; it's just that we've never really had a need because we've always been strong defensively," Lombardozzi said. "They're great players, and definitely not far behind; they're right up there with us. Everyone is going to have to fight for their spots on defense because everyone is really close skill-wise."
Frelin said, "Jenna, Danessa and Laken will be our mainstays on defense, but those three juniors are in a situation where three seniors are ahead of them. Any other year, they'd be starting, but they understand their role."
One of Chambersburg's biggest strengths defensively is simply its desire. The Trojans boast scrappiness and a willingness to go after every ball. There's also one other thing that makes defense the Trojans' best asset.
"We have a lot of communication in the backrow, maybe more so than anywhere else on the court," Lombardozzi said. "We can see things from farther back and know what's happening. We're always helping out the hitters and blockers by seeing things and calling them out."
Frelin said that while the Trojans will rely heavily on their defense, there's always another aspect teams will need to watch out for.
"We've spent a good bit of time on serving in the preseason, and honestly, they're all pretty solid," he said.
Now, the only question is if the offense can come together under Ching's direction.
Trojans at a glance
Coach: Ty Frelin, 29th season
Last year: 14-6 (11-5 Mid Penn Commonwealth Division); lost in the first round of the District 3 3A playoffs, 3-2, to Central York.
Returning starters: Jenna Lombardozzi (sr., DS), Lauren Ching (jr., S), Danessa Martin (sr., DS/L), Laken Myers (sr., DS), Haylee Holsopple (jr., MH), Bailee Nitterhouse (jr., OH), Erin Lightfoot (sr., OH)
Other top players: Ashley Adams (so., MH), Ally Davis (so., OH), Megan Bard (sr., S/OH), Anne Romine (jr., DS), Kyliene Wadel (jr., DS), Lexi Anderson (jr., DS), Breanne Byers (jr., utility), Mara Wilson (jr., MH/OH), Taylor Myers (fr., S)
Season opener: Tuesday, Sept. 6, at Red Land, 7