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Can the senior-heavy Mustangs make a run at the division title?

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: South Western.

South Western Mustangs

Last year: 7-10 overall, 5-7 Division I

Coach: Cathy Harman (12th season)

Key players lost: None.

Key players returning:  Hannah McMaster (Sr., setter), Summer Small (Sr, MH), Tori Sager (Sr., OH), Kaitlyn Chell (Jr., OH), Bonna Sheehan (Jr., OH)

Team strength: Continuity, experience.

No seniors graduated from last year's squad and the Mustangs bring back a ton of experience. McMaster will be in her fourth varsity season and led the team in aces and assists in 2014. Fellow seniors Small, who led the team in blocks, and Sager, who led in kills, return for their third varsity campaigns.

Any concerns?: Position changes. 

While Harman's team returns experience, some of her starters will be in new positions. Chell will be moving from libero to outside hitter, Sheehan from outside hitter to opposite and Abi Gatz from defense to libero.

"Most of our position changes made during the offseason have shown improvement to this point in our team dynamic and chemistry," Harman said. "And our team will need to stay healthy and strong while focusing on the long haul."

Keep an eye on: The freshman.

Hannah McMaster's sister, Madisyn, was the lone freshman to make the varsity squad. She's there for a reason and she'll be expected to add depth to the lineup, Harman said.

Storyline to follow: Can the senior-heavy lineup give the Mustangs a legit shot at a division title?

The Mustangs won a share of the division title in 2008, but other than that they've watched as Central York, Spring Grove, Dallastown, Red Lion and Susquehannock have claimed every title since 1994.

But it'd be hard to find another team around the league that brings back as much as the Mustangs do with six seniors and five juniors. If three position changes pan out for South Western and they can carry over some late-season momentum (they went 7-5 down the stretch after starting 0-5) they could compete with Red Lion and Central. The Mustangs time to make a run at the title is now.