comes to a senior presence on this season's Plymouth volleyball
team's roster, it's all about quality, not quantity.
The Wildcats return just three seniors from last year's team that finished 18-16-4 overall and 5-5 in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association's Kensington Division.
But all three of those seniors -- Erin O'Connor, Kelly Smoltz and Katie Salo -- bring a lot to the table, both in terms of talent and leadership ability.
Combined, the trio have six years of varsity experience. Salo is a four-year varsity setter whose calm under pressure will help the relatively young Wildcats persevere when the going gets tough.
"Katie brings game sense and leadership to the team," said Plymouth coach Kelly McCausland. "Erin will probably be our right-side hitter or defensive specialist, and she's our back-up setter, too, so she's very valuable. And Kelly has been on the varsity since her sophomore year. She'll be our vocal leader in terms of offense."
RETURNING STARTERS PLENTIFUL
Don't be fooled by the Wildcats' lack of seniors or the fact that McCausland is carrying just 11 players (in the past, she's carried 12 to 14 players on varsity). The group she has is filled with talent and starting experience at the varsity level.
"I like the fact that we're already starting out as a cohesive unit," said McCausland, when asked about this year's team's strengths. "We only have three seniors out of 11 players, but six are returning starters.
"Defense is our strength right now. We're trying to work as many defensive possibilities as we can into it. Offensively, two of our outside hitters -- Dani Risi and Kayla Bridge --are returning and they're only juniors, so we're looking for them to be the offensive threats.
The return of middle-hitter Alex Roberts and defensive specialist Laura Schmid makes the Wildcats' junior class especially strong. First-year juniors include Mariah Tesarz and Andrea Haidar, both top-notch defensive specialists.
"I'm trying to work Andrea in as a libero," said McCausland. "If not, she'll be one of our stronger defensive specialists."
SOPHOMORE DUO PROMISING
Sophomores Jessica Scott and Lindsay Stemberger both played on the program's junior-varsity team as freshmen last year.
"They both played all-around last year," said McCausland, "so they'll be worked into the line-up. Jessica may even start."
Plymouth opens its 2009 campaign Sept. 9 at Wayne Memorial.
Ed Wright can be contacted at
email@example.com or (734) 578-2767.