As he glances up and down the roster for his 2014 Pinkerton Academy girls’ varsity volleyball contingent, veteran coach Todd Royce sees a crew that sports six returning varsity starters and eight players without any prior varsity experience.
The Lady Astros went 11-7 last fall, and the returning starters from that squad are seniors Michaela Blackwell (a middle), Nicole Langlais (defensive specialist), and Elizabeth Hicks (setter), juniors Olivia Mathieu (outside-hitter) and Faolin Harrington (middle), and sophomore libero Lexi Verreault.
That sextet will no doubt sit right at the center of the Lady Astros’ efforts, with the octet of promising newcomers aiming to take on important roles in an effort to help the Lady Astros in what will certainly be a tough title hunt.
The newbies include juniors Alexis Bowers (outside hitter), Maggie Gildeau (defensive specialist), Cheyenne Wright (defensive specialist), and Carly McDonough (middle), sophomores Alivia Connors (middle), Sarah Hicks (setter), and Jocelyn Dennis (defensive specialist), and lone freshman Sarah Metzger (setter).
“The team has to communicate throughout their time on the court,” said Royce. “The other major keys to success are our serving consistency and serve-receive accuracy.”
The veteran coach doesn’t expect his charges to have many – if any – “easy matches” this fall with the relative competitive parity in Division I.
“All of Division I looks extremely strong this year,” he said. “There were quite a few schools last season with some good young talent. We should find out a little more after our first game against Nashua North (this Friday, Sept. 5), which is a strong volleyball program every year.”