It appears that the balance of power in CHSAA girls volleyball is ready to shift.
St. Anthony’s and Kellenberg typically have dominated the Catholic League, but Holy Trinity (1-1) and St. John the Baptist (3-0) have high aspirations this season, and rightfully so. Both programs have been cultivating young talent the past few years.
“I think we were young in the past,” Holy Trinity coach Karen Hogan said. “We’ve kind of been grooming them. I think this year we have a real core of seniors. My libero, Amanda Colon, is a senior captain; my right side, Maggie Lavelle, is a senior captain; Hunter Christian is a senior captain. You can hear the difference on the court, just the level of noise, enthusiasm and guidance.”
Christian said she has a sprained right ankle that has her sidelined without a clear return date, but Holy Trinity, which hasn’t captured a CHSAA title since 2005 and finished fifth in the league last season, still was still able to beat St. Anthony’s, 3-2, in her absence on Sept. 8.
“It was really hard to watch,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to beat them after all these years. But to see my team go out there and beat them without me, I couldn’t be happier for them.”
Scrappy defense and a deep bench have the Titans poised to make noise.
SJB, which last won a championship in 1975, also earned a straight-sets win over the Friars on Sept. 13. Its roster is composed of similarly talented players, including Emily Meyer, Bridgette Moran, Elizabeth DellaRocca and Casey Gannon.
“We’re going to be tough this year,” coach Linda Morrisey said.
The Cougars already have proven to be. After finishing third in the league last season, SJB has gotten off to a fast start, sweeping St. Anthony’s, St. Mary’s and St. Dominic and looking like a top contender for the league title.
“I think we have something to show this year, I really do,” Meyer said. “Everything’s working for us right now.”
The Friars and Firebirds are talented teams, but not nearly as strong as in recent years, leaving the door wide open for another team to earn the top spot.
Kellenberg is 3-0 behind stars Kiersten Cote and Megan Pfundstein, but they’re the only two starters who return from last year’s title team.
St. Anthony’s (0-2) is always a contending program, but is off off to a slow start. Hannah Vetter and Taylor Morrell are difference-makers who easily could get the Friars to reverse course.
The Catholic League is perhaps more unpredictable this season than it has been in years past. There’s a real chance a team that hasn’t hoisted the title in a long time will find its way to the top.
“I think we have it,” Christian said of Holy Trinity’s chances. “I think we’re the strongest we have been in a while. I want to bring a championship to the school.”
This very well could be the year.