The good news for Columbus North is that it’s coming off its best volleyball season in several years.
The bad news for the Bull Dogs comes in the loss of seven seniors, most of which were key players in last year’s 20-14 season. Four were three-year starters.
“We do have a lot of inexperience,” North coach Caitlin Greiner said. “We have a lot of new girls coming in that haven’t necessarily seen a lot of varsity time, but they’re working really hard.”
The Bull Dogs do return a few players with significant varsity experience, led by senior outside hitter Avery Wendel, who is entering her third year as a starter.
“She has the most varsity experience, so we do look to her for some leadership,” Greiner said. “But the team as a whole is very talented. In the past, we’ve had some stars that we look to, but this year we have a group of more well-rounded girls that make the team better as a whole.”
Senior defensive specialist Grace Sonderman and junior Mackenzie Rooks, who will likely be the libero, saw plenty of action in the back row last season. Junior Imani Guy also returns and is battling with junior Hannah Weaver and freshman Augustina Fainguersch for the middle-hitter spots.
Junior Maliah Howard-Bass, who played all over the court, will set from the back row in a 6-2 offense and hit from the right side. Junior Madelin Johnson, who is back after sitting out last season, or senior Hannah McKinney will be the other setter.
Senior Anne Marie Kiel, who saw a little varsity action, could play outside hitter. Also vying for playing time are senior Emily Pollitt on right side and freshman defensive specialist Maddy Sebahar.
“Every position, we have a lot of depth,” Greiner said. “I truly see a lot of changes in the lineup as the season develops depending on the match and who we’re playing. I’m really excited about the depth and the different options I have this year.
“They’re all looking pretty good,” she said. “We had such a strong senior class last year that a lot of those sophomores and juniors that are now juniors and seniors didn’t see a lot of varsity playing time. So in that sense, they’re inexperienced, but they’re still experienced in our program. I’m pretty excited about the season.”
This fall, North will look to make it back-to-back winning seasons.
“I think that’s a very realistic goal,” Greiner said. “I’m excited about seeing the younger girls step up and play at a higher level. Developing as a whole with the team, we’re so well rounded that the girls mesh really well together, and I think we can do some good things.”
The 2015 Columbus North volleyball schedule:
Aug. 20;at Shelbyville;7:30 p.m.
Aug. 22;at Eastern Greene Tournament;9 a.m.
Aug. 25;Perry Meridian;6 p.m.
Aug. 27;Heritage Christian;7:30 p.m.
Sept. 1;Bloomington North;7:30 p.m.
Sept. 5;at North Central Tournament;9 a.m.
Sept. 8;at Southport;7:30 p.m.
Sept. 10;at Center Grove;7 p.m.
Sept. 12;at Jennings County Invitational;9 a.m.
Sept. 15;at Franklin Central;7:30 p.m.
Sept. 17;Brownstown Central;7:30 p.m.
Sept. 19;at New Albany Tournament;9 a.m.
Sept. 24;at Martinsville;7 p.m.
Sept. 26;at Muncie Central Invitational;9 a.m.
Oct. 1;at Columbus East;7 p.m.
Oct. 6;Bloomington South;7:30 p.m.
Oct. 8;Franklin;7:30 p.m.
Oct. 10;Conference Indiana at Terre Haute South;10 a.m.
Oct. 13;at Seymour;7:30 p.m.