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St. Bede senior Sam Whalen )No. 2) will play libero after playing all the way around last season. Whalen and the Lady Bruins are aiming for the program’s first regional championship since 2001. NewsTribune file photo
When the St. Bede volleyball team looks at the program’s banner hanging inside Abbot Vincent Gymnasium, the Lady Bruins notice something that’s lacking.
“That board is nearly empty,” SBA senior Sam Whalen said. “It has just one year on it when Melissa Bosnich’s team won a regional in 2001.”
With just one regional title in program history, this year’s Lady Bruins want to take history head on and are motivated to add to the banner.
“I know we haven’t won a regional in awhile — if you look at our banner we’ve only won one — so we definitely want to make this year different,” SBA senior Christine Perona said. “We want to stop this routine, and we know for a change that you have to make a change — and I’ve definitely seen a change in practices. Everyone is dedicated and has the same motivation. We all want it and we’re all striving for it.”
St. Bede has a strong foundation on its quest to make history as the team returns seven letter winners from last year’s 16-20 squad and already knows that it will play host to a Class 2A regional in the fall.
“We want to see ‘2014’ up there,” Whalen said. “After we graduate in 2015, we want to come back as alumni and say that was our team.”
MAKING A CHANGE With history in the back of their minds, the Lady Bruins know they still have 10 weeks until the postseason begins Oct. 27.
Until then, third-year SBA coach Dawn Williams intends to explore her options. With a versatile team, Williams plans to mix and match her lineups over the first few weeks of the season to determine what works best for her veteran squad.
“We’re going to try some different combinations and different things,” she said. “You don’t know if it’s going to work until you test it. We have 10 weeks until regionals and we’re going to take a real analytical approach this year as far as ‘What are we doing? What’s working? What can we adjust?’ We want to be able to put up certain fronts against certain teams and be able to shift gears against others teams.”
AT THE NET While Williams plans to mix, match and adjust, she does have an idea of who will line up where.
Up front, returning senior Claire Dudek will play as an outside hitter as will junior Zoe Postula.
In the middle, junior Hanna Bima is back as is senior Michelle Reese, who has moved from a right-side hitter to a middle hitter.
Perona — who will likely play all the way around — and junior Caitlin Smith will be right-side hitters.
“This team is very versatile in their front-row play so we’ve introduced some new ideas and some new dimensions,” Williams said.
BACK ROW Whalen, a third-year varsity player who played all the way around last season, will transition to libero, while junior Julia Pohar and returning senior Emma Perona will see action as defensive specialists.
“(Graduated libero) Morgan King did an awesome job last year, but this year I’m excited to play the back row,” Whalen said. “It’s my favorite place to be.”
ASSISTING THE CAUSE With the Lady Bruins graduating setter Morgan Bosnich — who is now a freshman setter at IVCC — junior Sadie Long will run St. Bede’s 5-1 offense, but Emma Perona also will set if Williams goes with a 6-2.
“If we’re running a 6-2, Emma is going to be our secondary setter, but if we’re running a 5-1 she’s going to be a DS,” Williams said. “On one given night, maybe a 5-1 is going to match up better for us, but on another night we may need a 6-2. Emma is probably my most spirited player and she is always willing to do whatever helps the team.”
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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