Fielding a full team with a decent depth chart is tough for a private school, and that’s especially true for the St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy girls' volleyball team in 2019.
Head coach Cori Donaghy is looking at a roster with no freshmen and just one junior.
The team does return six letter winners from a year ago; however, five of those players are seniors so overall numbers for 2020 are already an uncertainty.
Despite the low numbers, the fourth-year coach is optimistic about the Wolves’ chance for success this season.
“We go into the season with six seniors, all of whom have much playing experience,” said Donaghy. “We’re a strong serving team, with the capabilities for a strong offense from both the outside and middle.”
Letter winners returning include seniors Elizabeth Peters (captain), Ruthanna McMurtrie, Emma Mallison, Catalina Thornburg and Maggie Mangene and a sophomore, Maria Tomasko.
“We’re also excited to welcome a transfer student to the team this year, junior Morgan Wolf, who is a strong defensive player and elevates our game,” Donaghy said.
Last year’s squad posted an 8-6 record and lost in the first round of the D6 A tournament to Juniata Valley. Lost to graduation was the Wolves’ four-year starting setter — a position Donaghy said definitely needs rebuilt upon in 2019.
“We’d love to get back to the district tournament and make it past the first round,” she said, “and post wins against some key teams as well. Overall, the team hopes to be considered a threat in the district. I believe that we have the ability to pull off some upsets this season.”
Donaghy said she expects the team to be good stewards of Saint Joseph’s athletics – “representing themselves and the school in a positive and effective way.”
“I expect my team to grow in the game and compete. Many of my seniors play club and in various rec leagues during the off season – they’ve already caught ‘the bug’ for the game,” she said. “My expectation — or more specifically my hope for them — is that they continue to play as long as they can in whatever way they can as they get older.”
Saint Joseph's opens the regular season at 6 p.m. Monday at home against Moshannon Valley.