(Aug. 30, 2013) Worcester Prep offered a volleyball program for the first time in 2011 and not one of the Lady Mallards had much, if any, experience playing the sport.
Several of the girls competing this year for new Worcester head coach, Karen Hammer, now have three years of experience under their belts.
“I was on the team the very first year it came to Worcester and the bounds we’ve made since that year is just unbelievable,” said senior Claire Stickler. “It’s only preseason, but we’re making a lot of progress. I think this year will be our best yet.”
Also returning on the court for their senior year are Bethany Wolpin and setter McKenna Shanahan, both team members since they were sophomores.
“I just want to make sure everyone’s really pumped up for practice and they’re having a good time. Fun is everything,” Wolpin said. “The goal is that everybody learns, that we bond, we make good friends and we play as a team.”
Hammer, who will be assisted by Cheryl Brown, also new to the program, said she is excited to coach the Mallards this season.
Adjusting to the transition of having a new coach can sometimes be difficult, but things have gone smoothly since preseason began a few weeks ago and all the players have shown improvement, Hammer said.
“The girls were very accepting right from the beginning and eager to play,” she said. “The goal is to improve every day, maintain good sportsmanship and passion for the game.”
Hammer currently has 14 players on her roster, but a few more may be added.
Also back to compete are juniors Mattie Maull (Peninsula Athletic Christian Conference, 2012 All-Tournament Team) and setter Cecily Sass.
Maull and Sass, along with the three seniors, have participated since the program’s inception.
Last year the team’s season came to an end with a loss in the semifinals of the PACC tournament.
“We have a lot of talented returning players,” Hammer said. “The team is very strong. I think they’ll do well.”
Sophomores Bridget Brown, Madison Doody, Erika Smith and Taylor Hawkins (injured) round out the list of returning players.
Newcomers include freshmen Shelby Cannatelli, Karlie Southcomb and Lauren Meoli, sophomore Sarah Koon and junior Michelle Curtis.
“We’ve got a really great batch of new [players] so I’m really excited about it,” Stickler said. “We have to be encouraging, teach them the basics and I think we’ll be really strong.”