Berkshire returns just two starters from the team that won back-to-back district titles, forcing the Badgers to rebuild its roster.
That may seem like good news for the rest of the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division, but once the Badgers hit their stride they should be in the hunt for the league title.
“We are young this year,” 15th-year head coach Joni Prots said. “We do not have a lot of varsity experience and we have girls stepping into new roles, so that is why this preseason is so important for us. We need to get some time on the court together as a group.”
The Badgers, who finished 16-10 overall and 11-3 in league play last season, are projected to start just one senior, three juniors and a pair of freshmen.
Berkshire’s depth will come from three juniors and a sophomore.
“We are using the preseason to figure out who we are this season and I feel that once we do that, this group has a lot of potential this year,” Prots said.
Senior Kayla Dingman is the most veteran of the Badgers, having been a member of the varsity for each of the past three seasons. The outside hitter recorded 15 kills and 64 assists last season.
“Kayla is a four-year letter winner but is again being asked to have a different role on the team,” Prots said. “She will also need to be our leader on the court this year.”
Junior middle hitter/setter Mollee Chapman gained valuable experience on the varsity squad last season. She recorded 118 kills, 32 blocks and 18 assists last year.
“Mollee played varsity last year and did a great job in the middle for us,” Prots said. “This season she is also being asked to set. She is making adjustments with this new job and will have to be a leader for our offense.”
Junior outside hitter Delaney Tucek has the talent and experience to become the game-changer the Badgers will need this season.
She finished second on the team last season with 182 kills and third on the squad with 210 digs. She also pitched in with 41 assists on the way to being named first-team All-CVC and second-team all-district.
“Delaney is returning to her role on the outside this year but also has to become one of our leaders on the court,” Prots said. “She has our most varsity playing experience this year and will have to use that experience to help the team as we find out who we are.”
Freshman Maddy Triskett has had an immediate impact in the preseason. She is expected to start at setter.
“Maddy is new to our program and is stepping into a big role,” Prots said. “She is still learning but is fitting in well to our program.”
Junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Lauren Lappert and freshman right-side hitter Sierra Berman round out Berkshire’s projected starting lineup.
Juniors Heather Rish (middle hitter), Carly Snow (defensive specialist) and Tori Vannoy (setter) and sophomore Angie Romano (right-side/defensive specialist) will come off the bench to help the Badgers.
Berkshire opens the season at Mayfield on Saturday. Chagrin Falls also is scheduled to compete.