Cardinal returns just two starters from the team that finished 21-5 overall and won the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division championship last season.
Despite a youth movement, the Huskies are on a mission to defend their league title and advance deeper into the postseason.
“We are young but mighty,” fifth-year head coach Karisca Chambers said. “We have the potential to go very far and defend our CVC title.”
To achieve their goals, the Huskies will be forced to continue to work hard, be aggressive and jell together as one cohesive unit.
Equally as important, the Huskies must have a short memory and refuse to allow one mistake to turn into another.
“We can pick ourselves up if we are down,” Chambers said.
With just two seniors and six sophomores in the varsity rotation, Cardinal will have its ups and downs. The Huskies can’t afford to stay down for long.
That’s where the senior leadership of captains Andrea Mack and Taylor Soltis come into play.
Mack, a middle hitter, recorded 70 kills, 36 solo blocks and 41 block assists last season while Soltis, a libero/defensive specialist, led the Huskies with 312 digs.
“Andrea is a great leader and blocker. She swings hard and helps the girls on the court,” Chambers said. “Taylor is a natural leader and a consistent passer. She has a wicked serve and reads the floor well.”
Junior outside hitter Jessie Proch also will fit into a leadership role for the season. She finished with 24 kills last year.
“I’m looking for Jessie to be one of our big hitters this season,” Chambers said. “She is coachable and has great energy.”
Sophomore setter Haley Domen returns after a strong freshman season. She led the team with 795 assists on the way to being named first-team All-CVC.
“Haley is quick, consistent and reads the floor well,” Chambers said. “She is aware of the court and is a great defensive player.”
Junior defensive specialist/libero Alaina Strever recorded 247 digs last fall and sophomore middle blocker Karalyn Rutkowski is expected to be a force at the net in her first varsity action.
“Alaina is all over the floor hustling after balls. She wants the ball hit at her and has no fear,” Chambers said. “Karalyn is our tallest player and blocks the net very well. She has no varsity experience but plays higher than her age.”
Sophomores Lorelei Hutchinson, Lindsay Hissa, Gabby Nemeth and Grace Whitney will provide the Huskies with quality depth.
Hutchinson is an outside hitter while Hissa will line up on the right side.
“This is a new position for Lorelei but she hits the ball well and has great defense. I expect big things from her,” Chambers said. “Lindsay is a high-energy player who is a great serve-receive passer. She is also a strong blocker.”
Nemeth and Whitney are defensive specialists.
“Gabby was the libero for JV last year. She reads the ball well and is very controlled with her passing,” Chambers said. “Grace also has a powerful and wicked serve. She is all over the court diving and saving balls.”