Rebuilding is, by rule of a thumb, not usually a word any coach likes to have in their vocabulary when coming into the start of a new season. In the case of the Lexington High School girls' varsity volleyball team, however, that is the reality as they try to replace lost production from a few key positions on the floor.
To go along with the graduation of their senior leaders from last season, the Lady Minutemen will also have to deal with replacing the loss of Pahreesa Rashida, arguably their best all around player from a year ago, who's family moved on to Michigan.
Despite all of that, head coach Jane Bergin remains encouraged by what she has seen from her team thus far as they go trough the preseason paces.
"The girls have all been putting in a tremendous effort so far in preseason, being really diligent in drills and pushing one another to perfect their play," Bergin said. "So that's something that you just love to see from your team as a coach and makes me feel confident that it's going to be a good season."
The Minutemen will rely on a returning core made up of co-captains Christine Barons and setter Alex Pion. Pion will have perhaps the toughest job as she will be counted on to run the offense.
Defensively, LHS will look to Sam Jandl, Jackie Oram and Taylor Meeks to anchor the back line. Erin Daravant rounds out the returners and will see her share of playing time as well.
Lexington Volleyball Season Preview Capsule
Coach: Jane Bergin
League: Middlesex League
Last Year: 11-9 (Lost in first round of MIAA State Tournament)
Key to Success: LHS' success will depend heavily on finding an offensive groove early in the season. "I think we'll be strong defensively but our biggest question mark really lies in finding consistent hitters and girls that will be able to step up offensively," Bergin said.
Game to Watch: The annual match.
Coach's Take: "I have plenty of confidence in our returning players, and with the positive attitude and work ethic the girls have had so far during preseason, we're really excited about the possibilities for the team this season."
A year ago, the Lexington High School varsity field hockey team looked to be powerhouse-in-the-making as they got their 2010 season off to an impressive 7-1 start. But they were quickly derailed by an unprecedented amount of season-ending injuries to starting players (7 in all), and the Minutemen went 3-7-2 the rest of the way to end up with a 10-8-2 overall record.
An encouraging event came out of their tragic downturn last season, though. Head coach Ellen Vera was forced to play a number of underclassmen in their first round state tournament game, in which LHS came away with a stunning overtime victory before getting knocked out in the second round.
Lexington will hope its younger players can continue to develop as they look for improvement in 2011 and another appearance in the MIAA tournament this fall.
"We definitely took a hit and lost a number of key players from last year's team, so there are some question marks for us coming into this season," Vera said. "We have eight seniors this year, but I'd still say we're a young team in terms of experience."
LHS will count on its four senior captains Charlotte Kinkard, Michelle Barnes, Taylor Cambell and Jessica Pietre to provide leadership both on and off the field. Second-year player Fiona Fitzgerald, who was the only freshman to make the squad a year ago, will also get heavy playing time and be counted on to produce.
Luckily, the Minutemen have veteran depth in perhaps the most important position on the field as they return both goalies from last year's team. Senior Sarah Kimball and junior Jenn Lee will split the playing time in goal this season for Lexington.
Lexington Field Hockey Season Preview Capsule
Coach: Ellen Vera
League: Middlesex League
Last Year: 10-8-2 (Lost in second round of MIAA State Tournament)
Key to Success: Strong transition game, getting ball from defense to offense quickly and effectively. "I feel that our forward line is very strong with a lot of returning players, but we'll have to develop young players in our midline and backfield, so if they can develop and mature then we'll be OK," Vera said.
Game to Watch: Middlesex League showdowns with Watertown, Reading and Winchester.
Coach's Take: "We definitely have some effective girls returning from last year's team, especially up front and in goal. If some of our younger players can develop in the midfield and backfield I think we'll be very competitive this year."