BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW
Last year, the Cambrian women?s volleyball team marched through the regular season with a perfect 12-0 record.
In the playoffs, the women trounced the competition winning three straight games on their way to their second OCAA volleyball championship in three years.
At the National championships, the women gave it their all, but finished fifth.
The team featured several prominent OCAA all-stars and was the team to beat during the 2002/03 season.
This year the team, gutted by graduating students, including the two main centres and two main powers, was looking at a tough time to repeat as the top team in Ontario.
Enter an off-season where the coaching staff worked hard at bringing in outstanding recruits to continue the excellence and perhaps challenge for a provincial title once again.
Head coach Dale Beausoleil knows his team will have to work hard at filling big holes, but he hopes key veterans and highly skilled rookies will help fill that void.
?We have six rookies on the team this year and the biggest thing for the coaching staff right now is to gel the team,? said Beausoleil. ?We have some good recruits and some very good returning veterans this year and they will all have to work extremely hard. It?s a nice group of girls and team cohesion is already strong.?
Beausoleil will be banking on strong performances from veterans Kristin Martel, Kenzie Jermey and Erin Nesbitt.
Martel, a local player, is entering her third year in the league.
?Kristin will be our starting middle. She?s a very strong offensive player for us and she brings a great attitude and work ethic.?
Jermey will be a defensive specialist for the club.
?Kenzie will be key for us in the back row. She?s a strong serve receiver and she has great passing skills,? said Beausoleil. ?She?s extremely quick and her ability to read the play has improved greatly.?
Nesbitt provides the heart and soul for the team.
?Erin?s all about team play. She?s very vocal and quick on the court and brings a superior work ethic. She will play power for us.?
The squad has an impressive core of rookies eager to meet the challenge.
Beausoleil brought in six-foot-three Lisa Martin to bolster the club?s overall performance. Although she?s a college rookie, Martin brings two years of university volleyball experience to the team. She also played three years for Team Ontario.
?Lisa is the total package. She can pass, block and hit. She knows the game well and in time will be a great team leader,? said Beausoleil. ?Her sheer size is intimidating and no doubt she?s an elite player.?
Another university product, Katie Kelly comes from St. Francis Xavier and will be counted on to supply solid play.
?Katie is very athletic and has played numerous positions.?
Laura Fowler, another rookie, brings plenty of potential and size. She stands six-foot-two.
?Laura?s sheer size and strength will make her a force to be reckoned with.?
With a strong offence, Beausoleil likes his team?s chances this year.
?When we pass the ball, we will be tough to beat. We would like to win the provincials again.?
Martel likes the way her team is shaping up.
?Since the beginning, the team has improved as a whole. We?re meshing and if you have a team that gets along, they play well together.?
Jermey knows it will take a lot of work, but hopes the team can repeat last year?s success.
?Dale has done a great job here and we have good veterans here and filled holes. We should be in the provincial final again.?
Martin knows her university and Team Ontario experience will help the team through its transition period.
?I bring a lot of game experience and I have had a lot of leadership roles in the past. We?re going to be a big, strong team.?
Cambrian kicks off their season on Oct. 22 against cross-town rival College Boreal.