The Friars earned a share of the conference title with De La Salle last year, despite both teams finishing with a relatively underwhelming record of 11-15. Fenwick also advanced to a 2013 regional final match against Mount Carmel, which defeated the Friars in three tight games.
"Holding on to that [CCL White] conference championship was definitely a goal," Fenwick coach Katie Whitman said. "I was really pleased with our play in those last matches of the year. We knew that we were the underdogs going in [against Mount Carmel], but the fight that we put up in that last game was really impressive."
Strengthened by the experience of earning another league title and regional final berth last season, the Friars' expectations are justifiably lofty this spring.
Despite losing all-conference player Scotty Gruzska as well as all-conference and Lawless Player of the Year award winner George Cokinis to graduation, the Friars welcome back several key players this season. All-conference senior setter Joe McCauley, senior middle hitter Bob Planek and sophomore outside hitter Patrick Kenny are back, motivated and well-suited to lead the program to another CCL White Division title.
"They all have great leadership," Whitman said. "I'm lucky to have a younger team. To have a sophomore as one of my captains is a great sign for the future of the program. Having two senior leaders and a sophomore stepping up to lead our team is really going to help us out."
Sophomore Rich Moraga joins the varsity this season. He's a solid candidate to become the Friars' starting libero. Several other players from the JV team will be competing for a roster spot this week before the Friars open the season against Guerin Prep on April 3.
"There are still some players that are fighting it out for a position," Whitman said. "It's still a tight race for starting positions for some of these players, and I think it's good to have that competition."
Once again, De La Salle should battle the Friars for conference supremacy.
"We're usually neck-and-neck with De La Salle for the title," Whitman said. "They're always good competition for us and we always have really close games. They're probably our biggest competition in terms of winning another division title."
Along with winning another conference championship, another goal for Fenwick is extended run in the playoffs. Featuring a roster of promising players and talented veterans, the Friars appear to have the right mix of players to attain their goals.
"I'm confident in the leaders that I have on the court," Whitman said. "[McCauley] is really good at running the court and taking control out there. He makes sure everybody is doing what they're supposed to be doing. I think the leadership on the team is really going to bode well for us."
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