Chemistry holds the key for OPRF
OPRF returns senior setter Amy Schembari along with junior middle Symone Speech and senior outside hitter Kiley Nelson. Sophomore transfer Ariel Hamby joins the Huskies as potentially another impact player hoping to power the Huskies to the top of the West Suburban (Silver) Conference standings.
"We've got some outstanding hitters on this team," head coach Don August said. "[Schembari] needs to make sure that the distribution keeps everybody in the game."
As a senior leader, Schembari realizes it's her responsibility make sure the team clicks and ensure everybody is invested in the team's goals together.
"I think a huge part of being successful is staying together as a team," Schembari said. "Team unity is going to be very important, so I'm going to promote that a lot. Besides that, I just have to play my game."
Schembari holds her own goals in addition to leading the Huskies' objective of coming out on top in a competitive conference race.
"I'm really going to focus on consistent sets," she said. "I want to help my hitters be really successful by giving them good sets to hit. I want to keep everyone together and make them feel confident that they can take any hit anytime.
OPRF opened up the season with a 25-16, 25-11 win against Trinity.
Young Friars on the rise
Fenwick, which finished 11-20 overall last season, saw its season come to an end in the first round of the state playoffs at the hands of a very young and talented Lyons Township team.
Although the Friars also will field a very young team themselves this season, Fenwick returns some experience with senior middle Samantha Pethokoukis and senior setter Caileigh Doherty. Pethokoukis, who is ranked among the top 20 players in the state, believes that the Friars can pick up where last year's seniors left off and be competitive in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference.
"I'm really optimistic about this season because we have a lot of players returning from last season," Pethokoukis said. "We did have a lot of people graduate last year, but all of the younger girls have stepped up and are really filling in the roles of the seniors who have graduated."
The Friars opened their season with a three-set loss to St. Ignatius. Despite the early season setback to the Wolfpack, Fenwick remains confident about make some noise in the competitive GCAC.
"I think a lot of people aren't expecting us [to win conference]," Doherty said. "We're underdogs in a lot of people's eyes because our program is really young, but we came into this season a lot more prepared and we're definitely ready to surprise some people."