One year should make a huge difference for the still youthful Fenwick girls volleyball team. The Friars return four starters, three of which are juniors, from a team that went 16-17 last season.

Juniors Kelly Brennan (6-foot-1, outside hitter), Sarah Hunt (5-10, middle hitter) and Jenna Vondrasek (5-9, setter) are back, along with senior middle hitter Nandi Tense (5-9).

Hunt led the team in hitting percentage last season with 2.3, as well as blocks – 1.2 per game.

Adding to the team’s depth this season are returning seniors Carriann Soukal, Laura Shuler, Rachel Greenberg and Kiley McLean.

Second year head coach Kelly Colangelo said she anticipates Soukal having a big season this year.

“Carri proves herself everyday in the gym and has done all the work outside the gym to shape herself into a great libero – we expect great things from her,” she said.

Newcomers expecting to make an impact include Rachel Best (6-1, outside hitter), Courtney Ryan (5-7, outside hitter), Alexa Javors (5-5, defense), Carly Kenny (5-5, defense) and Julia Garibotti (5-5, setter).

The Friars will still have a hard time cracking the top 3 in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. Joliet Catholic won the Class 3A State Championship last season, while Benet took second in 4A. Nazareth, Providence and Marist will likely again be tough to beat. Fenwick finished 3-6 in the difficult conference last season.

“We are looking to play solid defense and out play our opponents,” said Colangelo. “I think we will be able to handle long rallies and all-day tournaments better than most other teams because of our physical conditioning.”

The Friars begin the season on Friday hosting Hinsdale Central (6 p.m.). They’ll host cross-town rival OPRF on Sept. 10 (6 p.m.) and area-rival Trinity on Sept. 29 (6 p.m.).

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...