It’s still business as usual for the Convent of the Sacred Heart volleyball team.
Despite losing a bunch of highly-talented seniors to graduation, the Tigers are still expecting a memorable season.
In addition, the Tigers lost highly-successful head coach Kim Lippmann, who took a job as head coach of the Concordia College women’s volleyball team.
“The program has always been very competitive and always been a strong team,” CSH first-year head coach Beth Wilson-Jordan said. “There isn’t anything that I see this year that says we can’t be that competitive. I want them to be the best volleyball players that they can be whenever they step on the court.”
Although Wilson-Jordan is in her first season at the helm of the CSH varsity volleyball team, the head coach is certainly no stranger to the program.
In addition to being the junior varsity head coach for numerous seasons, Wilson-Jordan’s daughter Alex Jordan played on the varsity squad for three years and was the team captain during her senior year last season.
“I’ve seen a number of the players come up and I know what they can bring to the table,” Wilson-Jordan said. “Also, I know what is now expected of this program.”
Seniors Bianca Chiappelloni and Maggie Ellison will lead the Tigers, as both are the team’s co-captains.
Ellison will be playing outside this season, while Chiappelloni will be a middle hitter.
“It’s so much fun,” Ellison said. “I’ve been on this team since freshman year and I’ve loved it since then. Being a captain is just really awesome. I love leading the team and I love how close the team gets throughout the season. We have an awesome dynamic. We have a lot of new players, but we also have a lot of talented returners. I think we will have a successful season.”
Wilson-Jordan said that Ellison is a very versatile player, who has played every position on the court during her tenure at CSH, except setter. Chiappelloni has been a middle specialist for the team and has the system that Sacred Heart uses down.
“I expect my captains to be great leaders both on and off the court this season,” Wilson-Jordan said. “Both of them have been on the varsity team since freshman year, so they have a lot of great experience. Both have also been on club teams, so they have a lot of experience at that level too. I expect them to step up and be key player for us.”
The Tigers will have several volleyball players back from last year’s team. Junior Grace McKenney is a setter that has been a three-year starter on the varsity squad as setter.
“She’s a fabulous setter and reads the ball well,” Wilson-Jordan said. “She can play any position on the court. She can hit, she can set and she can read the ball really well. She’s also very quick and makes very good decisions. Grace has beautiful hands for a setter.”
Senior Jane Gerstner is another returning starter for the Tigers and will be one of the team’s outside hitters. Also returning will be junior libero Jennifer Esposito.
“I expect all my returners to be key playmakers,” Wilson-Jordan said. “Obviously they bring experience and will keep the team up when we make mistakes. They are great players for that role.”
From being with the junior varsity team and watching her daughter captain the varsity squad last season, Wilson-Jordan knows that the team’s strength is its family atmosphere.
“They play as a team,” Wilson-Jordan said. “When one person is having an off-day, it’s great that they bring the team together and raise up rather than implode. Our girls have a great ability to play as a team. It’s not about one individual. It’s about all six girls that are on the court.”
Although there are some new faces on the varsity squad, Wilson-Jordan believes her team is just as competitive as in previous seasons.
“They are fantastic,” Wilson-Jordan said. “I have a good group of girls and have enjoyed working with them so far. We had a great prep week and preseason and I’m optimistic that we will have a competitive season.”