No Skye Hart.
No Sydney Scott.
No Vicky Ferraro but Chariho girls volleyball coach Doug Bliven is saying no problem when it comes to replacing his three graduated star players.
“We look pretty good,” Bliven says. “People talk about how we lost some players from last year and they were good players but I think over the past couple years we’ve been able to develop the team to the point where there’s someone behind them to take their spots.”
There’s little doubting that Hart, Scott and Ferraro – along with classmates Sue Beil and Kayla Adams – were a big part of last season’s 7-9 Charger team that finished tied with North Kingstown for third in the Division I-South standings.
Yet while the three seniors spent most of the season in the spotlight, Chariho quietly developed its depth to the point where it could be even stronger this year.
“We have more options,” Bliven says. “It was much more difficult for me to decide who was in that first group coming out.
“There’s probably one more position I’m looking at to fill but we are very deep. There are many girls that can be competitive and help the team.”
Similarly to what the team did with Scott last season, senior Haley Duscha will be moving from middle to outside hitter where she will be paired opposite junior Rhiannon Wilson, who came on very strong at the end of last season.
Senior Sydnei Paige will take Duscha’s spot in the middle, while defensive ace senior Maddie Cusamano will take Hart’s spot at libero.
“[Cusamano] could have been the libero the past two years but we had Skye,” Bliven says. “It was almost like we had two back row specialists with them back there.”
After two strong years setting on the junior varsity, junior Jill Rios is stepping up to play the same position at the next level this season, while senior Katie Gannon is expected to see time on the right side.
From there a number of middle hitters – including sophomore Carly Campbell, first-year junior Abby Cuddy and junior Emily Ali – are fighting for playing time.
As Bliven noted though, one of the greatest strengths of this season’s Chargers is their depth and a number of other players could work their way onto the court before season’s end.
“We have a lot of talent and we have a lot of experience,” Bliven says. “They’ve come along very well and they’re doing things that I haven’t really challenged my teams to do yet.
“I’m excited to see what it looks like starting this week. They have a lot of talent and a lot of potential. If we play to our potential I think we should be definitely be playing in the playoffs.”
As far is the Chargers’ schedule goes it starts off fairly generous as the team will take on a Toll Gate team that finished 0-16 a season ago today at 6:30 p.m. in Warwick.
From there, however, Chariho will find out just how good it is.
Monday, Sept. 9 the Chargers face off against an improved South Kingstown team with a ton of height and will wrap the week with games against Prout and North Kingstown Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
From there Chariho will wrap up its first round of D-I South play with two-time defending champion Coventry on Thursday, Sept. 19 before beginning the crossover portion of its schedule with Division I-North.