According to head coach Linda Ghilarducci, this year's squad has at least one quality which makes it a worthy successor to Liberty's great teams of the recent past. "I have not seen this type of work ethic in years," said Ghilarducci. "The camaraderie in this group is extremely high."
That sense of togetherness could be attributed in part to the fact that the Lions return seven players from last year's varsity squad, including three-year varsity players Melissa Forde and Cheyenne Parker.
Forde is expected to be a linchpin in the Lions' lineup this season, providing a versatile option Ghilarducci can utilize at multiple positions. She has experience at the setter position, but is also recognized as a great passer and likely the best defensive player on the team. Because of a rule change this year allowing the libero position to serve, the senior's skills will also be utilized at that position.
Parker, meanwhile, plays on the attack for the Lions from the opposite side, and the lefty did very well on the outside at the recent Deer Valley Tournament. Liberty will look to use her experience attacking in the frontcourt this season.
Other keys to the Lions' offensive attack will be returners Jenna Siegfried and Corinne Costa. The two underclassmen are also key components to Liberty's offensive attack, as they represent both the present and the future of the volleyball program.
Another returner in the frontcourt is senior Megan Sullivan, who started on the outside for the Lions last year, but is playing in the middle this year in order to provide Liberty with quickness at the position.
For five consecutive years, Liberty has benefited from having future NCAA Division I setters on the squad. This year the team will be looking for somebody to fill those huge shoes. Kaylee Swift, a junior, has stepped up and is gaining her first varsity experience as a setter over this past weekend.
Helping the Lions' cause defensively is junior defensive specialist Hanna Tague, who played on the varsity team last season and is joined this year by younger sister Colleen.
Ghilarducci got her first look at her 2007 team in game action at the recent Deer Valley Tournament, where the Lions were matched up against some of the best teams in the Bay Area.
Despite tough competition and a winless weekend, Liberty was very competitive in each of its matches, and showed several signs that bode well for the upcoming season. Ghilarducci warned not to look at the overall outcome of the tournament when sizing up the team's chances this season.
"We've always been in the consolation bracket at (the Deer Valley) tournament," said Ghilarducci. "Even with our team that went to state, they only won a couple matches there."
Ghilarducci is optimistic that with the blend of athletic ability and work ethic displayed by this year's team, it will only continue to play better as the season progresses. "This team will peak in league play, especially as more experience is gained throughout the schedule," the coach said.
The Lions started their Bay Valley Athletic League schedule on Thursday when they hosted rival Freedom after the Press went to print. The team returns to the court on Tuesday, Sept. 18, when it travels to Ygnacio Valley, and will be back in action two days later when it travels to Heritage on Thursday, Sept. 20.