A move last season to the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference paid dividends for St. Thomas More’s volleyball team. The Ravens played a full schedule for the first time in three seasons, went 10-5 and returned to the state tournament after a one-year absence.
Just two seniors graduated from that squad, but the Ravens undergone some significant changes. The good news is that all of the underclassmen have returned, including senior hitters Brianna Altidor and Nadia Brogan and libero Kayla Cornejo. They said St. Thomas More will be ready to compete again.
“There are a lot of new faces, but I think it’s going to be good,” Altidor said. “We just have to work together as a team and play with each other and not just people here and people there. When we play together, our full potential is really good.”
At one point, the roster had just seven players listed, but Cornejo said that was misleading. When the players showed up for summer workouts, the numbers were higher.
“I was worried, but we came in and it was a full gym. Now that we’re older, we can help out the other ones,” she said.
Opponents who discount the Ravens do so at their own risk, according to sophomore Grace Anderson.
“Last year we came in working as a team. We’re still doing that. I feel like if we keep doing that more, we can definitely knock someone out of the tournament,” she said. “Work as a team, keep doing what we’re doing, and we’ll beat some teams this year.
The Ravens will be doing so under a new coach. St. Thomas More alumna Christine Lessard has taken the reins. She will be assisted by her father, Brian, who once coached the team for eight seasons.
The team’s stiffest competition in the ESIAC will be Delmarva Christian and Holly Grove (Md.), both of whom they play twice – on back-to-back days. Aside from St. Andrew’s, Middletown visits Bishop Saltarelli Gymnasium. The Ravens’ toughest nonconference road match is the season-ender at Wilmington Friends.
Brogan liked the Maryland-heavy ESIAC schedule. “Playing Maryland teams, you don’t know these girls. This is totally new territory, We go in not knowing what we’re going to get, and we just have fun. We enjoy learning about the other team and seeing how they play.”
Home matches in CAPS
Sept. 13, 4 p.m.: SALISBURY CHRISTIAN
Sept. 18, 5:15 p.m.: GLASGOW
Sept. 19, 4 p.m.: Worcester Prep
Sept. 30, 4 p.m.: Salisbury Christian
Oct. 2, 4 p.m.: Holly Grove
Oct. 4, 4 p.m.: Delmarva Christian
Oct. 7, 4 p.m.: WORCESTER PREP
Oct. 11, 4 p.m.: Seaford
Oct. 15, 4 p.m.: DELMARVA CHRISTIAN
Oct. 16, 4 p.m.: HOLLY GROVE
Oct. 21, 4 p.m.: MIDDLETOWN
Oct. 25, 5 p.m.: MOT Charter
Oct. 26, 1 p.m.: Friends