Few volleyball programs have been as consistently good as Ursuline, which reached the consolation round of the state tournament last year after a 13-3 regular season. This year’s team is looking to return to the top of the heap after taking the state title two seasons ago, and there’s no reason why they can’t.
The Raiders will send out an experienced lineup in 2019, anchored on the back line by senior Sydney Davis at libero. Other seniors include hitters Kylie Nocket and Emma Popham, and all-state setter Cassidy Markel. Avery Brown and Emma Raftovich add depth to the front line, and newcomer Heyli Velasquez will add another defensive whiz. Those players will help overcome the loss of all-state senior Corinne Furey, who will miss the year with a knee injury.
Markel has an idea why Ursuline is among the upper echelon of teams.
“I think all of our players are pretty open-minded. Each player adds her own unique touch to the team, and everybody brings something to the table, whether it’s defense or it’s offense,” she said.
Nocket said the seniors are ready to add to the program’s legacy, which includes 12 state championships.
“I wouldn’t say pressure,” she said. “It’s more like responsibility because now you’re the one that’s leading the team and setting the tone. We have to be a lot more disciplined when we’re the ones on the forefront. It’s really rewarding for us to be in our fourth year and getting ready for the season. We just want it more than ever.”
To get it, the Raiders will have to march through an imposing gauntlet of a schedule. Besides the Catholic Conference opponents, they host Indian River, Tower Hill, Delaware Military and Archmere, and they visit Friends, Newark Charter and Wilmington Charter. They also are at a tri-meet at Bishop Shanahan (Pa.).
Playing the Catholic rivals twice each can by tricky, Markel said, but they love it.
“It’s never the same game. You have to change your strategy each game because if they know what you’re doing then you’re not making any progress. I think you have to take control in the game and turn it around,” she said.
Nocket is ready for the matches to count.
“More excited than you know. It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’re all ready for it. We’re going to be disciplined and we’re going to work hard.”
Home matches in CAPS
Sept. 7, 4:45 p.m.: INDIAN RIVER
Sept. 18, 7:15 p.m.: TOWER HILL
Sept. 24, 5:15 p.m.: Friends
Sept. 26, 7:15 p.m.: SAINT MARK’S
Sept. 28, 10 a.m.: Bishop Shanahan (Pa.) tri-meet
Oct. 2, 7:15 p.m.: Padua
Oct. 11, 6:15 p.m.: Newark Charter
Oct. 14, 7:15 p.m.: ST. ELIZABETH
Oct. 17, 5:15 p.m.: Wilmington Charter
Oct. 19, time TBA: DELAWARE MILITARY
Oct. 22, 7:15 p.m.: ARCHMERE
Oct. 24, 7:15 p.m.: PADUA
Oct. 26, 7:15 p.m.: Saint Mark’s