St. Mark’s has a long, proud volleyball history, and the run of success figures to continue this season for the talented Spartans. They feature one of the state’s more fearsome hitters, Savannah Seemans, and a young supporting cast that will battle for Catholic Conference supremacy.
The Spartans lost to just two teams last regular season – twice each to Ursuline and Padua, who met for the state championship – and reached the Bob Carpenter Center, falling to Tower Hill in the consolation match. Six seniors from that squad have moved on, and those who have returned or are new to the program are eager to make their own legacy.
Three freshmen join the varsity, joining three sophomores. The junior class includes Seemans and another hitter, Abby Thibodeau, along with defensive specialists Alyssa Berggrun and Kathryn Deveney, and Grace Fedor. Olivia Smith and Ashley Tucker are the lone seniors. Thibodeau said physical skills have not been the only focus at preseason practice.
“With a young team, you have to focus on confidence because this is all pretty new to them,” Thibodeau said. “Just kind of pulling everyone together and having a good team atmosphere, especially in practice. We just have to keep working hard.”
The new faces are not confined to the players. Former A.I. duPont all-stater Courtney MacDonald has returned to the coaching staff, as have two members of St. Mark’s Class of 2014 who played on the school’s back-to-back state championship teams in 2010 and 2011.
“It’s also good to have Abbie Mirabella on the sideline and Peyton Reno, and Courtney’s back. Especially Abbie as a hitter to help me and all the other hitters, and Peyton as a defensive specialist,” Thibodeau said. Both Mirabella and Reno recently wrapped up four-year college playing careers.
The Catholic Conference presents three tough foes twice each during the season, and the rest of St. Mark’s schedule is no picnic, either. The Spartans’ nonconference slate includes road trips to three tournament teams from last season, while five others will visit the Pike Creek campus. All told, 13 of their 15 matches are against tournament teams, and another, St. Georges, who hosts St. Mark’s on Friday at 5 p.m., was knocking on the postseason door.
“I think it’s just such a great atmosphere, and it’s so much fun,” she said. “We’re really working on teamwork and mentality and how to become a better team.”
Home matches in CAPS
Sept. 7, 5 p.m.: at St. Georges
Sept. 11, 7:15 p.m.: FRIENDS
Sept. 18, 7:15 p.m.: at Padua
Sept. 20, 7:15 p.m. at St. Elizabeth
Sept. 25, 6:15 p.m. at Archmere
Sept. 27, 7:15 p.m. URSULINE
Oct. 2, 7:15 p.m. DELAWARE MILITARY ACADEMY
Oct. 4, 7:15 p.m. ST. ELIZABETH
Oct. 9, 7:15 p.m. WILMINGTON CHRISTIAN
Oct. 11, 5:15 p.m. at Wilmington Charter
Oct. 16, 7:15 p.m.: RED LION
Oct. 18, 7:15 p.m. NEWARK CHARTER
Oct. 23, 7:15 p.m. PADUA
Oct. 27, 1:45 p.m. at Ursuline