Despite graduating five key players, the Prout girls’ volleyball team is once again expected to contend for a Division 1 championship.
Gone from last year’s squad are All-Staters Elise Walsh, Emily Caswell and Addie Pendergast, along with Tory Kern and Kim Rameika.
While that’s a lot of talent to lose in one year, the Crusaders are confident about their chances to win their third consecutive Division 1 championship and sixth overall.
“I expect we will be one of the favorites to win the state championship again when playoff time is here,” said head coach Dan Greene.
Two returning starters from last season’s title run are Jenna Walsh and Alexa Levesque. Walsh, who was named Third Team All-Division in 2010, collected 187 digs as the libero. Levesque, a middle blocker, had the best hitting efficiency on the team at .365 and the most blocks with 40.
Juniors Tori Jedson and Brooke Sullivan will play important roles on this year’s squad.
“I expect Tori to be one of the top setters in the state and I expect Brooke to carry most of the offensive load,” said Greene. “I’m not sure about the other positions yet. My team is well-rounded and all of them
will receive significant playing time.”
Greene hasn’t named captains yet, but isn’t worried about a lack of leadership.
“They are all leaders,” explained Greene. “This might be the most team-oriented team I have ever coached.”
The fifth-year coach predicts the toughest challengers for the state championship will be South Kingstown and Coventry in Division 1-South and Mount St. Charles and Ponaganset in Division 1-North.
The Crusaders prepared for this season by attending volleyball camp at the University of Rhode Island, competing in tournaments and playing pick-up games.
While the stars of last year’s team are no longer present, Prout looks forward to defending its championship. The first match of the season will be on Sept. 7, when the Crusaders will host North Kingstown at 6:30 p.m.