Now, with a more experienced and healthy roster, things are looking even better for the Golden Bears in ’13.
Holy Innocents’ was 19-12 overall and a perfect 4-0 in 5A action going into Tuesday’s matches with Pace and Galloway and were the top-ranked team in the PrepCountry.com Class A poll as of last week.
The Bears persevered through a demanding early season schedule, recording wins over Westminster and Class AAAAAA teams Lassiter and Milton in the process.
“We started the season with a really tough schedule, especially for Holy Innocents’ and our history,” coach Taylor Noland said. “We’re really pleased with what we’ve done so far. We’ve had quite a few tough matches along the way, but it made us better in the end.”
The Bears have built on their success of a year ago when they made a deep run into the state playoffs despite having six freshmen on their roster and were missing a number of key players in their lineup due to injuries over the course of the season.
“Last year, we had a lot of injuries and, so far, we’ve been able to avoid that this year,” Noland said. “We have good senior leadership and a majority of our team plays year-round, so they were improving in the offseason as well.”
Noland said Holy Innocents’ has also benefitted from a deep, balanced and cohesive lineup as well.
“We’re pretty sound all the way around,” she said. “We don’t have that one go-to player. We have a lot of depth in each of our positions and we have a great group of girls. They love playing together, they love being around together and as a coach, it’s good to have that kind of morale.”
Sophomore outside hitter Haley Collins, junior outside hitter Sarah Joe, sophomore Sarah Porter and senior libero Mary Hollis Schmidt have been the key players for the Bears, who Noland said are aiming for another run at the Class A state title.
“We certainly hope to make another [deep postseason run] and we’re continuing to train that way,” she said. “Obviously, every match that we play in the postseason is going to be pressure, so it’s going to be how each team responds to the pressure in that situation. We have to play each match as it comes.”