Coming off a 2013 that saw a district title return to Charlotte and a second place finish in the CAAC Gold, the Charlotte varsity volleyball team has a lot to be excited about in 2014. Looming large, however, is the uncertainty of a new league chalk full of quality opponents.

“The new League of the I-8 seems to be the biggest challenge of the season, competing against new schools weekly,” stated head coach Dennis Richardson. “Harper Creek, Coldwater and Marshall are state contenders every year.”

Charlotte returns a lot of experience from last year’s team and once the players get a handle on a new offense Richardson has installed for this season, he feels the team can contend for a top spot in the new league.

“Installing a new offensive system should take a while to start clicking, but we are depending on our defense (blocking, floor defense) to win matches for us.” Richardson stated.

Top returners from last season’s 26-11-1 team include Emliy Helfrich, Mikayla Skowronski, Stephanie Zimmerman, Kirstin Anderson, Maddie Grace, Kensey VanPatten and Kylie Smith.

The team travels to the Perry Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 23 and then competes in the Fowlerville Invitational on Thursday, Aug. 28.

Maple Valley

A new league means new beginnings for the Maple Valley varsity volleyball team. Coach Sarah Carpenter said her team is focusing on this year and forward.

“We expect to push ourselves to new limits,” Carpenter stated.

The Lions must replace Kandys Larsen who served as the team’s setter last year. Carpenter said developing a strong setter and team leader is an important aspect of this year’s season. She said the team has set a goal of enhancing the program and taking it to the next level.

Maple Valley joins the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference this season. The Lions will host Lakewood on Tuesday, Sept. 2 and Pennfield on Thursday, Sept. 4. Matches begin at 6:30 p.m.