Saturday September 1, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The St. Joseph's volleyball team doesn't have great numbers, but according to coach Peter Strack, they do have some great players.

And that's enough for Strack.

"We have eight players on the varsity this year," said Strack. "In fact, we have eight players in the program, so we won't be carrying a JV team this season. But we have a good nucleus of players. I think we'll be all right."

The team is led by All-Eagle outside and middle hitter Maddie Roulier. She is the best player on a team that posted the best improvement of any volleyball team in Berkshire County last year, and one of the best turnarounds of any sports team in the Berkshires in 2011.

St. Joseph's moved up 10 games from 2010, to 2011, going from 2-16 to 12-8. The squad advanced to the Western Mass. Division III semifinals, before losing to No. 2 seed Mahar.

Roulier was one of the best all-around players in the county. She had 99 kills, 39 aces, 13 blocks and 22 digs for St. Joseph's last year. But in addition to Roulier, Strack returns Virginia Goggins, an exceptional setter, and Elena Kelsey, who will be an outside hitter. Both are seniors, both are experienced.

This group, along with junior Andrea Krashforst-Lang, who Strack shuttled from the varsity to the junior varsity last year, make up the core of the team that Strack believes will continue to be competitive.

"Last year, there were a couple teams that we knew we could beat," he said "That probably won't be the case this year. We won't have any easy matches this year."

In addition to the aforementioned players, Strack has two freshmen, a sophomore and another junior on the roster. Some of those players have experience, some don't.

"It hurts us somewhat, because obviously, we don't have enough players for two full teams in practice," said Strack. "But it's an okay number. I would like to have a few more players, but we'll be all right."

Last year, Strack rotated between six and seven players in and out of games. He plans a similar rotation this year.

"Most of the time, we used six [in 2011]," he said.

His goals for the team, said Strack, remain the same as last year: be competitive and make the Western Mass. tournament.

"I think it's realistic to think we have a chance to make the tournament," he said. "I think we have the potential."

To reach Derek Gentile:
dgentile@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @derekgentile.