PITTSFIELD -- In 2012, the St. Joseph High School volleyball team had seven members, including three seniors.
The math, then, wasn't particularly hard for returning seniors and co-captains Andrea Krahforst-Lang and Aileen Archambault, as well as teammate Leanne Hamilton, a sophomore.
"We knew we were going to have a hard time fielding a team this year," said Krahforst-Lang.
"We had heard of a couple people who were interested, and we were hopeful," said Archambault.
But when tryouts rolled around a month ago, the trio were the only three athletes in the St. Joseph gym. In addition to graduation losses, a fourth returnee opted to play soccer.
It seemed a distinct possibility that Archambault and Krahforst-Lang were going to be captains of nothing.
"I was a little nervous, and kind of disappointed," said Hamilton.
So was coach Peter Strack.
But rather than fold the tent, Strack asked his captains to put out the word.
"I wanted to take a wait-and-see attitude," he said. "I was hoping we would get a few kids after the school year started."
On the first day of school about two weeks ago, incredibly, nine candidates showed up. Not just enough to field a team, but enough to field a junior varsity squad.
"I was so excited," said Krahforst-Lang.
Or maybe not so incredibly.
"Don't give me any credit," said Strack. "All the credit goes to our captains, Aileen and Andrea. They drummed up enough support."
The two captains confirmed that they scoured the school recruiting potential teammates. Still, Archambault was not as confident as Krahforst-Lang.
"Truthfully? I thought, ‘No way.' " said Archambault. "Those first five practices the week before school, it was just the three of us. And I want to tell you, it is very, very hard to practice volleyball with just three people. But Andrea had faith."
"She was sure we were going to field a team," said Hamilton.
"I did have faith," said Krahforst-Lang, laughing. "But that's because this is my only sport. Aileen plays another sport [swimming]. This is all I have. As a senior, I really wanted to play my last year."
The new players don't have a lot of experience, said Strack.
"Most of them can play the game, but they don't really have any experience at the varsity level," said Strack.
So far, that lack of experience has shown itself in Berkshire County play. The Crusaders are 0-4 so far.
But they are improving, said Strack. And they are grateful to have a team.
"We've talked about it, and we probably won't win a lot of games," said Hamilton. "So we're going to play and have a good time. And it's been fun so far, because this is a good group of players."
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