Coach: Eric Vackert, fifth season.?
2012: 14-10, 7-4 Midland Athletic League.
Returning Letterwinners: Seniors Shelby Seifert; Logan Johnson; Makenzie Wentling; Taylor Fletcher. Junior Adrienne Hackworth. Sophomores Sydney Wentling; Shelby Kin.
Carey Volleyball:?(front, left) Logan Johnson, Victoria Woods, Presley Elchert, Shelby Seifert, Makenzie Wentling, Mary Jo Bash, Taylor Fletcher (back) Eric Vackert, Joanna Worst, Leah Kuhlman, Sydney Wentling, Shelby Kin, Adrienne Hackworth, Claire Allison, Kim Hiler, Teresa Jacoby.
Others: Seniors Victoria Woods; Mary Jo Bash; Presley Elchert. Juniors Leah Kuhlman; Joanna Worst; Claire Allison.
Outlook: One look at the robust website that Vackert has in place for his volleyball team and one small section stands out.
Carey has never won a league title in the MAL or its former league, the North Central Conference.
In the final iteration of the MAL, Carey hopes to change that this year.
"This year we want to contend and make some noise and make some people play hard to beat us," Vackert said. "I think we have some of the pieces."
He has good reason for optimism since last year the Blue Devils achieved its best record since 2000 and its best league mark since 1997.? "We had some success last year and we got a taste of the district tournament," Vackert said. "They really liked that. We hit a lot of goals last year including our first winning conference record in a while."
Carey lost just one key player from last year, but she was a big one: Hannah Tong. She took her talents to the University of Findlay and leaves behind unfillable shoes in Vackert's mind.
He said Tong may have been best known for her offensive abilities, but it's her blocking the Blue Devils will miss most.
"She was so hard to hit around," he said.
Offensively, Tong racked up more than 1,900 swings in the last two seasons, but Vackert said balance will be the key going forward.
"This is the most depth I've ever had and this is one of the quickest teams I've ever had," Vackert said. "We have a lot of balance on offense. That could be a positive."
Carey returns two All-MAL honorable mention selections in Seifert and Sydney Wentling.?
"Shelby's been on the floor for three years now. She had a disappointing end last year with an injury," Vackert said. "Sydney runs our offense. She's only a sophomore and I expect her to run the show and she does a good job at it."
On the front line to balance out the attack will be Johnson, Makenzie Wentling and Hackworth as well as sophomore Kin, who came on strong in a half season of play. Coming up from JV when Seifert got injured, Kin went on to finish third on the team in kills with 77, including 21 in the team's tourney run.
It's that crew that will embark on trying to end the league drought but Vackert said the road won't be easy.
"It seems like it's the same old suspects. Mohawk and Eric Hoover have a great program. Every year they're right up there. They lost some key players but I expect them to be there. New Riegel only lost one ball player off a team who lost two games all year," Vackert said. "Calvert had some good young players and St. Joe always gave us some problems. The top half is always tough. I've always said in this league, if you don't show up, just about any night you can get beat."
It's that stiff competition Vackert will miss when the league dissolves after the school year and the Blue Devils move on to the Northern 10 with league mates Mohawk and Seneca East.
"It's kind of sad when you think about it. There's going to be some teams we won't see. A lot of those long rivalries are going to end unless we see them in non-league or the tourney," he said. "On the same note, it's kind of exciting to play in a new league. It's bittersweet."
It could be even sweeter though with that first league crown.
"My basic goal every year is a winning season, overall and in conference," Vackert said. "We want to improve upon what we did last year and contend for the league title. I don't care how many wins it takes: eight, nine or 10 wins. I'd also like to see us get a district win. We haven't done that since 2008."