Time and time again, Cambrian volleyball coach Dale Beausoleil has proven that he needs only core talent and potential to put together teams that somehow defy the odds. It looks like that is the challenge he will face once again in 2016-2017.
Thankfully, there is an initial starting point, as middles Kailey Bastien (5th year) and Jill Vallier (3rd), along with powers Hayley Chisholm (4th) and Amanda Kring (3rd) provide the multi-time winner of OCAA “Coach of the Year” honours with a foundation that can be built around.
Interestingly enough, all four are rooted in Sudbury, with both Bastien and Kring graduates of Confederation Secondary, while Vallier and Chisholm donned the uniform of the Lasalle Lancers.
“Amanda and Hayley are the two starting left-sides, and they are progressing well,” said Beausoleil. “Jill worked so hard over the summer – her and Kailey are lighting it up.” In fact, the graduation of middle Sara Charlton has certainly opened up a previous logjam in the position, as the young tandem takes advantage of additional opportunities.
“With Sara here last year, one of those two were always the seventh player,” said Beausoleil. “I feel that both of them are now rising to the occasion.” While veteran leadership will be key for the Cambrian crew, the reality is that the starting lineup will be sprinkled with newcomers to the program this year, as rookies take up nine of the 15 roster spots on the Golden Shield women’s team.
Most critical among those is the insertion of Kendra Muffo as setter. Yet another graduate of Lasalle Secondary, Muffo was equally as well known during her high school career for her talents on the basketball court, gradually drifting her way over to the volleyball side.
In fact, even at the U18 level with the Northern Chill Volleyball Club, Muffo was still attacking at the net, manning the left side with regularity. There is, however, a glowing endorsement from a man who knows a thing or two about volleyball, as the Cambrian freshman makes the move to setter.
“Her speed is unbelievable,” said Beausoleil. “She’s the fastest setter I’ve had in a while. I love Kendra’s work ethic, her determination, her drive. I think that she’s going to be really good.” And so the work begins, as Muffo is joined by fellow rookie Stephanie Kring, tackling what is likely the toughest role on the court.
“On a daily basis, there’s about an hour put in with Kendra and Stephanie, just working skills, skills, skills,” stated Beausoleil. “And then trying to look at matchups, why you set here, those things. Strategic comes after skill, but it’s just as important, and just as much time will be spent on it.”
Likely to join Muffo as a starter in her first year at Cambrian is 6’2” Sudbury native Emily Clark of Lasalle. Manon Duhaime (Notre-Dame) and Kathryn Webb (Lo-Ellen) are battling it out at libero, while Haley Conroy brings the athleticism that allowed her to shine as a member of the Lo-Ellen Park Knights track & field team over to a previously more secondary pursuit of volleyball.
“After that, it’s a team that is pretty raw, with talent, and the learning is happening on a daily basis, and fast,” said Beausoleil. “It’s group that wants to work hard and wants to learn, a fantastic group of players to coach. I’m excited to coach them.”
That alone, bodes well, for a team that is likely to fight, once again, for one of the final few playoff spots up for grabs in a very tough OCAA West Division. “The last two years, we’ve gotten in with our last games, and I think it’s going to be that type of battle again this year,” said Beausoleil. “Obviously, our goal is to make provincials.”
Rounding out the 2016-2017 roster are Jessica Bonnis, Victoria Mancini, Latoni Figueroa, Samantha Stewart and Kayla Wandziak, while Cambrian alumni Jonathan Hoadley and Stephen Brown step in as assistant coaches, following the departure of long-time Beausoleil sidekick, Michael Margarit.