Following a roller-coaster-ride of a 2015 season in which it went 9-10 overall with a first-round exit from the state tournament, the Londonderry High girls’ volleyball squad lost a tremendous amount of talent to graduation.
Hence, coach Dave Starin and his youthful 2016 Lady Lancers will need to take a very measured, one-step-at-a-time approach to their campaign this fall as they look to become a competitive entity in tough Division I.
Starin only has four returning players from a 2015 Londonderry High contingent that went an impressive 7-2 in its first nine matches, and then a disappointing 2-7 in its last nine to wind up 9-9 overall and the number 11 seed going into the Division I tournament. The locals were then bested by the sixth-ranked Bishop Guertin Lady Cardinals of Nashua in round one of that tourney.
Those returnees include starters junior middle hitter Josie Collins and sophomore outside-hitter Maddie Sanborn – who has extremely deep roots at Londonderry High – along with their fellow returnees senior outside-hitter Emily Vrettos and junior setter Ashley Andrews.
Sanborn is the grand-daughter of Larry Martin, who was one of the founders of the boys’ track and field and cross-country programs as well as a math teacher at LHS; the daughter of current Londonderry High track and field assistant coach and math teacher Amy Sanborn, and the daughter of former LHS track and field coach Joe Sanborn.
The Lady Lancer volleyball contingent’s big crew of promising newcomers includes senior defensive specialist Morgan Grant, juniors Meghan Brown (a middle-hitter), Caitin Leach (right side), Carina Pento (OH), and Jenna Peterson (setter), sophomores Gillian Lynch (right side) and Alyssa Pento (libero), and freshman Anna Haas (setter).
When asked to look at his squad’s keys to a successful 2016 campaign, Starin stated, “Being such a young team, we are working on the fundamentals every day. We are placing an emphasis on our serve-receive, service, and reading our opponents. Strides will be made throughout the course of the season, and we will see where our hard work takes us.”
The girls’ volleyball program will go without a freshman team for the first time in a number of years this fall. That decision was made after tryouts had been completed.
And when he takes a look at which teams he thinks will provide the highest levels of competition this fall, Starin lands on the defending state champions from Hollis-Brookline and the same BG Lady Cardinals who ended the 2015 LHS squad’s season.