With the bitter taste of disappointment still strong in their mouths, the girls of the Volleyball team are itching for success. Last season, the squad completed its season with a record of 10 wins and 4 losses. To cap off the season, Andover competed in an annual championship tournament hosted by Deerfield. The team lost in the quarterfinals to the number five seed, Choate Rosemary Hall. Two seasons ago, Andover went undefeated with 16 wins. While last season’s first loss to Hotchkiss was a disappointment to some, members of the team took it as motivation to work even harder. Five team members graduated last spring, including Erica Bakies ’08, Cassidy Carpenter ’08, Michelle Hollebeke ’08, Atima Lui ’08 and Lauren Shevlin ’08. The new squad’s roster is not yet finalized, but first cuts have already been made. There are seven returning members to the team. Stephanie Xu ’09 said, “We lost five girls, but we did get some really great new players this year who are definitely going to make an impact on the team. They’re so talented, and I think our team is stronger than last year. What’s just as exciting and important as the talent is that we really click as a team already, and having good team chemistry goes a long way!” Coach Clyfe Beckwith believes that four players will be particularly outstanding on the starting rotation this year. Melissa Yan ’10 will play setter. She will be joined by Captain Isabelle Engelsted ’09 as an opposite hitter, Cristina Mommsen ’09 as an outside hitter and Meghan McCafferty ’10 as a middle hitter. All four of these girls are expected to be key players this season. Coach Beckwith said, “This year’s team is shaping up really well.” He continued, “While it’s too early to know how we will compare to other perennially successful teams, it is safe to say that this year’s squad has the makings equal to the Andover teams of 2003 and 2006 that went on to win championships.” Other players of the returning core are Katy Svec ’10 and Xu, both defensive specialists, and Viola Rothschild ’10 at net. In praise of her teammate and captain, Rothschild commented, “Isabelle is an awesome captain on and off the court. She has helped the new players feel more comfortable, the returners get their footing again, and to really put together a solid volleyball team.” This season’s first official practice took place on Tuesday. Coach Beckwith commented that “after first cuts and the return of new students who had attended orientation sessions, [practice] went better than expected with much enthusiasm and good teamwork.” Engelsted says she is excited for the season to begin: “We’ve had a really great preseason. There is a lot of team chemistry, and we are already starting to have some team bonding going on, which is a great thing.” The team begins its season this Saturday with a tournament held at Andover.