Last year, Ashley Lund's Jamestown Community College women's volleyball team was lacking.
Lacking in size, lacking in numbers and, by extension, options out on the court; lacking in just about every area save one - talent.
Yet with only eight players - that number would soon sink to seven and later, incredibly, just six - Lund nevertheless guided that Jayhawks squad, whose tallest player was 5-foot-9, to one of the best seasons in school history. Not only did they capture an NJCAA Region 3 Division III title for the first time in six years, but they also took fourth at the National Tournament and compiled a 34-12 record overall.
Sophomore Christina Rauh was a first-team all-conference selection on the Jamestown Community College volleyball team last season.
P-J?photo by Lisa Monacelli
Afterwards, Lund remarked that she hoped the impressive results would pay dividends in future years.
"I really hope it does wonders for the program," she said after the finish at the nationals, which was tied for the best ever in JCC volleyball history.
Early indications suggest it did.
Yes, while Lund's group lacked in 2012, the cup runneth over in all areas in 2013.
"It's a whole different ballgame," Lund said Thursday evening.
With, by her standards at least, a whopping 11 players on the roster this season, and with three of those players at least 6-feet tall, Lund is blessed with more options than she's used to this time around - not that she's complaining.
"Last year it was easy in that we only had six players, so there were no substitutions," she said, "but now I've got to think more about who is playing where.
"I like having the options. Any coach who doesn't is a fool. Things can go wrong, and with numbers (it's easier) to solve them. So it's great to have all of them and we're happy that there's interest and that girls want to play."
Among the most crucial to the now-expanded, and talented, group are the lone returnees - Christina Rauh, a sophomore out of Panama who last year earned an NJCAA Regional 3 Division III first-team all-star selection and was also named a Division III player of the week, and Arrica Lis, a Fredonia High School graduate who commands a blistering outside shot.
"They're going to be huge this year," Lund said of the pair's importance. "They have to be the leaders. They know the level that's needed to be played at to be successful. They've been trying to portray that to the freshmen coming in and they've been pushing that on them."
Rauh, a do-everything setter, racked up a 341 kills and averaged nearly 6 aces per set last season. Her kills total was second only to Lis, who delivered a team-leading 391.
"(Arrica) is a phenomenal hitter," Lund said. "She can hit corners and angles that you don't think are possible."
Joining Lis on the outside are a number of newcomers with similar talents, including Mandy Finch of Randolph and Shannon Gunnell of Falconer, among others.
That trio of outside hitters, combined with the height of 6-foot freshmen Michelle Bach (Cattaraugus-Little Valley) and Kayleann Chase (Randolph) in the middle, and Lund expects the front line to be formidable.
"I'm just really excited about the potential," she said. "It's not often that you get outstanding outside hitters and three 6 footers that can play and are agile. It's different having big girls at the net, and that should make us a strong (team)."
That contention will be put to the test for the first time on Aug. 22 when the Jayhawks welcome Pitt-Bradford for a preseason scrimmage. The real matches start soon thereafter with the Butler County CC Tournament (Aug. 24) and the Alfred State Tournament (Aug. 31).
Jamestown doesn't play its first home contest until Sept. 5 against Mercyhurst-North East. By then, Lund, who has 101 career victories, will have an idea about whether this year's group has a chance at matching last year's successes.
"I have faith in the ability of the girls," she said. "You never know and never can tell, but you hope for the best. We'll just start from the beginning."
Aug. 24 - at Butler CCC Tournament, 9 a.m.
Aug. 31 - at Alfred State Tournament, 9 a.m.
Sept. 5 - Mercyhurst College-North East, 6 p.m.
Sept. 10 - at Niagara CCC, 6 p.m.
Sept. 14 - POD C vs. D at Niagara CCC, 9 a.m.
Sept. 17 - at Genesee CC, 6 p.m.
Sept. 21 - POD D vs. F at Hudson Valley, 9 a.m.
Sept. 28 - POD D vs. E, at Finger Lakes, TBA
Oct. 3 - at Erie CC, 6 p.m.
Oct. 5 - POD A vs. D at TC3, 10 a.m.
Oct. 8 - Monroe CC, 6 p.m.
Oct. 17 - Genesee CC, 6 p.m.
Oct. 19 - POD B vs. D at JCC, 9 a.m.
Oct. 23 - Butler CC, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 - WNYAC Tournament at JCC, 10 a.m.
Oct. 29 - Sub-Regional, TBA
Nov. 2-3 - Regionals, at Niagara CCC
Nov. 15-16 - Nationals, at Rochester, Minn.
Michelle BachCattaraugus-Little ValleyFresh.MH
Kaitlyn NyeCattaraugus-Little ValleyFresh.S
Nadine SansoneSyracuse City Fresh.MH
Taylor SatalinoMaple GroveFresh.DS