NIAGARA — The Niagara volleyball team had a solid season last year but is looking to improve on a season that ended with an 8-8 record for the Badgers. 

“We ended last season with an 8-8 record in the conference which was good for fourth place and we’re looking to improve on that record this year,” Niagara coach Carol St. Arnauld said. 

Niagara lost five players from last year’s team in Addelynn Amundsen, Abby McCarthy, Sydney Weber, Allison Wells and Maddie West. McCarthy earned second team all-conference last season.  

The Badgers have some returning talent from last years squad with senior Annalise Colenso, juniors Jasmine Racine, Cassie Gill, Jessica Oratch and Isabel Wells and sophomores Faith Borchardt and Alyssa Cretton. 

Senior Riley Beaster, juniors Bailey Broullire, Jayden Payette, Elsa Champeau, Olivia Brasure and Sydney Dunkes and sophomores Julia Brown and Jadah McCarthy round out the team.

“We are going to begin our first week of play missing some key players and the plan right now is to experiment as there are some great athletes to put into the mix,” St. Arnauld said. “Once both of my middle hitters are back and we work out some of the kinks, I see this team being extremely competitive.

“With only one senior returning, we have a young team but we have been improving week to week and a lot of that has to do with how the girls have been pushing each other. There is a great work ethic with this group and I’m looking forward to seeing this group evolve into something special.”

Communication and handling mistakes will be something the young Badgers squad needs to work on, but the coach is looking forward to getting on the court and seeing how the girls respond.

“Being a young team, we are going to make mistakes,” said the coach. “How we respond to those mistakes will be a key factor for us.”

Some keys to success will be passing and setting because the team is loaded with talented hitters.

“How well we pass and set will be two of our main keys to success this year because we have the hitters, we just need to get them the ball in the right spots,” St. Arnauld said.

Assisting St. Arnauld with coaching this season is Christie Borchardt, Nicole Anderson and Maryellen Wagener.

Niagara opens its season today at the Crivitz Invitational starting at 9 a.m.