Tigers set their eyes on district title, return to regional final


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The Holy Trinity Tigers have won six consecutive district titles and have been to three straight regional finals. They have nine players back from last year's team.

CARL KOTALA

When you return nine players — including the program’s all-time leading assist leader — from a team that went to its third consecutive regional final last season, the idea of getting back there for a fourth consecutive year doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

“We’re young, but we have a lot of dedication,” senior setter Emily Noe said. “Most of us know the way it goes on varsity, and we all know each other pretty well. Our one new person (Sophia Panarese), we’ve played with her before so we have a really good connection.

“I think it’s going to work out well for us.”

Noe, who became Holy Trinity’s all-time assist leader last season, will be looking to add to her career total of 2,137, but the Tigers’ offense figures to look different in several different ways.

With all-time kills leader Laura Boos having graduated, Holy Trinity not only lost its main offensive weapon, but also a good deal of height.

Junior Mackenzie Sands and senior Shelby Seage are the tallest players on this year’s team at 5-foot-11, which means the Tigers are not only going to have to distribute the ball more, but it also makes ball control and offensive tempo that much more important.

“I think you’re going to see a lot more distributed offense,” Holy Trinity coach Pete Klonowski said. “Last year, we had a player we depended on quite a bit. This year, I think you’re going to see the numbers spread out, so the kills will be more evenly distributed.

“We’ve got people that are capable at all the positions. One of the wrinkles we’re looking at is having Emily Noe attack when she’s in the front row and run a second setter. We haven’t done that in the three years she’s been here.”

In addition to Noe, Sands and Seage, the other returners for Holy Trinity this year are Carmen Zipf; Olivia Yochim; Kayla Burge; Taylor Mullen; Cassie Martin and Layla Matthews.

The players' familiarity with each other should be an advantage.

“I think that’s one of the most important strengths,” Noe said. “We all communicate well together since we’ve all played together. We have really good chemistry.”

While getting back to the regional final — and beyond — is one of the goals for the Tigers this season, so is winning a seventh consecutive district championship.

If Holy Trinity can control the ball on first contact and get into its offense quickly, the Tigers could once again be looking at a deep postseason run.

“I think the girls are excited,” Klonowski said. “I’m excited to get back into it. I’m looking forward to it. I think we’re going to be able to accomplish some really good things this year.”