Karrie Quenichet likes what she sees so far.
That’s not just true on the court for 2022 Cathedral High School volleyball. It has been true in all areas of the program early in Quenichet’s first season as head coach.
This is a new regime, a new era. And the transition has been smooth.
“I’m very excited at the prospect of working with these girls,” Quenichet said in late August. “They have a lot of talent. I think this season they’re going to surprise some people. They’ve already done that to some extent. They’re motivated.
“It’s a great situation when you’ve got kids who are as motivated as these guys are.”
The Irish, long one of Indiana’s top volleyball programs – and the sectional champions the past four seasons – started the 2022 season a strong 7-3. They went 4-0 at Crown Point in a tournament to start the season, later pushing nationally-ranked Louisville (Ky.) Assumption to five sets in a narrow loss.
The start came against a difficult schedule, as is the norm at Cathedral.
“There are no easy nights, so you are constantly seeing what a good team can expose with you,” Quenichet said. “Then you go back and work on it. These girls don’t tire of that process. They’re very eager to figure out what they need to do.
“These seniors, they feel like they have something to prove. They feel like they’ve left a little bit out there. They don’t want to leave anything on the floor when the season’s done.”
The ’22 Irish indeed are an experienced team led by a strong group of seven seniors, with junior middle hitter Taylor Lewis emerging as a team leader with her athleticism.
“She can hit over a block, she can hit around a block, she can block,” Quenichet said of Lewis, the Irish’s early-season leader in kills and hitting percentage. “That has been great but we’re really trying to get all of our hitters involved as the season goes on. If she’s our only offense, that doesn’t bode well.”
Key Irish seniors include:
*Karsyn Kramer, outside hitter; Hannah Barbee, middle hitter; Erin Emmick, outside hitter; Mallory Dills, setter/opposite; Kasey Quenichet, defensive specialist; Caiti Barthel, hitter/defensive specialist; and Sam Hanson, opposite/middle.
Kramer – who hits opposite Taylor on the outside – was second on the team in kills through 10 matches, followed by Dills. Emmick also has been key outside.
“At the better programs, the better talent is working to bring everybody up with them,” Quenichet said. “That’s how these guys are. Your talent is pushing all the girls to be their best. That comes through. It’s a culture you try to foster. When your leaders are making sure you’re doing all the little things, those are the things that get you over the edge in those tight matches.
“You like seeing that from Day 1 because you know you’ve got something to work with.”
Quenichet said sophomore Josie Myers and freshman Avery Lewis also are key in the middle, with all three of the team’s middles – Myers, Lewis and Barbee – featuring “different strengths.” Lewis was second on the team in hit percentage through 10 matches with Myers third in kills.
“That has been a rotation that has been different every match depending on who we’re playing,” Quenichet said.
Also key for the Irish his season: junior transfer/setter Kamryn Utley and junior setter Rian Cunningham, as well as junior setter Addison Bakemeyer. Dills has played both setter and opposite hitter, with Cunningham playing well as the Irish played through injuries at setter in late August.
“It’s just another example of me asking them to be flexible and be up for whatever the situation calls for,” Quenichet said of the trio.
Quenichet said that approach of working and adjusting to new situations has been the norm early in the season, with players adapting to a new coach with a new approach.
“We’ve changed a lot of things,” she said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a lot of lineup changes, but it’s a lot of mid-match and mindset adjustments and they’re getting better at it because we’re practicing it.”
Quenichet said the buy-in and work ethic of players has made the transition successful, and has her feeling good about the short- and long-term future of a program that long has been one of the state’s best.
“We feel good about the direction and that’s mostly because of the kinds of kids these girls are,” she said. “I like how they’re coming together as a team. That’s going to make any coach happy and feel good about the what the future is going to bring.
“Every day is going to be a work in progress, but these guys are willing to put in that work. The sky’s the limit.”