They were good, and they were close to being much better.
Cathedral High School girls volleyball also improved dramatically during the 2022 season, which set the stage for future Irish teams. That made ’22 a successful season.
It made it an important one, too.
“We were trying to form a culture of family and being a good teammate to the person next to you,” Karrie Quenichet said following her first season as the Irish’s girls volleyball coach. “I feel like progress was made there and I’m proud of that.”
The Irish in 2022 won their fifth consecutive sectional title, winning the Class 4A Section 10 title with a 3-0 victory – 25-17, 25-16, 25-8 – over Lawrence North. They lost in a regional semifinal to Brownsburg 3-2 – 25-13, 17-25, 25-13, 21-25, 15-10 – at Greenfield-Central.
The Irish finished the 2022 season 23-10 and ranked ninth in the final MaxPreps Class 4A Indiana high school girls volleyball rankings.
“They had a dedication to each other,” Quenichet said. “I feel like they bought in. They really tried their best to strengthen our program from top down, from varsity to freshman. That’s going to pay dividends moving forward.
“We really felt a shift in the culture and the mindset. It didn’t completely end up where we wanted it to in the end, but it definitely made progress.”
The Irish also won the City Tournament, beating Scecina 3-2 in the final.
“We had two things we said over and over,” Quenichet said. “We talked about being humble, being hungry and continuing to do our job for our teammates next to us on the floor. I thought they really bought into that.
“We also talked about making them believe. We had a lot of people who were doubting us and we wanted to get some attention. I do feel like this team got some attention.”
And Quenichet said by season’s end it felt as if the program was moving in a positive direction.
“There always has been a mystique about Cathedral volleyball that I was excited to come be a part of,” she said. “A lot of people started coming back and watching our matches this year that maybe hadn’t the las few years. They said it had that feel again, that it felt like Cathedral volleyball again. I hope that’s the case. I want to honor the legacy that is Cathedral volleyball.
“You don’t always remember what your record was, but you remember how you feel. The wins and losses will take care of themselves once we build that foundation.”
The Irish began building the foundation with strong performances and competitive fight against one of the state’s toughest schedules. Not only was their season-ending loss to Brownsburg a five-set match, the Irish also lost five-set matches to nationally-ranked Louisville Assumption, rival Roncalli and perennial area power Carmel.
Five of their losses were final-set matches and their only five-set shutout losses were to Brebeuf Jesuit and Class 4A state champion Hamilton Southeastern.
“That’s exciting, but also frustrating,” Quenichet said. “This team had a lot of fight in them. We just had a couple of vulnerabilities that sometime were exposed against high-quality teams. I think that says a lot about their personality. I wish as a coach I could have gotten them over the hump.”
Quenichet said the final match against Brownsburg exemplified that fight, with the Irish twice rallying to tie and eventually force a fifth set against a team that beat them in four sets in the regular season.
“I never questioned effort or their fight,” Quenichet said. “The first set wasn’t what we wanted to see. We could have folded at that point. They didn’t do that. I felt fortunate as a coach that they worked for our coaching staff and for each other.”
Key in 2022 was junior Taylor Lewis along with a strong senior class that Quenichet said helped form a foundation for the future. Seniors included: Outside hitter Karsyn Kramer, middle Samantha Hanson, defensive specialist Caiti Barthel,hitter Erin Emmick, defensive specialist Kasey Quenichet, setter/hitter Mallory Dills and hitter Hannah Barbee.
“I feel like what the seniors did in steering the culture has set us up for a lot of success in the future,” Quenichet said.
Quenichet said Kasey Quenichet moved into a libero role, leading the team in aces and teaming with Barthel to be two of the team’s top passers. Lewis, after moving from outside to middle hitter, led the Irish in kills and was named to the Indiana High School Volleyball Coaches Association All-North District team.
Lewis, junior setter Kamryn Utley and sophomore Josie Myers – all All-City selections – all return for the Irish in 2023 along with junior defensive specialist Addison Bakemeyer, freshman middle blocker Avery Lewis, sophomore outside hitter Kate Kubacki, junior opposite Aniyah Neal, junior defensive specialist Rian Cunningham and junior outside hitter Jordan Peter.
“That’s definitely a foundation to build on,” Quenichet said. “I’m really excited. I think it’s only going to get better from here. I don’t feel like we’re going to be rebuilding by any means. I feel like we’re going to be reloading instead.”