The goals are simple and real.
Yes, Mary Hemer wants improvement for Cathedral High School girls volleyball in 2020 – her second season as head coach. And yes, the state tournament is always a program goal.
But Hemer said another goal must come first.
“Our biggest mindset is always, ‘We’re going to fight,’ ” she said. “We’re going to go out there and put our best effort on the floor. We’re going to work as a team and play to everybody’s strengths, and cover each other’s ‘not strengths.’
“That’s the main focus that we have – to just really fight and be aggressive.”
If that happens, Hemer said bigger objectives will follow.
“That’s the only way we can get better, is to try to do those things,” she said. “Then we’ll get closer and closer every time we try. We tell the girls, ‘It’s OK to not be perfect and have things we have to learn.’ We all have that. We need to do things we can control – effort, communication and discipline.”
Hemer said the Irish progressed in that area last season, her first as head coach of the program for which she played from 2005-2008. The Irish went 16-13 in 2019, winning the City Championship and the Sectional 10 Championship before losing to New Castle in the regional tournament.
The Irish lost six seniors from that team, but Hemer said the Irish return six players who form the program’s core moving forward.
“They’ve gotten kind of used to us and what we’re expecting,” Hemer said. “They trust that if I say, ‘I don’t care if you make an error; I need this and this …” that’s what I mean. We definitely want to build on that foundation and trust. That’s the most significant piece.”
Hemer said the 2020 Irish will be led by a three-playing-member senior class that includes:
*Lucia Corsaro, libero. “She’s just grown in confidence, grown in her movement and her level of play – her speed,” Hemer said. “She’s improving every day because she knows and trusts that what we’re telling her will help. That also helps reiterate to the other girls to say, ‘She’s doing what they tell her to and she’s doing awesome,’ so that definitely helps.”…
*Sarah Casper, outside hitter.. "Sarah was a big part of our offense last year and she will drive our offense this year. She is a great all around player - high power on offense and a versatile defender in the back row," Hemer said. "I'm super excited to see the year she has!"
*Mia Finn, a two-sport athlete who is beginning the season playing essentially every position. “She’s honestly THAT athletic,” Hemer said. “She’s consistent, strong and athletic. We can really put her just about anywhere and she’ll be effective and hold down the fort. To have a senior with maturity be able to do that is really awesome. It provides a lot more options for us across the board.”
Hemer said the Irish in the 2020 offseason continued the development that began in 2019, adding that this year’s returners now have a base understanding of the program’s objectives “that has made it so much easier for the program as a whole.”
Hemer said it remains to be seen what that will mean for a 2020 season that began with losses to Mount Vernon and Brownsburg. The first objective, as with all fall sports, is to complete the season after spring high school sports around the country were lost to COVID-19. The objective after that is to improve on what Hemer considered a promising first season.
“There are some matches [last season] that we didn’t win that were close,” Hemer said. “I hate to say, ‘OK to lose,’ but it was understandable. There are some matches that I’d like to win this year that we didn’t last year. We want to push past some of these top teams in the state and move out of regionals.
“That would be huge for us. State’s always on our radar. It’s Cathedral. We always want that; every team does. But really, growth from last year and beating some of these teams we didn’t beat last year would be awesome to see.”
And Hemer said early indications are this 2020 Irish team has the mindset she wants, a mindset she said should give the Irish a chance to accomplish their goals.
“They just fight,” Hemer said. “They’re scrappy. The ball doesn’t die and that’s exactly what we want from them. That’s within their control – their effort. Send the ball over one more time, let the other team make the mistake.
“They buy into that. They’re showing us that day in and day out and it’s awesome.”