Riverside returns six starters from last year’s team that finished 22-5 overall and won Western Reserve Conference and district titles.
The Beavers, who have won four of the last five Euclid District titles and have played in five straight district championship games, have five seniors and five juniors expected to make an impact this fall.
“With only a few new players to our varsity team, we have the potential to make it just as far, and hopefully farther, than last season,” Riverside coach Ali Vires said. “As a stronger, more experienced team this year, I look forward to seeing the team finish more matches in three sets and push to achieve their goals.”
Riverside cruised to a 10-0 record in the WRC and then beat Madison, North and Mentor in the district tournament. The Beavers dropped a three-set match to Solon in the Hudson Regional semifinals.
With experience and talent on their side, the Beavers are hoping to take another step in the postseason.
“We will need to work together as a team and be mentally tough as we work to develop a slightly different offense than last year,” Vires said. “A challenge we face will be adapting to changes in our offense. Overcoming them will take a lot of practice and determination, and a strong defense to go with the offense.”
Senior libero Taylor Reigle and junior middle blocker Jennifer Sivak are cornerstones of the Riverside program.
Reigle recorded 367 digs on the way to being named All-WRC and the team’s Defensive Player of the Year. Siva hammered home 286 kills and also recorded 99 blocks on the way to earning all-conference honors as well as the team’s MVP and Offensive Player of the Year award.
“Taylor will be key in running our defense for the third season. Her experience will guide the back row players,” Vires said. “Jen’s dominance on the court and her positive leadership for our team make her invaluable.”
Junior outside/right-side hitter Avery Tracz and junior middle blocker/outside hitter Kate Tracz both earned honorable mention All-WRC honors last fall. Avery Tracz recorded 159 kills, 50 service aces, and 293 digs while Kate Tracz posted 221 kills and 36 blocks.
“Avery is a solid all-around player that can handle most any position. Her versatility and quiet confidence make her an asset in all areas for our team,” Vires said. “Kate contributes to the team through aggressive play in the front row and being vocal on the court. Being back in the middle position this year will make her even more dominant than last season.”
Senior middle blocker Cassie Jordan, senior middle hitter Olivia Bell and junior setter Maddie Herman round out the projected starting lineup.
Jordan recorded 142 kills and 46 blocks. Herman finished the season with 314 assists and 115 digs and Bell added 105 kills and 32 blocks.
“Cassie’s confidence at the net will carry her this season. With aggressive attacking and strong front row defense, she will be a force to be reckoned with this year,” Vires said. “Maddie is returning for her third season as a varsity setter. Her experience and confidence on the court will be crucial in running our offense with some new changes this year. Olivia returns to varsity in a new role, as an outside hitter. Her improved vertical and continually growing confidence will make her a threat in the front row this season.
Seniors Lauren Hunt and Lauren Bush and junior Brooke Schiele also are expected to contribute for the Beavers this season.
Hunt, a defensive specialist, recorded 37 digs. Shiele, an outside hitter, finished the year with 26 kills and Bush, a defensive specialist, is solid on the back row.
“(Hunt) is one of the most positive and support teammates I have coached. Her positive attitude and her hustle in the back row will be contributing factors to our success this season,” Vires said. “Brooke dressed and played some with varsity last year and this year is ready to contribute to the team in both the front and back row. She’s quick and strong, making her valuable on both offense and defense. (Bush) always gives 100-percent and won’t back down from a challenge, making her an asset in the back row this year as a first-year varsity player.”