Should the Holy Family volleyball team choose to look back on their state tournament appearance of 2015, regrets might enter the fray.
Should the Tigers look at the two-year journey that saw an 8-15 team in 2014 all the sudden win 22 matches last year, however, a little more optimism about the potential for 2016 may arise.
Either way, there seems to be a healthy amount of confidence for Holy Family as it defends its Tri-Valley League title this year. The Tigers are confident that they can challenge the best teams in 4A, just as they are convinced that an 0-2 mark at state was the result of difficult circumstances that could afflict any team on any given day.
"Losing (then freshman) Ali (Travis) at state was tough," head coach Krista Solomon said, referring to one of her outside hitter getting sick right before their tournament started. "But I think this year, we are more motivated than ever to get back and do well, and we know getting there last year is going to make teams play up for us this year, but we have a lot to prove to ourselves, too.
"This team, these seniors especially, had that kind of rough year two years ago so they also know what it's like to have that not-so-good chemistry versus what we have today. They're motivated to keep us positive and make us as successful as we can possibly be."
The possibilities are endless, really. The Tigers begin the season ranked eighth in the CHSAAnow.com preseason media poll, with TVL foes Windsor, Berthoud and Mead all on the same plane.
What most of the voters probably are privy to is the HFHS front line, which consists of Travis (outside hitter), Jody Gallagher (middle) and Julia Giltner (middle). It's an athletic line of players who seem to be at a level beyond their years.
Blocking statistics aren't exactly straight-forward in general but Gallagher and Giltner combined on a ton of them, going for about 4.5 denials per match apiece. That appears to be a strength of the team in 2016.
"Julia and I are really great friends on and off the court and we always know what to say to each other to make us play better," said Gallagher. "We are really confident in our front line and we connect with each other really well."
"I don't think we have a weak link out there, and we are all getting the best in when we are on the court," Giltner added. "It takes everything. Jody and I have been working on closing blocks even more, because we want to provide those big blocks."
Travis, always in attack mode as shown by her team-leading 266 kills and 47 service aces, returns more experienced, and seniors Sam Weber and Willow Belenski are the roaming back row specialists that have been wearing the varsity threads for a while — through good and bad.
The Tigers will be testing a new setter in Sara Berghoff — a team veteran who played right side — but all in the name of fitting one of their best pieces into the puzzle. Solomon said the team hit the "transfer jackpot" with the addition of opposite side hitter Rachel Siurek, who comes in from St. James Academy in Kansas.
It doesn't take but a couple clicks on the web to figure out that Siurek, a left-handed hitter, was part of Kansas's state championship team last year and a squad that finished fourth in the final MaxPreps national rankings.
"We lost a couple of really good seniors but I think we have added some great players that will be a great addition to our team," Gallagher said. "Rachel is a great energy player. She's been super loud and supportive, and she's a lot of fun to play with."
"We were disappointed with state because we were expected to do better, and we're preparing more for when we have to deal with changes," Giltner said.