CARROLL –There is a sense of urgency for the Bloom-Carroll volleyball team, especially for the seniors.
The Bulldogs reached the final four in 2012 and were expected to make another trip in 2013, but the season ended in stunning fashion when they lost in a Division II district final.
It will be the final go-around for senior Taylor Hughes — who will play at Ohio State in 2015 — the unquestionable and talented leader for Bloom-Carroll.
“Our expectations are to get back to the final four but throughout the season, we need to take one goal at a time like winning the league, district, regional,” Hughes said. “We are just focusing on one thing at a time. There is definitely a sense of urgency for the seniors.
“I know for me personally, I want to play as hard as possible for my team. We didn’t like the way things ended last year.”
The ultra-athletic Hughes recorded 333 kills, 415 assists and 110 total blocks in 2013. She earned first-team All-Ohio honors and has helped lead the Bulldogs to a 47-6 overall record the last two seasons.
The Bulldogs also have gone three consecutive seasons without a loss in the Mid-State League-Buckeye Division.
To make sure Bloom-Carroll is prepared for the season, head coach April Redding has the Bulldogs playing a brutal scrimmage schedule.
In just the past week, Bloom-Carroll scrimmaged three final four teams and played 38 sets in six days.
“We had a tough week by playing these strong teams,” Redding said. “We are doing everything we can to prepare them. We have beaten some of the best teams in Ohio in the last week.
“We are thrilled how the girls have responded in the preseason. We chose to take that first week of practice and hammer them. We just want to work out the kinks while we are playing, push them and see how far they can go.”
Redding knows the Bulldogs have one of the elite players in the state in Hughes, but she also knows there needs to be a balance and the rest of the team needs to step up as well.
Three other seniors — Morgan Sells, Samantha Hurdzan and Koryne Vanscoy — will be called upon to help lead as well.
Junior Ellie Fratto and sophomore Autumn Ruble also return to the mix. Sophomores Madison Compton and Payton Swartz should get playing time, as well as freshman Alayna Ireland and Haley Volmer.
“We are focused on being more balanced,” Redding said. “We didn’t have Taylor most of the summer because she was playing in elite tournaments, which is great. However, we played great as a team during that time.
“I think the balance is when she comes back, sometimes everyone steps back and watches Taylor go and sometimes Taylor wants to do so much for her team and the girls let her. But we need everyone to play their roles as an individual to complete the team, and that’s what we are focusing on.”