LAKE GEORGE - Fulfilling their slogan "We Believe," the 2008 Lake George Central Volleyball team racked up league, sectional and regional championships and ended up in the State Championship Final Four.
Their campaign reflected a tradition of exceptional volleyball at Lake George High School that's reigned for more than a quarter century.
During the past 19 years, the team has won the Section II championship 16 consecutive years. And the few years the team didn't win, they were a top contender.
The Warrior teams have fought all the way to the state tournament 12 times since 1990 alone, and won the title in 2001.
Considering the 2008 team's achievements and the Warrior volleyball tradition, the 2009 squad has a formidable standard to work toward.
This week, the 2009 players were executing drills, whether it was jumping sideways through hurdles, dancing frenetically in rhythm sideways over cones, or jumping double-time onto bleacher steps while mimicking a blocking move.
Watching the action, Coach Cathy Stanilka said her team would be determining their own goals for the year. She handed out a sheet to each player last week, asking them to share their thoughts and objectives.
"I never had a team that wanted a 500 season," Stanilka quipped.
She said the 2009 players were taking their practice routines seriously, and were focused on the challenges ahead.
"We're very optimistic, with a lot of good new young kids stepping up and filling the shoes of the 2008 players," Stanilka said. "We've got strong potential, and we're all excited to get started."
Returning from the group that went to the state Final Four are Seniors Sara Anderson, Chelsea Scott, Tess Bannon, Julia Hall and Rachel Pliscofsky.
Anderson is the experienced middle hitter, and Scott runs the center. Bannon is the defensive specialist, Hall is a skilled outside hitter, and Pliscofsky is an accomplished right hitter, Stanilka said.
Juniors Katy Munzenmaier and Erin Blunt will likely assist outside, with Kelly Flaherty in the middle, Stanilka said, mentioning a few who are expected to be key in the season's campaign.
"I think we'll be fine," Stanilka said.