CEDAR LAKE | Erin Zeller had heard all about Samantha Guglielmo before both coach and player started at Hanover Central.
Zeller, who is in her first year as the Wildcats volleyball coach, knew the best story about the freshman setter.
Before she even stepped foot on the floor, with older classmen abounding in last year's version of the volleyball team, Guglielmo had been invited to play with the varsity during summer workouts.
She was about to be in the eighth grade.
"It was crazy to think as an eighth grader that I'd be able to work with high schoolers," Guglielmo said. "I learned how the speed of the game is much more intense than in middle school."
Knowing that talent was going to hit her floor made entering this season that much easier for Zeller. The Class of 2013 took a lot of talent from a team that won its final season in the Porter County Conference and forced eventual semistate team Andrean to five sets in the sectional final.
The cupboard, it turns out, was not completely bare.
In addition to the youth of Guglielmo, the Wildcats (16-2) have an experienced setter in Savanna Zackman and five seniors that have waited their turn.
While the freshman leads the team in assists and aces, Guglielmo shares setting duties with Zackman.
"Typically when you have a setter like Sam you'd run a 5-1, because she's very strong and has very good hands," Guglielmo said. "Because Savanna is a good leader, we decided to play a 6-2. Sam has good hops and a pretty good swing on the right side, so we like having her over there for offensive purposes on the right side and she can set from the back row."
Quieter than the outspoken Zackman, Guglielmo doesn't hesitate to find her leadership role when she can. She said that volleyball has helped open her up in ways she wouldn't have imagined just two months into her freshman year.
"I didn't think I'd be as vocal as I was," Guglielmo said. "I was always quiet when I was younger, so volleyball gave me a little bit of a voice."
With Guglielmo, Hanover Central has its "quarterback" for the next four years.
"She's young and I'm going to have her for the next four years, and I can't wait to see her grow and develop and refine her skills," Zeller said. "She's already such a strong player, with three more seasons of us and three more seasons of club it's going to be exciting to watch her grow."