HAMMOND | The graduation of seven seniors from the Bishop Noll volleyball team was the first sign of a rebuilding year.
A front row that coach Dave Rodriguez calls "athletic, smart and bruising" is keeping the Warriors moving forward.
Noll juniors Carissa Jones and Asya Hobbs, plus sophomore Carley Cappello, who leads the team in kills, combine to create a hitting corps that has already surprised a few opponents.
The Warriors (13-6) beat Hobart in the Chesterton Tournament in the same week they took a first game from Whiting before losing in four.
"This was our remodeling year," Cappello said. "We started out, we weren't sure what positions everyone was playing and what we'd be doing."
"We're starting to build our confidence knowing we can do what we set out to do," Jones said.
Jones and Cappello are a pair of outside hitters who can play all around and have helped jump-start the Warriors offense. Hobbs' athleticism makes her a tough jump to find a seam around, Rodriguez said.
"Not that they're all not smart and athletic, but when you take them individually Asya is clearly the athletic hitter, Carly is clearly the smart hitter and CJ is the bruising hitter," Rodriguez said. "It's very hard to block all of them. Carly will find a way around you, Asya will go over the top of you and CJ will hit right through you, you can't block them the same way."
The Warriors like the way the three create a defense; when they win a coin toss, they avoid the serve. With Jones and Hobbs starting in the front and Cappello in the back row, they've found their trick to opening a game with a quick point.
"At the beginning of our season, we decided that we wanted our team to go far," Jones said. "Working as a team will get you there; working as an individual won't. "
With three hitters, none completely dominates any statistical category, and the Warriors say that's fine with them. Moving the ball around gives them more options opponents have to try to defend.
"It's not about individual, at the end of the day, your team is the one that puts out the win," Hobbs said. "If someone is double-blocking me and Carly is solo blocked, of course you want your setter to go to Carly."
All three are club players, Hobbs and Cappello with Altitude and Jones with Diamond Elite. That they'll all be around at least another year gives Rodriguez even more hope for the future.
"The great thing about all three of them is that they're really interested in working to keep learning," Rodriguez said. "They're never satisfied. They're all askingm 'What can I do here; what's open?' They're trying to do what they can to continue to be successful."