TOLEDO — Cumberland will carry youth into their season opener at Charleston tonight.
Out of the total 13 players on the varsity roster, 10 are underclassmen, with five freshmen and sophomores each.
"Every practice, I see improvement," said Cumberland's first-year coach Sarah Foley. "We have a small number of girls. We are young, but I feel they are good group of freshman and sophomores. They will step up along with my juniors and seniors."
Shoes will need to be filled in the loss of three seniors that led Cumberland to an 18-13 overall record last season.
Cumberland lost two-time first team Little Illini Conference hitter Kassidy Hunt, two time all-LIC Kamisha Holsapple and Olivia Titus, who earned honorable mention.
The lone senior returning from last season is libero, Jordan Plummer.
"Jordan is an excellent team leader," said Foley. "She's not that tall, but she plays like a six-footer. She's positive and sets a great example with her work ethic."
Also returning are juniors, Kaylee Carlen, and Shaina Oakley. Both saw significant playing timelast year.
Starting setter could be a mix between sophomore Mattison Green or freshman Lainey Jackson. The front row will see a mix of players, including Jenna McMechan, Kiersten Ault, Maekayla Sowers, Anna Jana Esser and Skylar Brumleve.
"I think we are going to have a strong defense," said Foley. "We don't have a lot of height on this team, but we work hard on defense.â€
Hitters for the team include A'Lyssa Martin, Zoe Marti and Jade Hutchcraft, who are all freshman.
"We just need to play together as a group and stay positive," said Foley. "It's easy to get yourselves down. The upperclassman have lead as an example for the underclassman."
This is Foley's first year as head coach, taking over for Talia Moore. Three years ago, Foley coached at the junior high level at Tri-County.