by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
The Hudson volleyball team made a major breakthrough when it upset an area powerhouse to earn a share of a division title last year.
The Lady Explorer players and coaches certainly will cherish that title as long as they live.
Third-year Hudson head coach Jessica Ciborek is no exception.
She just hope it never happens again.
"We definitely don't plan on sharing it this year," Ciborek said.
Pardon Ciborek, who has guided the Lady Explorers to a 29-19 record during her two years as head coach, for being a bit selfish.
For a number of years, Hudson was Stow-Munroe Falls' annoying little sister when it came to winning division titles.
In 2012, the Lady Explorers surprised their big sister when they handed Stow its first Northeast Ohio Conference Lake Division loss in school history.
As a result, the two teams shared the Lake Division title with identical 9-1 records.
Unfortunately for Hudson, the big sister got the last laugh.
Stow posted a 25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 25-15 victory over Hudson in a Division I district semifinal contest. Once again, Ciborek would prefer such an outcome never happens again.
"One of our team goals is to make it to the district finals," she said. "Stow has beaten us in the district semifinals the last two years. We definitely want to go a step further."
For now, Ciborek will try to mix and match her talented pieces. After all, you can't win a district title or a division title in August.
"We just need to take one step at a time until we can focus on the real season, which is the postseason," Ciborek said.
Ciborek has plenty of reasons to be excited. But some familiar big names won't be part of the equation any more.
The Lady Explorers lost four seniors to graduation.
They are outside hitters Amanda Bedell, who is planning to continue her academic and volleyball careers at the University of Akron, and Sarah Faust, who plans to play at Wittenberg University (Springfield); and Allison Zullo; libero Katie Frank and setter Erin Dunlap.
Fortunately, junior Jordan Mackay, a three-year starter and the team's leader in a number of statistical categories last year, is back.
The 5-foot-11 standout middle hitter was the team's Most Valuable Player in 2012.
"Jordan is going to do great things in the middle," Ciborek said.
"She is a great all-around player. She's going to spend a lot of time in the back row too."
Ciborek said Mackay plans on playing on the collegiate level.
Also returning is 6-foot-3 senior middle blocker Krissy Mummey, who plans to continue her academic and volleyball careers at the College of Charleston (S.C.).
"Krissy has elevated her level of experience during the offseason," Ciborek said.
Senior Celia Cristofoli, who also plans to play on the collegiate level, returns as the team's starting outside hitter.
"Celia has developed into one of our strongest all-around players," Ciborek said. "She has great court awareness and is a great leader. Celia, Krissy and Jordan will be our leaders on the court."
The other senior is Georgia Lindner, a right-side hitter. Junior Alyssa Disandis is expected to be the team's starting setter.
"We're looking for Alyssa to do great things," Ciborek said.
The back row will be led by junior defensive players/liberos and Sarah Young and Gina Holland.
Allison Rense (5-10) also is expected to play on the right side.
"Allison is a very diverse player," Ciborek said.
The sophomore class includes 5-11 Olivia Baumhoer, who is listed as a right-side hitter. But she is expected to be everywhere in the front row.
"Olivia can help us out in all three positions," Ciborek said.
Other sophomores include twins Madison Przybocki and Amanda Przybocki.
"Both of them will help us in the setting role and possibly in a defensive role in the back row," Ciborek said.
Rounding out the squad are sophomore outside hitter Lindsay Schlabach and 6-foot Alena Madar, who Ciborek said can help out in all three front-row positions.
"Alena is a very diverse player," Ciborek said.
Ciborek's varsity assistant is Annie Pinegar. The junior varsity head coach is Anne Boswell. The freshmen will be led by first-year coach Lauren Corsillo.
The Lady Explorers have plenty of height on their roster. That's a good thing.
"All five of our tall girls can play all three positions in the front row," Ciborek said. "They give us options to work with. At any given point, we can switch things up."
Despite the loss of seniors, Hudson won't be lacking experience.
"I think we can surprise a lot of people," Ciborek said. "Every girl that came back played J.O. [Junior Olympics]. They upped their level of competitiveness."
Ciborek plans to use a 6-2 formation early in the season, but the team could switch to a 5-1 formation.
"We're well-rounded and diverse," she said. "They can do so many things."
The rest of the teams in the Lake Division are Mayfield, Cuyahoga Falls, Twinsburg and Mentor.
The Lady Explorers are scheduled to make their 2013 debut at Mayfield Aug. 23 at 7 p.m.