by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
They raised the bar to uncharted levels in 2013.
Now the Lady Explorers are hoping to maintain their status as a state power.
"This is definitely a new year," Hudson fourth-year head coach Jessica Ciborek (50-26) said. "We want to build on our success."
The Lady Explorers finished 21-7, which included their first trip to the state semifinals in school history.
Hudson lost a 25-10, 25-16, 18-25, 25-13 decision to eventual state champion Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame.
The Lady Explorers also shared the Northeast Ohio Conference Lake Division title with Mentor.
Both teams finished 9-1 in the Lake Division, which also features Stow-Munroe Falls, Mayfield and Twinsburg.
Hudson has some familiar faces back from a year ago. There also will be some new faces in the lineup.
The Lady Explorers lost three key players to graduation. Two of them are continuing their careers on the collegiate level.
All-Ohio middle hitter Krissy Mummey is now playing for the College of Charleston (S.C.) and outside hitter Celia Cristofoli is playing at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.
Also graduating last spring was right-side hitter Georgia Lindner.
As of press time, Hudson has been dealing with some injuries.
"There's nothing horrible," Ciborek said. "They should be ready for the season."
One of those players who is currently battling some nagging injuries is senior 5-foot-11 middle hitter Jordan Mackay, a four-year starter and a team captain.
"Jordan is one of the hardest working kids I've ever coached," Ciborek said. "She is definitely the workhorse of the team."
Senior setter Alyssa Disandis is Hudson's other team captain.
"She has improved a ton from JO [Junior Olympic] season," Ciborek said. "I'm expecting big things from her."
Senior Allison Rense, a 6-foot outside hitter, is expected to be a bigger presence in the front row.
"Allison's blocking form is way better than last year," Ciborek said. "She can play any front-row position."
The other two returning seniors are Sarah Young and Gina Holland, who are competing for the starting libero position.
Ciborek said both players have been "coming on strong" in practice thus far.
The returning juniors are starting setter Amanda Przybocki, her twin sister Maddie Przybocki, a libero, outside hitter Lindsay Schlabach and right-side hitter Olivia Baumhoer.
"Olivia can do things on the outside, middle and right side for our team," Ciborek said. "Maddie has been dealing with a foot injury."
Other juniors are 5-11 front-row player Julia Wright and defensive specialist Rachel Becka.
"Julia can play any position in the front row," Ciborek said.
"Rachel is a strong defensive player."
The team's tallest player, 6-1 Alaina Madar, also is known for her versatility.
"Alaina looks great," Ciborek said. "She can play all three positions in the front row. She plays like a veteran. She takes charge as a leader."
Ciborek's varsity assistant is Annie Pinegar. Terry Spilker, who helped with Ciborek's Junior Olympic team, the Cleveland Volleyball Club, is the junior varsity head coach.
Spilker is a graduate of Trinity High School in Garfield Heights. The freshmen head coach is Lauren Corsillo.
Ciborek doesn't want her team to forget their hard hats and lunchpails whenever they head to the gym.
"Our goal is to outwork the other team," she said. "It's not going to come easy. We're a strong team, but we're not good enough to play at 50 percent and still win. Our goal is to peak at the right time and continue to build."
The Lady Explorers are scheduled to make their season debut at Walsh Jesuit Aug. 23 in a quad meet that also features Wadsworth and Brecksville-Broadview Heights.
Play is set to begin at 9 a.m.