playoffs last season for the first time in 12 years.
All four teams also have something else in common: they return
talented players who should make in impact in league play.
Here is a look at how the season is shaping up:
With its new gym completed earlier in the year, the Pioneers will
get their first chance to play in the school's state-of-the-art gym
at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in a scrimmage against Burbank.
"We are excited about this season," Coach Andrew Bencze said. "We
get to play in our new gym and we have a good group of players who
should carry is."
Bencze and the Pioneers would like to put the 2001 season behind
them -- far behind them. Providence had an 11-7 record and was 9-5 in
the Liberty League, ending the season in a four-way tie for second
"That is the first time one of my girls' volleyball teams has had
five losses in league," Bencze said.
Lost to graduation is first-team all-league standout Allie Malloy.
However, the Pioneers have six returnees from last year's talent
However, one of the Pioneers' biggest question marks is senior
Stephanie Hansen. Hansen suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear
during the girls' basketball season. She is still hobbled and her
recovery is coming along slowly.
"Stephanie is our best player when she's healthy," Bencze said.
"But we want to make sure she takes it slowly and she comes back when
Taking up the slack will be a pair of senior captains, Michelle
Pantaleo and Natalie Guzman.
Although Pantaleo -- a 6-foot middle blocker -- suffers from a
recurring back problem, Bencze said she has showed a tremendous
amount of dedication and is determined to play through her
discomfort. Guzman will handle the setting duties.
The team should also benefit from the talents of senior outside
hitter Shannon Hayes, whom Bencze calls "the best passer on the
Rounding out the returning seniors are Cindy Campos and Ashley
Juniors Bencze expects to contribute are outside hitter Christine
Miller, another returning varsity player, and 6-4 Megan Campbell.
"I like our team," Bencze said. "We are still learning and getting