Last season, the Evanston Township High School girls volleyball team went downstate for the first time in school history, with a record of 31-12. At State, the Wildkits lost to St. Charles East in the Class 4A semifinals. Then in the third-place match, they fell to Mother McAuley to finish fourth.

Just because the Kits went downstate last year does not mean getting there again this season will be easy. “We need to be focused and disciplined. We had a taste of what it is like to be a good team and we seemed to earn a little respect last year,” said head coach Pam MacPherson. “Now we have to show that it wasn’t just a fluke team in 2008, and that the ETHS 2009 volleyball team is even better.” She adds, “We have worked hard to earn respect in the conference, and I want teams to be worried when they have us on their schedule.”

The Kits open the season Aug. 26 at Loyola, and will participate in the New Trier Invite on Sept. 4 and 5. The home opener is Sept. 8 against Deerfield at ETHS’s Beardsley gym.

When asked which teams she is looking forward to playing against, Coach MacPherson replied, “[We] always look forward to playing New Trier. They need to be put in their place.”

Look for the seniors on the team to carry much of the load this season. “We have an outstanding returning senior class with Lesley Shulman, Linnea Lukatch, Traci Spacek and Jackie Schultz,” said Coach MacPherson, adding that “Ali Gossen and Megan McCareins are two of my key returners. They are both in their third year on the varsity team and should be major impact players for us.”

Coach MacPherson said she feels team unity and mental toughness will be a key to the Kit’s success. She said, “We will have to gel as a team in order to do well this year. We lost three of our starters from last year, but we have a good core group returning. Our mental strength will either make or break us this season.”

“You never know what lies ahead of you with the work ethic of the girls and the goal of the team. But if they all stay focused and remain confident, this could potentially be a better team than the 2008 final-four team,” said Coach MacPherson, regarding the team’s chances in the upcoming season.

If all goes according to plan, look for the Kits to be a threat in the Central Suburban League South Conference play, as well as in the playoffs in October.