Evanston starts putting pieces togetherEvanston's Casey Durham (10) spikes the ball between two Oak Park defenders. | Kevin Tanaka~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2011 1:28PM
Now that volleyball’s club season is complete, Pam McPherson finally gets a chance to take an up-close look at her team for the upcoming season.
Evanston was scheduled to start play in a July league at Aurora’s Sports Performance on Tuesday. The Wildkits are the only CSL team competing.
“I don’t like playing local in the summer,” said McPherson, who has won three regional titles in a row and placed fourth place at the state tournament in 2008. “We will be playing against some of the top western suburban teams.”
The Wildkits will welcome back several players who contributed to last year’s 24-14 record, including senior Casey Durham and junior Caroline Duke. Durham, a 6-foot-3 hitter, will play next year at Pitt. Both girls participate in club ball at Sports Performance.
But Durham and Duke have lots of help around them.
“This year we have a very strong, solid top eight,” McPherson said. “It always helps when you’re not relying on one or two people. We have solid contributors all the way around.”
After training as setter with her club squad, Duke will set for Evanston this fall when the season begins. She was a hitter for the Wildkits as a sophomore, while Lauren Teske did the setting.
“She’s looking good at her new position,” the coach said.
McPherson expects Durham, a three-year starter, to play right-side hitter this year in order to take advantage of her team’s strong cast of offensive players. Seniors Martha Murray and Terese Swords also are veteran hitters.
Other players coming back with experience include seniors Charlotte Runzel and senior Blair Frett, and juniors Jackie Gibbons and Emma Lehman. Runzel is the team’s top leader, and McPherson sees her as a defensive player and backup setter.
Meanwhile, Lehman is among a group competing for the libero position vacated by Delaney Clesen.
“We have a lot of people that will be trying out at that spot,” McPherson said. “It’s going to be great for us. In our best seasons, we’ve always had good balance. In volleyball, you can’t have any weak links. We have a lot of depth this year.”