At the start of her 2010 season, Loch Raven head coach Kim Stewart had 13 players on her girls’ volleyball roster.  But now, nearing the end of October, she can count the number of her Raiders on two hands.

“We started with 13 and it has made its way to nine with injuries and other things,” Stewart explained, “so they have had to make a lot of adjustments working through adversity and some changes that they weren’t expecting.  They have done an amazing job with what has happened.

The nine remaining Raiders are standing strong on the court, and, with a 12-2 regular season record, are preparing for what they hope to be a promising post-season.

“We are having a really great season despite some of the losses we have had,” Stewart said.  “We are 12-2, and I can’t complain.  We had a great preseason, the girls are working hard and learning how to playing well together.

Led by captains junior Devin Herlihy and seniors Shannon Standiford and Lisa Anderson, the Raiders don’t see the limited roster as a negative thing, but say it has helped the team see its success.

“I think it makes us closer by having less people,” Standiford said.  “It almost makes it better because everyone gets to play and everyone knows they are important,” Anderson added.

But the Raiders were thrown another curveball in mid October, when star hitter Caroline Stanka injured her knee warming up for Loch Raven’s game with Lansdowne.

The injury could have derailed the Raiders, but the team rallied together and won its next three games.

“Our Lansdowne game was when our middle hitter went down,” Herlihy explained.  “I think we did really well in that first game, and it went to five, but it was tough to comeback from the shock and having to completely make a new rotation and pull ourselves together.”  

Having just nine players changes every facet of a sports team, from the everyday practice to the gameday substitutions, and the Raiders have learned to deal with

“It helps us in practice a lot of the time because they are at practice like it is a game,” Stewart said.  “They get a lot of repetition, and they get a lot of drill play over and over again, but there are times where you want to section off and do separate drills and that makes it difficult.”

captains“We are definitely better than we were last year, but in different ways,” Herlihy said.  “Last year we had a lot of height and a few more girls that played club, so maybe fundamentals are down, but this year we have a lot more companionship and motivation on the court.”

In their dozen wins, the Raiders have surpassed the 11 wins they recorded in 2009, and will undoubtedly again have a seat in the 1A-North regional tournament.

“We are optimistic about it,” Stewart described the post-season outlook.  “Last year we got a tough draw with Catoctin, who was a state championship team, but this year we are looking to be raked first or second.

“I have six graduating seniors, so we are looking to do whatever we can to reach our goals and focus each game on what we want to do.”

The Raiders will try and finish the regular season 13-2 when they host Pikesville, Tuesday, before taking to the 1A North Regional Playoffs.