MOUNT WASHINGTON - Of all the shuffling and realignment that the Bullitt County programs will go through this year, no team was put in a more precarious position than the Bullitt East volleyball squad.
Instead of battling North Bullitt, Bullitt Central and Spencer County six times in the regular season and then in the district tournament, the Lady Chargers not must battle Mercy, Fern Creek, Whitefield Academy and Jeffersontown in the new 24th District. Forget that the red and gold lost to both Fern Creek and Whitefield Academy last season (they did defeat Jeffersontown), but there is that elephant in the room now in Mercy, the state champion in 2008 and 2009 and then runner-up in 2010.
Just getting to the district final will be a great accomplishment for this Bullitt East squad which is coming off a 9-20 season a year ago, the second for head coach Ed Fisher.
Fisher does have an older and more experienced squad than either of his first two teams.
"One thing I like about this team is that we have four seniors and we've never had more than one in the years I've been here," the coach said before a match last Thursday against Whitefield. "I'm happy with more leadership than we've had in the past."
Fisher doesn't pull any punches when looking at the new district.
"In the new district everybody is playing for second," the coach admitted. "Reality is reality. You might get them once in a season, but not twice."
The one positive for Bullitt East, as happened in girls' basketball last season when that sport moved to the new district a year earlier, is that if you do get to the district final against the Jaguars, then you cannot face Mercy in the regional tournament until the championship game.
Bullitt East has not played in a regional final in almost 20 years.
Fisher plans to dress ten players for the varsity matches at least early in the season.
"I've been using around eight at this point," the coach said. "That includes the libero. With the youth in the past I've had to use ten. Now with the seniors I'm looking more at eight in the rotation."
Returning as the setter for this year's team is senior Ashley Quaack and she will be backed-up by Becca Rich, a junior.
Two other returning starters will be the outside hitters. Senior Hannah Fisher, the coaches' daughter, will man one of the spots while sophomore Jennifer Cischke will be on the other side.
The Lady Chargers don't have a lot of height at this stage, but the middle blocking will be handled by junior Shelby Graham or senior Landon Page. Graham started last season.
One new player to the squad this season is junior Morgan Lucas who transferred from Jeffersontown. She will work as the team's libero. Two other players who will see action as defensive specialist will be senior Megan Guillaume and junior MacKenzie Purdue.
Another new player to the program who will see some playing time is eighth-grader Sydney Riley who attends Eastside Middle School.
The Lady Chargers have no varsity players over 5-9 at this point. The program does have a pair of freshman who are both 6-feet or taller, but are relatively inexperienced. Fisher says the two are on the 'fast track' and he hopes that they could be ready to play for the varsity by the end of the season.
The team's goals have changed to some degree with realignment.
"Getting to the regional would be the new goal," Fisher admitted. "We want to have a 20-win season. Those are my goals. The girls' (goals) were all team-oriented. They wanted to play as a team and keep each other up and make it to the regional."
The new 24th District will be seeded, but based on only one game between each of the schools. Bullitt East will face Mercy on Aug. 28 on the road.
The Lady Chargers will continue to play both North Bullitt and Bullitt Central on a home-and-home basis. That includes a home match against Bullitt Central on Tuesday of this week.
First Week Split
The first week of the regular season for Bullitt East offered mixed results.
Last Tuesday, the red and gold beat Bardstown in the new best-of-five format in straight games. Bullitt East rolled 25-17 and 25-20 in the first two games, but then fell behind 17-7 in the third game before rallying for a 25-23 win.
The result was not as positive on Thursday as the Lady Chargers dropped a district meeting with Whitefield Academy in three games. The final count was 25-13, 25-20 and 25-15.