The Prince of Peace volleyball team was loaded with experience the last couple of years. This season, that’s changed.
After graduating four of their starting lineup last season, the Irish are back with a young lineup and an inexperienced one. It leaves very little returning experience in the lineup, and a large amount of that comes from senior Lilly Isenhour.
Isenhour has been a starter for Prince of Peace since the time she entered high school, remaining a stat leader in multiple categories year after year. This year, she had to take on a role she wasn’t necessarily used to with the group she had in the class ahead of her: leadership.
“I always tried to be a leader,” Isenhour said. “But this year, with all the seniors gone, I haven’t had an option. That’s good for me. I try to stay positive and talk to my teammates. You can tell when they’re struggling and you know that, we just always have to pick each other up.”
The Irish lost two Tri-Rivers East Conference games this year (Lisbon, Easton Valley) and currently sit at 10-18 on the year. It’s definitely a different feel from the last two seasons, both of which featured 20+ wins from the Irish, but it’s a not a bad look for a complete roster overhaul.
Isenhour leads them in multiple categories. She’s the kill leader with 181 kills so far this season and also leads in blocking with 38 from her position at middle hitter.
Her strengths don’t just come at the net. Isenhour also has 213 digs on the season, a team-high and nearly over 70 more digs than any other Irish player.
She’s also a 96 percent server, with the second most attempts on the team.
“She just doesn’t give up, she doesn’t give attitude when things start to go bad,” Irish head coach Stacie Kenneavy said. “She asks, what am I doing wrong instead of not turning to us. She’s always asking to improve and that’s what we want all our players to do.”
Her volleyball skill and knowledge is more than apparent in her statistics and her play. She’s also used her positivity to help lead the inexperienced team. Shannon Kenneavy and Sarah Moeller played significant minutes for the Irish last season but beyond that the faces look more and more unfamiliar.
That positivity has been imperative as they work their way through the learning curve.
“Lilly never gets too down,” Kenneavy said. “I would like her to be a little more vocal but she’s definitely improved in her role from the beginning of the season.”
Isenhour has taken charge of the rotations. Because she plays all around, she’s constantly able to give direction and encouragement throughout games.
“She’s done a great job because she’s one of the only ones with varsity experience,” teammate Shannon Kenneavy said. “She’s done a great job of keeping our intensity up and helping us in practice and she knows a lot about these teams.”
That’s not something that came easily necessarily. Although she hosts a bubbly personality, Isenhour has been able to focus on her game the last four years because of the upperclassmen ahead of her.
Now she’s putting her stats up and helping the lineup perform to their potential from top to bottom
“It’s definitely been weird,” Isenhour said. “It’s been very different and hard at times. I know that this team is good and I think that at the beginning of the year we kind of doubted ourselves. We are good, we know we can be, we just have to play like that.”
The Irish wrapped up their regular season with a home win over Cedar Valley Christian on Tuesday night. They now wait for the postseason, which begins in two weeks.