Girls volleyball: Versatility will be key for Tarcha, Carmel Catholic
Eileen Tarcha was naturally curious about high school volleyball four years ago.
"Going into high school, I wasn't really sure what to expect in regards to volleyball," said Tarcha, a Lake Villa resident. "But after that first year, I couldn't have wanted anything more. Being able to play with girls that were all older than me was an experience I wouldn't trade for anything."
Tarcha will be a four-year varsity starter for Carmel Catholic this season and is encouraged by her team's prospects. The Corsairs won 22 matches last season and return five starters.
"Eileen has taken on a different role for us," coach David Pazely said. "She started out as a DS/libero her freshman year, and that's where she plays during club season.
"She took the role as outside hitter for Carmel, and she has been instrumental to our success," Pazely continued. "She's not your typical power hitter, but she has excellent ball control and knows how to place her shots to keep the defense guessing."
Tarcha has plenty of company on this Carmel team. Kill-leader Annie Bart, a 5-foot-11 junior, returns. Another junior, Riley Clark, stands 6-1. Setter Kaitlyn Donton (5-11) returns for her senior year after leading the team in assists last season. Tayah Farris and Mya Mainzer are 5-10 senior middles. Mainzer led the Corsairs in blocking.
The libero job belongs to 5-4 sophomore Milana Moisio. She paced the club in digs and serve-receive a season ago.
Team captain Tarcha is 5-9 and led her team in serving aces.
"I'm super excited about this season," Tarcha said. "We have a lot of the same starters as we did last year, so with more practice and experience, I think we really have a chance to compete for something big this year."
Carmel knows it's never easy playing in the competitive East Suburban Catholic Conference.
"This ESCC is loaded with talent every year," Pazely said. "Marist is back-to-back state champs. Benet competes with them every year in (Class) 4A."
Other schools to win state titles in the ESCC include Marian Catholic, Marian Central and Joliet Catholic. Carmel competes in 3A volleyball.
Tarcha is a big fan of her school.
"My favorite part of Carmel is the people," Tarcha said. "I couldn't imagine going anywhere else and finding people similar to me."
Pazely is looking forward to this season.
"We likely have to go through current state champ Sterling if we make it to state," Pazely said. "I believe this group will have the experience, skill and determination to hang with any team we face this season.
"The potential of this team is very exciting," the coach added. "I believe the leadership and team chemistry will be a deciding factor to our season's success."
The senior Tarcha will have to carry some of the load this fall.
"Eileen is a very skilled player," Pazely said. "But what sets her apart is intelligence and competitiveness. No one wants to win more than Eileen."
Lake County players to watch: Antioch -- Hannah Benes (So.), Maiah Moll (Jr.), Ayanna Tommy (Sr.); Carmel -- Annie Bart (Jr. OH), Riley Clark (Sr. MB/OH), Kaitlyn Donton (Sr. S), Tayah Farris (Sr. MH), Mya Mainzer (Sr. MH), Milana Moisio (So L), Eileen Tarcha (Sr. OH); Grayslake North -- Lexie Baker (Sr. L), Alyssa Gerzel (Jr. OH), Jessica Pozezinski (Jr. OH), Emmy Bongiovanni (Jr. MH), Abby Cunningham (Sr. S), Lindsey Diep (Sr. S); Lakes -- Devinn Bell (Jr. S), Kelli Rettig (Sr. OH), Ashley Smith (Sr. OH); Libertyville -- Kelli Hopper (Jr. OH), Cassidy Jones (Sr. MB), Peyton O'Brien (Jr. S), Ella Schaffnit (Jr. OH); Mundelein -- Faith Krabbe (Sr. S), Brianna Martin (Jr. MB), Alexis Naddy (Sr. OH); Stevenson -- Molly Bourbon (Sr. DS), Lily Cozzi (Sr. OH), Abby Keevins (Sr. L), Grace Tully (Sr. S), Makayla Uremovich (Jr. RS); Warren -- Ellie Columbus (Jr. DS), Alayna Malec (Jr. MH); Wauconda -- Nicole Callahan (Sr. OH), Riley Aldrich (Sr. OPP/S), Savannah Johnson (Sr. S/OPP)