The Solanco volleyball team has spent the two previous seasons setting a foundation.
Now it's time to see what the Mules can construct.
"We're still in the building process but I have set the bar pretty high because we have tons of talent," Solanco coach Meghan Cross said. "It's a motivated group who wants to play. They've been working well together. We still have a young team. I look forward to the next couple of years. This team will continue to grow in their confidence and their volleyball."
Senior Nathaly Molinarez will help lead the Mules. Molinarez, who played the off-side last season, has moved to the power hitter position.
"Nathaly is the kind of player who will play wherever I need her to play," Cross said. "She's quick and can pass and serve."
Sophomore Madi Davis returns as the starting setter.
"We need Madi to take charge," said Cross. She sets the pace of the game."
Junior middle blocker Emma Canale will be a key cog. "She can read the ball and put up good blocks," said Cross. "She can also put the ball down on the other side of the court."
Solanco will also rely on defensive specialist Alondra Quinonez and junior libero Maggie Perry
"Alondra is our go-to passer," said Cross. "Maggie is my designated passer for my two middles. She has to take charge in the back row and I have confidence in her."
Senior Jada Dow has moved from the middle to off-side hitter.
The Mules start the regular season Tuesday, September 3 at Manheim Central. The first home match is Thursday night, September 5 vs. Elizabethtown at 7.
Solanco girls soccer preview
The Solanco girls soccer team has lofty goals and the talent and ambition needed to achieve them.
The Mules aspire to post the best record in school history and make both the league and district playoffs.
"We have clearly established those goals," Solanco coach Ken Yoder said.
The Mules are coming off a program-best 7-10-1 mark last fall.
"We lost a lot of close games last year, 1-0 and 2-1" Yoder said. "I think we're poised to turn them into wins. That's what is going to put us over the top. Top to bottom, this is the best team we've had for sure."
The Mules return eight starters and have added several promising underclassmen.
Four-year starters Gabi Dolan and Alana Yoder lead the way.
Dolan is a two-time section all-star goalie. "It all starts with Gabi," Ken Yoder said. "We're looking for her to have a big season. She's a big part of the team and a team leader."
Solanco is switching from a sweeper-stopper defensive alignment to the currently customary flat back four.
"We're going to have freshmen and sophomores in the back and they are up to the task," said Yoder. Sophomores Rilyn Sauer, Hannah Wood, and Maya Dolan and freshman Arianna Sieberlich will anchor the defense in front of Dolan.
Yoder is moving up from defender to center midfielder. Despite playing a predominantly defensive role last year, Yoder paced the Mules in scoring with nine goals and eight assists. "This is the first time we're using her outside of a defensive role," the coach said. "That will free her up to attack even more."
A three-time section All-Star, Yoder was selected to the Lancaster-Lebanon League's Top XI last year, the first time a Solanco player earned that honor. "That's a huge accomplishment for her and the team in general," Ken Yoder said.
Junior Kayden Bedwell, who scored six goals as the center midfielder last season, moves up top. "This allows her to play her natural striker position," Ken Yoder said. "We're expecting big things. She's a real key for us."
Sammi Jackson and Graci Unger (nine goals last year) will both be key cogs in the offense. "We're hoping with the formation and position changes, we're on attack more," said Yoder. "We want to be the team attacking and putting pressure on the other team, and Sammi and Graci will be a big part of that."
Solanco starts the season Friday, August 30 at McCaskey at 10 a.m. and then travels to Kennard-Dale the following morning.
After a road game against Lampeter-Strasburg on Tuesday night, September 3, the Mules play first home game Thursday, September 5 vs. Penn Manor.
Solanco boys soccer preview
Solanco's boys soccer team fully expects to be more competitive this season.
The Mules have finished 1-14 the last three seasons with the only wins coming against Lebanon.
"We've been close a few times," Solanco coach Jamie Snyder said. "We've been playing better than in years past. We're going in the right direction. We're getting there."
The Mules have eight returning starters and 15 seniors on the roster.
Sean Salisbury and Caden Kilgore will anchor the midfield. Solanco is also relying heavily on strikers Luke Snyder and Wilbur Olivares, who combined to score four goals in a scrimmage.
Logan Peace and Ben Brandenberger will split time in goal.
Solanco boats an experienced defense with seniors Tyler Sadler, Nic Cozzone, and Ben Zook and junior Colin Moran.
"We want to continue to build the program," Jamie Snyder said. "We will be more competitive on the field. We're going to move the ball better and hopefully tally a few more wins."
The coach acknowledges competing for a section title is a herculean task, but the Mules could be a spoiler. "We can definitely ruin a couple teams' afternoon," said Snyder. "I wouldn't mind doing that to start. We have the talent."
The Mules begin the season Friday, August 30 at Kennard-Dale. The Mules host Lampeter-Strasburg Tuesday, September 3 at 4 p.m.
Solanco cross country preview
Solanco cross country coach Craig Ausel says his runners are demonstrating the dedication and diligence necessary for the team to achieve its goals of success on the course and in the classroom.
"We are very excited to start the 2019 season," said Ausel. "The largest majority of our squad had a good summer of training and logged solid miles. We are once again looking forward to growing and learning on and off the race course this season. Each year we have running goals, school academic goals and team learning goals. Since our Camp Runalot sessions in July we have been working very hard on the development of our team learning goals. In July, we started our study and focus on the “Habits of Highly Successful People”. Our major focus, so far, has been the first three habits: Be Proactive, Begin With The End In Mind, and Put First Things First. Our team has done a great job so far embracing these habits in their summer preparation for both school and the athletic field."
The squad will be led by team captains Tate Fisher, Brandon Daniel, and Evan Hastings. "Tate has completed his very best summer ever logging solid miles and we look forward to him making great improvement in his racing performance," Ausel said.
Nathan Eller, Mason Sinclair, and newcomers Joey Hartigan and Anthony Solis-Morales have shown outstanding improvement in pre-season workouts, the coach said. "If this group and returners Avery Jacobsen and Sean Keller can help these runners pack up in the 17-18 minute range we could be a solid squad," Ausel said. "We do compete in the very strong Lancaster-Lebanon Section 1 division. We anticipate having to work very hard and get the very most from our abilities to come out of this section with a 500 or better record."
The girls team is hoping to overcome a lack of depth. "The ladies numbers continue to be low," said Ausel. "We have eight very dedicated ladies who have had a very solid summer of training. We will not lack for a fighting spirit. With only eight ladies, we have very little room for bad races if we wish to be competitive in L-L Section 1.”
Chesley Ledesma will return as a senior co-captain along with junior Elaina Kreider. Rounding out the squad are senior Evelyn Billings, sophomores Halle Brown and Nicole Dodson, and freshmen Emma Baxter, Daria Neaves, Sella Woy.
Solanco will participate in the Big Bear Invitational at Lock Haven University on August 31.
The Mules start the league season with a home meet Tuesday, September 3, at 5:15 p.m. and are also home on October 1.
"We hope to have lots of Solanco cross country fans come out and watch our team compete," Ausel said.
Solanco field hockey preview
Solanco field hockey coach Whitney Hawkins has high hopes.
The Mules were 3-14-1 last season. Hawkins thinks the Mules can double last year's win total. "Our goals are to win at least six games, qualify for districts, and have a higher gpa than the 3.73 we had last year."
Hawkins says Solanco will have more offensive firepower.
"We lost a lot of games by one or two goals last year," the coach said. "The offense is going to be better. They know what they need to do now and they have to go out and execute."
The Mules are counting on senior Keirra Laird, a section all-star last season, and juniors Maggie Hirst and Mariah Stoltzfus.
"They are all super competitive," Hawkins said. "We're expecting big numbers. They are doing better going into the circle and getting a shot off."
Returner Mylee Smith will help anchor the midfield. Solanco will get a big boost from two dynamic freshmen – Addie Scott and Kate Underwood. "They are super fast and super athletic," Hawkins said of the newcomers.
The Mules boast an experienced defense led by honorable mention section all-star Emma Curtis.
"I'm excited to see what she will do this year," Hawkins said.
The coach is also relying on returners Kayla McCauley and Kaley Wilson.
Kimmy Beacham, who played JV last year and saw some time on the varsity, will be the starting goalie.
"I expect her to do well if she can stay injury-free," Hawkins said.
The Mules open the season Friday, August 30 when they host Kennard-Dale at 4 p.m.