CHATHAM, NJ - In 1912, a passenger on the Titanic was tagged with the nickname "Unsinkable Molly Brown" for her efforts to help evacuate passengers from the infamous sinking ship.
Chatham High's own Molly Brown seems suited to share the nickname since the senior libero on the Lady Cougar girls volleyball team brings an unsinkable spirit to the court.
"I'm very hyper, I'm wired," Brown said. "We're going to be very successful this year. We just have to work on our mentality a little better and not get down on ourselves when someone messes up a play. We just need to shake that one off, get back up on our feet and keep going."
It's hard to miss Brown during game action since she's the one wearing the white libero jersey and diving for a dig without the benefit of any knee pads or protection on any part of her body.
"I just feel like I don't need (the pads) anymore," Brown said. "I definitely dive a lot and I've got some bruises on my knees. I feel the pads slow me down a bit and I can play better without them. You don't really need them in volleyball. They're there just for added protection."
In 2016, Chatham rode a senior-dominated lineup to an impressive 17-8 mark.
"We have big shoes to fill from last year," Chatham coach Anna Amster said. "We had seven people graduate and out of that seven, five were starters. So we have a bunch of good players who finally have an opportunity to step up and they're taking full advantage of it.
"We're just looking forward to a good season. It's a very close-knit group, they're excited and working really hard in practice. The girls are coming together."
The Lady Cougars showed signs of cohesion in a 2-1 scrimmage win against Caldwell on Thursday and are gearing toward the opening of the season on Saturday, Sept. 9 in a tournament at Madison High.
In addition to Brown, the seniors include outside hitter Emily Boyland, setter Alex Shaw and right side hitter Emily Jaime.
Despite the absence of Delfine Greeve, out with a back fracture, the junior class will play a large role in th success of the team this season, with a lineup that includes Sara Szalay (outside hitter), Mary Williams (middle blocker), Katie Hauck (middle blocker, right side), Eliza Kaye (middle blocker), Ashley Petersen (setter) and Michelle Chang (outside hitter).
The sophomores are Laura Macri (outside hitter) and Eesha Nagpal (libero/defensive specialist).
"There were so many seniors last year, it was hard to bond together with all the grade levela," Brown said. "This year, our team is bonding extraordinarily well on and off the court. We didn't play to our full potential (in the Caldwell scrimmage). We're just getting into a groove now."