SOMERS, N.Y. – Injuries were a theme for Kim Kelly and the Somers volleyball team in 2018 but Kelly is optimistic heading into the new campaign with four starters returning.

“By midseason, we had just 50 percent of our starting lineup healthy,” said Kelly, whose team was 10-8 last year and fell to Tappan Zee in the first round of sectionals. “Our goals this season are to train, elevate our skills and maintain not only our starting lineup, but develop our back-up positions to be able to step in and be effective early in the year.”

Senior Pooja Rao is one of the Tuskers’ top attackers in the front row.

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“We will rely heavily on her experience and ability to put the ball away,” Kelly said. “She also has a strong serve that we will look to for effectiveness in putting the opposing team out of system and prevent them from running their strongest attackers on the ball.”

Julia Vitale, a senior, will be the Tuskers’ primary setter.

“While we are young in the position, we expect to have Julia training our sophomore secondary setter, Nikki Fasone,” Kelly said. “Julia is setting the ball very nicely and we are looking forward to her contribution this season as a senior and leader on the court.”

Joining Rao in the front row will be senior Jen Acocella, junior Delaney Killeen and senior Ashli Ginquitti.

“Each of these girls has developed their hitting nicely in the off-season,” Kelly noted. “Combine that with our sophomores, Megan Spencer and Julianna Bockhaus, who share the same versatility on the front row, and we gain some of the depth we have lacked in year’s past.”

A pair of seniors, Sabrina Somoza and Rebecca Menna, will share time at libero.

“They are quick to the ball and have a fantastic court awareness in the back row,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be exciting to watch them defend the court.”

Somers begins its season when it travels to Croton-Harmon for a 4:30 p.m. game on Friday, Aug. 30.

“We have a strong returning core,” Kelly said. “And while we are looking to capitalize on their experience and familiarity with playing alongside one another, we expect our underclassmen and new additions to the roster will play an important role without delay this year.”