It'll be a new-look New Canaan volleyball team that takes the court during the squad's season-opening contest against Fairfield Warde on Thursday, Sept. 12.

The Rams, which went 8-10 and made it to the first round of the Class LL state tournament a year ago, return just a quartet of players to this year's squad (senior captain Joanna Baran, junior captain Gracie Castle, junior Pari Koochek and senior Amelia Schwartz).

"We have a lot of potential. We had our first scrimmage and we didn't win it but we won two games and we're improving every day. Over the course of the season, I think we'll get better," said Baran, a center outside hitter and the team's lone returning starter. "We have aggressiveness, we're willing to go for the ball, we're never letting it drop and we have willingness to play."

"We're very new, and everyday we're improving by one percent, so that's good. I think the team has the potential to improve a lot this year," said Castle, a center libero. "A strength would be that everyone is coachable and is able to learn a lot. We're working on passing and everything. Everyone's very versatile and can move around and play different positions."

Ninth-year coach Katie Campbell indicated that she's got a nice mix of classes on her team, from freshmen all the way up to seniors, leading her to believe that the Rams are in pretty good shape for both short and long-term competitiveness.

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"We have a wonderful group of girls from freshmen all up to seniors. A lot of great athletes, great attitudes coming in every day willing to work and learn," said Campbell, who had 40 students try out, including 20 freshmen. "We have a pretty young varsity team, which is great. It's a wonderful opportunity to get everybody out there learning stuff. They're already working as a great unit, and the older players are certainly acting as wonderful mentors to our younger players."

Although they finished just below the .500 mark in 2012, the Rams are just two years removed from a 14-4 campaign, so New Canaan is certainly no stranger to volleyball success.

"My personal goal is to see movement forward with the girls, their skills, their teamwork and the program in terms of the way that we run it, the cohesiveness of it," Campbell said. "We see a very young, but athletic and willing group of girls."

In total, New Canaan lost 10 of last year's 14 varsity players, leaving the door wide open for competition for playing time and starting spots.

"This year the court is wide open, and the girls know that. It's creating healthy competition and a learning curve," Campbell said. "Though they're all at different grade levels, they're certainly progressing and learning."

Both captains indicated that they're looking forward to squaring off against a variety of their FCIAC counterparts.

"Obviously, we're looking forward to Darien," Castle said. "Also, Greenwich as well as Warde and Ludlowe."