Simone Assaley has experienced it all during her four years at Charleston Catholic.
She has helped the Fighting Irish climb the ladder of success, eventually reaching the pinnacle in winning back-to-back Class A state championships in 2009-10. This season, though, may be the senior's biggest test.
Catholic learned Tuesday that it will be without one of its top players, Catherine Bandak, who received a preliminary report that she tore her anterior cruciate ligament and will be out six-to-nine months after surgery and rehabilitation. On top of that, the Irish start three freshmen so they will need every ounce from Assaley, who seems more than up to the task.
The Irish began to put the pieces back together Wednesday evening, defeating Class AA Clay County (25-5, 26-24) and Nitro (25-18, 25-9) during the Civic Center Volleyball Showcase.
"We're picking ourselves up and we're all playing to the best of our abilities,'' said Assaley, who earned all-state honorable mention after last season. "We have a lot of young players that have improved tremendously. It's kind of amazing.
"Whenever the young players get down on themselves, I try to do the best to tell them what they did wrong and bring them back up to their confidence level. It's a lot to live up to. We definitely want to win another championship. We want the younger girls to experience how it feels.''
Bandak, an all-state basketball player, sat on the bench in street clothes Wednesday watching her teammates. An MRI scheduled later this week will be more definitive on her knee injury and the course of action.
"She went down in our first match of a tournament Saturday,'' said Catholic second-year coach Lindsay Kuncher. "We didn't think it was going to be that bad. Just at the thought of losing her ... she is our offense and she is our leader.
"We rallied and won a few matches that day. The team is starting to rise to the occasion. We're playing in new positions, but we're starting to feel a little more comfortable. We have our ups and downs, but we'll get there. We just need some experience for these players in new positions.''