Kuncher's rock has been Assaley.
"She is one of a kind,'' said the Irish coach. "She really is the vocal leader. She's great with the younger girls, making sure they're in position and making sure everybody's doing their job. We really couldn't afford to lose her.''
The Civic Center Showcase has been even more valuable to the Irish (21-4-2) this time around.
"We try to do this tournament every year to get the experience at the Civic Center,'' said Kuncher. "Under these lights, on the sport court with the pressure in the big arena ... no matter who you play it's a good experience. We play three freshmen. I expected a lot of nerves out of them, but they've stepped up and done well. This is huge for them to see what it's like at this level.''
Catholic uncharacteristically fell in last season's state quarterfinals, but Kuncher said the team has another run to the Civic Center left in them.
"I do just because we play such great defense,'' she said. "We don't have a whole lot of offense and power, but I don't think our defense could get much better. Our libero, junior Hannah Gallian, is a phenomenal defender. She's everywhere and she's a leader on the floor. I think she can carry us pretty far.''
And another reason for optimism is Assaley, who is intent on wringing every bit of effort from her teammates and herself.
"It's weird being a senior,'' she said. "It's weird to think this is the last year I'll be going to practice or a game at night. I'm trying to take it all in and be appreciative of everything everyone has given me the last four years. Just being the best senior I can be.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.