Meghan Skelton's seventh season as Fairfield Ludlowe girls volleyball coach will be her biggest team to date.

Skelton maxed out her roster with 15 players, many of whom are tall and tough around the net.

"This might be the tallest team I've ever had," Skelton said.

Despite losing two first-team All-FCIAC performers, Kelly Rotondo and Emily Nelson, Skelton has been pleasantly surprised by what she's seen from this year's team already.

"It's really going well," Skelton said. "I'm continuously amazed. We have so much talent again. We're so lucky to have girls working hard in the offseason."

The Falcons had arguably their most successful season in 2013, claiming a share of the FCIAC championship and going 22-2. However, the way Ludlowe's season ended -- with a stunning loss to eventual Class LL runnerup Cheshire in the state semis -- is fueling its 2013 campaign.

"It's more of a positive feeling they have," Skelton said. "They know nothing will be handed to them and that they keep needing to work harder."

Despite graduating Nelson, Rotondo and Jaime Quinn -- all of whom were multi-year standouts -- Ludlowe still returns four captains. Casey Boatwright was a dominant middle hitter in 2012, and Corinne Lang shifted from outside hitter to libero a year ago, and that shift altered Ludlowe's year entirely.

Pauline Blatt will add size, as will fellow captain Lauren Schreiber.

Skelton feels strongly about two juniors as well -- Keki Cardenas and Olivia Auray. "They'll be big-time competitors for our team for the next few years," she said.

Though former players have noticed a kinder and softer Skelton during this year's preseason, the normally no-nonsense coach hasn't softened entirely.

"I'm going to wait to raise expectations," she said. "I'll slowly but surely increase the workload and the expectations."

And those goals have not changed from any previous year.

"We're going to be a competitor in the FCIAC and state," Skelton said. "The talent level is there, it just depends on how quickly the chemistry grows."