December 14, 2010
Eagles, Lions out to dethrone Rockets
It will be a new-look DeRuyter Central squad that goes after its seventh Central Counties League championship in eight seasons this winter, with only six of the 13 players coming in with varsity experience.
McGraw and Cincinnatus, meanwhile, will try to improve on their results from last year, when the Eagles were third in the five-team league and the Red Lions tied for fourth.
Coach: Gary Burdick
The Rockets lost two-time league all-stars Weslee Eckler (An All-Section 3 setter) and Samantha Moade (middle hitter) from last year’s squad, which went 7-1 in league play and finished 9-7 overall, making it to the sectional Class D quarterfinals.
Heading up the returnees are a pair of 2009-10 all-stars, senior middle hitter Amber Slocum and senior outside hitter Bridget Way, plus a pair of honorable mentions from a year ago in senior outside hitter Danielle Cuddeback and senior setter Kayla Hampton. Also back are senior right side hitter Catherine Becker and senior middle hitter Emily Sinesi. Slocum and Hampton are this year’s co-captains.
“Amber is a hard hitter, a good server, and a good passer,” Burdick said. “Bridget has a very good hit on the outside, and passes and serves very well. Danielle has good ball placement and is developing into a good passer, while Kayla is very scrappy, quick to the ball and has a hard serve.
“Catherine was on our left side last year as an outside hitter, is a good passer and is working hard to fit into the right side and coming along very well. Emily is very consistent and an accurate hitter.”
New to the varsity level this season are senior outside hitter Clara Tosi and juniors Taylor Campbell (outside hitter), Kelsey Dunagan (middle/outside hitter), Kelly Eaton (right side hitter), Shannon Eckler (setter, Weslee’s sister), Danielle Hare (outside/middle hitter) and Danielle Wood (middle hitter).
“Clara, who’s in her first year of organized volleyball, hits well on the outside,’ Burdick said. “Taylor is quick and is a good passer and server, while Kelsey’s hitting is consistent and she is also a good passer. Kelly is a good passer and server, Shannon is working into our system very well, Danielle Hare is a good server and passer and Danielle Wood is developing a strong hit and is a good server.”
In looking ahead to the upcoming season, Burdick said that “We have an experienced core group coming back. As always, working together as a team is very crictical. How well they gel as a team and how well the veterans and newcomers continue to progress with their skills will determine what kind of season we will have. Our goals as a team are winning the league and finishing the season strong, with a good run in (Class D) sectionals.”
Coach: Jake Bluhm
Bluhm, also an assistant coach with the SUNY Cortland women’s team, takes over a squad that went 4-4 in the league and 5-11 overall last season, making it to the sectional Class D quarterfinals after a year’s hiatus, but lost all of its standout performers, including all-stars Kristen Guy (setter) and Nicole Law (outside hitter) and honorable mentions Kierra Mack (libero) and Courtney Tillotson (outside hitter).
Returnees from 2009-10 are seniors Alyssa Petrella (middle hitter) and Courtney Coombs-Bell (outside hitter) and juniors Allyson Augur (right side), Hannah Canale (outside hitter) and Kaitelyn Leonard (middle hitter).
New to the varsity level this winter are juniors Melissa Mitchell (outside hitter), Valentina Levitskiy (setter) and Maddie Tucker (outside hitter). Mitchell and Levitskiy are up from last year’s JV team, while Tucker is new to the sport.
“Some of the keys to our success will be to control the ball which can help us control the game, to work as a team and not as a bunch of individual players and to utilize practice time efficiently and productively,” Bluhm said.
“We would like to make the postseason, and to do that we will have to have a .400 winning percentage. We have an uphill climb in the league, and we are looking forward to the challenge. We have a great group of girls who really enjoy playing the sport.”
CINCINNATUS RED LIONS
Coach: Macy Cobb
Key among eight seniors lost to graduation from last year’s team were all-star outside hitter Hannah Smith and senior middle hitter Lisa Wild-Gingeleski (honorable mention). “We are coming off a rebuilding year and are hoping to reestablish ourselves again this year,” said Red Lions coach Macy Cobb, whose team went 2-6 in the league and 3-13 overall last winter.
Four players return, including senior outside hitter Johanna Stark. an all-star last winter; sophomore middle hitter Kassidy Kievit (honorable mention); junior outside hitter Lizi Knapp and freshman setter/outside hitter Mallory Cobb.
The rookies are seniors Jaymee Bush (middle hitter) and Katelyn Shepard (setter-outside hitter), junior outside hitter Juanita Diaz, sophomore setter-outside hitter Miranda Knickerbocker and freshman middle hitter Sydney Burritt.
“We are still moving people around trying to figure out how to best fit our offense and defense,” Macy Cobb said. “As the newcomers regain confidence I expect that we will see some very nice play as people become more and more comfortable on the court. We need to focus on controlling the ball and generating an offense. Defensively we need to move quickly and efficiently to cover the court, to keep our opponents from outscoring us.
“Our goals are modest. I hope to bring this team to its potential. We have a lot of talent that is not developed yet. As the season progressed, I look to see them become a cohesive unit that can run an effective offense and defend their court against other teams.”
While noting that she thinks her squad has the potential to beat most of the teams in the league, Cobb said that she expects DeRuyter to be the team to beat and that the other teams will also be competitive, “so we will have to be at our best every match in order to get the winning record we desire.”
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