NANUET —Many teams try to steer clear of setting goals, for fear that they may not attain them. Nanuet, on the other hand, has made its intentions for the upcoming volleyball season crystal clear: win the league.
“I think that they should win league, without a question,” Golden Knights coach Jen Adams said during Wednesday’s practice. “They know that I graduated from Nanuet and we had never won anything in volleyball.”
Nanuet won league titles in 2009 and 2010 but has been in a drought ever since. Reigning champion Tappan Zee and Albertus Magnus, which was solid last season, will both begin rebuilding their programs. Nyack and Pearl River continue to be on the upside of their own rebuilding processes.
The Golden Knights return six starters, with libero Danielle DiModugno being the only graduate. St. John’s-committed senior outside hitter Nia Diaz (pictured above) will provide a bulk of the team’s firepower, while fourth-year varsity senior setter Sarah Zazyczny returns to the core of the offense.
“I think we’ve finally matured enough,” Diaz said. “We’ve played together for a really long time because we are an older team, so I think we’ll finally be able to move a little bit further in sectionals and win our league title.”
• I don’t think it comes as a surprise that Diaz carry most of the offensive load. She’s a D-I talent with the powerful spike to prove it. Diaz sounded calm and confident about the team’s goals this year, stating that Nanuet’s “team dynamic” will be a big reason why it is successful this season. “We’re really close, we always hang out, we communicate really well on the court, and I think that shows because of how close friends we are,” she said.
• Diaz will be redshirted her first season at St. John’s, but will be on an academic scholarship. The senior will then be on a four-year athletic scholarship for the duration of her tenure with the university. “It’s a great academic school and … the program is great, they’ve been around forever,” she said. “It’s definitely a relief, because that’s the goal — you play club and you work really hard to maybe get noticed and maybe continue your career.”
• Adams elaborated that correcting a poor mental game is not something that can necessarily be fixed in practice. “It’s tough, because it’s not a skill,” she said. “It’s not something like footwork, or hands that need to be fixed. If you start getting down, it’s sometimes hard to pull yourself up in rally score.” With a focus on the team’s mental game, Adams added that it’s all the more reason not to goof off in practice. “They’ve been doing better. In practices, we’ve been talking about how it’s important not to laugh at things that happen that are silly because if you do it here at practice, you’re not going to do that in a game; you’re going to shut down a little bit.
“It’s important to keep the same consistency every day in practice,” she added.
• Even with a bulk of returning players, Adams still isn’t certain on whom will play where. “Nia and Sarah are returning all-county players and Rebecca (Becourtney, pictured above) was all-league. Hailey (Runowski, pictured right), my middle, is going to, I think, have a big effect, and then the other spots are really kind of open.”
• Becourtney, a third-year outside hitter, said that the team has been working on all aspects of the game in practice, with a focus on serve-receive. While Nanuet has not received its complete schedule yet, the junior maintained that the team’s goals, regardless, are league-first. “Definitely, first, we’re shooting for league, and from there, take it from there and go further.”
Photo credit: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News