Maybe they’re poised for a breakout season this year, or maybe they are a name you’re going to read a lot about in the future. Here are nine players that may not be household names now, but could be as soon as this season:
(Qualifications: Player is a sophomore or younger and has not earned any kind of all-county, section or state recognition. These are just players that I’ve seen that I think have bright futures; it’s not in any way meant to be an all-rookie team or anything like that. There are a number of players that are worthy of being mentioned here; I’m just listing nine that have caught my eye. I would like to do this annually, so this year is a trial run.)
Kiara Adams, Peekskill, So.: The Lady Red Devils are building their program back up under head coach Dennis Adams, Kiara’s father, but their relation has nothing to do with the fact that this 5-foot-10 sophomore can do it all.
Jen Braun, Panas, Fr.: I had to triple-check with Panthers coach Joe Felipe to confirm that Braun was only a freshman. Already hovering around 6-feet tall, Braun is built to pack a powerful punch on the attack and will be a vital part of Panas’ offense in a couple of years.
Kayla DeMartini, Harrison, So.: When two of your team captains and the head coach all note your improvement, you must be doing something right. When spectators can match the name to the player without having to ask, you know you’re doing something right. DeMartini will be an integral part of the Huskies’ offense this year and will be a leader of the pack going forward.
Macey Drezek, Yorktown, So.: Huskers coach Katy Sherwood has developed quite a crop of talent over in Yorktown, building the program to be one of the best in Class A in recent years. Drezek, a first-year varsity setter, should become another gem out of the program. Although sharing sets with senior Jen DeIulio, Drezek’s high-energy play, strong serve and electric attitude immediately grab your attention.
Charlotte Krause, Pelham, So.: She’s 5-foot-10 and lanky, has great instincts and has volleyball talent in her blood lines (older sister Megan was an all-section player for the Pelicans). I’m not sure what Krause’s role will be this season, but with a large senior class graduating this year, odds are that head coach Mark Finegan will look for her to be a presence in the middle in 2016 and 2017.
Madison Monahan, North Rockland, So.: The parity in Rockland County this year could be an excellent opportunity for Monahan to really shine. Now with a year of national club ball experience, Monahan is visibly more skilled, accurate and confident. Don’t be surprised if she’s in Rockland player of the year talks at the end of the season.
Maya Owens, Nyack, So.: In almost any sport, lefties are a blessing. Baseball coaches love them, whether they’re a starting pitcher, relief man, or hitter, and volleyball coaches love them if they can hit because it allows them to fill their right-side slot easier; and Owens can hit. Indians head coach Christian Collazo had high praise for the southpaw and expects her to play a more pivotal role in the team’s offense this year.
Zoe Staats, Hen Hud, So.: You would think that after four years on the volleyball beat, when Sailors head coach (and soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee) Diane Swertfager tells me something, I’d listen a little closer. Swertfager told me about a talented lefty freshman she had during their annual tournament last year and I took a few notes down. I walked into Hen Hud’s gym last week and Staats stood out in a major way. Around 6-feet tall and as powerful as any hitter I’ve seen, this is one name that will definitely blossom into a superstar.
Mychael Vernon, Ossining, 8th: During the Clarkstown South scrimmage Saturday, three people asked me what grade Vernon was in and all three replied, “Eighth?!” when I informed them. The younger sister of Pride alumna and current Fordham assistant coach Patricia, Vernon is tall and skilled in every area on the court. It’s evident that she’s ahead of her class and that head coach Lauren Riccardi will have a standout to work with into the end of the decade.