MAHOPAC – Mahopac head coach Jay Melville was hoping to get a glimpse of what the Class AA field would look like this season, with reigning section semifinalists Arlington and Fox Lane slated to play in the Indians’ annual multi-team preseason scrimmage Monday. But both teams pulled out of the scrimmage.
Fox Lane did not have the minimum six practices required to compete, and Arlington withdrew due to head coach Maria Greenwood having to participate in training for the state’s Dignity for All Students Act. Fortunately for Melville, Hen Hud head coach Diane Swertfager phoned Westlake head coach Carmen Bates, who happily agreed to step in.
Between the Class AA field being so wide open last year — with the section final, both semifinals, and two quarterfinals all going to five sets — and most teams being hit hard by graduation, the ‘‘AA’’ crown could be up for grabs for any team that is in the conversation.
“Volleyball has really picked up in the area from when I first started coaching,” said Melville, whose team reached the section semifinals in 2014. “You just have so many girls who are now playing travel volleyball and are just playing year-round.”
While Monday did not allow Melville to see how his team might stack up against the Class AA field, he said watching the Indians in action will likely force him to make some lineup changes he was not expecting to make going into the event.
Sophomore Carah Vitkus, who set during her debut varsity season last year, said she’ll likely play more of an outside-hitting role this season. That’s not the only change she expects to see this year, she said.
“We’re closer, closer as a team,” she said. “I hope we can stay really close and be strong on the attack.”
Left side, strong side: Westlake assistant coach Gina Perino was amazed by the strength of Hen Hud southpaw hitter Zoe Staats, who was named to the Journal News/lohud preseason “Super 7” team Monday morning. “They should check the floorboards,” Perino said, implying Staats may have dented the court.
Pawling on the prowl: The reigning Section 1 Class C champions enter this year as the Journal News/lohud preseason favorite to successfully defend their title, and the Tigers displayed why Monday. Pawling ran off six consecutive points against Hen Hud in its opening set against the reigning Class B section champ. Hen Hud is competing in Class A this season.