Preseason lohud volleyball rankings
1. Panas — Much like last year, it’s understood throughout the section that Panas likely won’t be touched before reaching the state tournament. The Panthers have loaded their regular-season schedule with some of the top talent in the section, but it’s doubtful anyone will hold a candle to them. Bold prediction: Panas goes undefeated through the section and contends for (if not wins) the Class A state title.
2. Hen Hud — Sailors head coach Diane Swertfager may say she’s in a “rebuilding” year for the first time in nearly two decades, but the fact remains that Hen Hud’s rebuilding year is still better than most teams in the section. The Sailors travel to Panas in their second match of the year, which will be the ideal measuring stick. Hen Hud won the section in Class B last year, but will compete in Class A this season.
3. Scarsdale — The reigning Class AA section champs lost a ton of offensive firepower in Tatiana Tiangco, Kristine Fink, Courtney Lee, and Sydney Bernstein, who combined for more than 72 percent of the team’s kills last year. The Raiders return a decent amount of height, particularly in 6-foot-1 senior middle blocker Sophie Fried, who should have a tremendous season in her high school swan song.
4. Yorktown — The graduation of all-state Catalina Munoz is going to hurt, but the Huskers replenish talent better than anyone around. Yorktown brings back all-section middle blocker Toni Fiore and setter Macey Drezek, who shared sets with Jen DeIulio last year. Senior Nicole Ruffino will likely following in the shoes of her older sister Michelle and anchor the Huskers defense as the team’s libero. Betting against head coach Katy Sherwood has proved to not be a wise decision, for me or anyone else in the section.
5. John Jay — It seems like Yorktown and John Jay will be tied together forever, the way their history has panned out in recent years. Indians head coach Tom Rizzotti seemed optimistic about the future after a season-ending loss to Yorktown in the Section 1 Class A semifinals, which also ended the careers of former all-state hitters Julia Mines and Taylor McCarthy.
6. Westlake — Last year’s run to the Section 1 Class B semifinals could have been the Wildcats’ way of saying that 2015 was just the warm-up for a title run in 2016. Westlake returns offensive weapons in juniors Lainey Peterson and Caleigh Carr, and sophomore Sydney Roell. Senior middle blocker Kelly Martin will provide excellent height in the middle and veteran leadership for the Wildcats. Replacing all-state setter Steph Rizzo will be a tall task, but Westlake has plenty of talent to turn heads this season.
7. Arlington — The Admirals may be out of our coverage area, and may have graduated a chunk of talent, but they also have a 2,000-plus-student body to reload from. Arlington was two points away from reaching the Class AA section final last year and has a reputation for turning it on in the second half of the season.
8. Harrison — The Huskies are almost always in the conversation when talking about the Class A field, which is now more loaded than ever. Harrison, which went 17-3 last season, brings back all-conference honorable mention hitter Kayla DeMartini, senior setter Melissa Yanez, and freshman Leslie Yanez, who replaces Sydney Woolf at libero.
9. Ardsley — Three consecutive section finals will earn you the respect of a top-10 ranking when there’s uncertainty as to how your team will perform the following season. Ardsley head coach Dave Ponterio said that playing a schedule loaded with Class A teams will be a blessing or a curse to the Panthers, which will seek a fourth straight Class B finals appearance this year.
10. Pawling — It’s rare to find a team in Class C or Class D that can hold its own with the larger schools, but Pawling should fit the billing. The Tigers bring back a pair of all-state players in seniors Jaclyn Smith and Clara Lombardo from their section-championship roster. Pawling is the perennial favorite to repeat, and has a strong chance to reach the state championships in Glens Falls this year.
Class AA — 1. Scarsdale, 2. Arlington, 3. North Rockland, 4. John Jay-East Fishkill, 5. Mahopac, 6. Ossining, 7. New Rochelle, 8. Fox Lane, 9. Ursuline, 10. Suffern
Class A — 1. Panas, 2. Hen Hud, 3. Yorktown, 4. John Jay, 5. Harrison, 6. Nyack, 7. Eastchester, 8. Beacon, 9. Brewster, 10. Peekskill
Class B — 1. Westlake, 2. Ardsley, 3. Valhalla, 4. Nanuet, 5. Pleasantville, 6. Blind Brook, 7. Briarcliff, 8. Irvington, 9. Putnam Valley, 10. Hastings
Class C — 1. Pawling, 2. Haldane, 3. Dobbs Ferry, 4. Keio, 5. North Salem