Every year, the Journal News/lohud selects a list of the top returning players in each sport, with our annual football list — commonly referred to as the “Super 11” team — has become one of the biggest announcements during the preseason each fall. While we will still announce a list of seven players for volleyball, I’ve decided to make things a little more interesting by naming 15 finalists a week before the final list is unveiled.
The “Super 7” will be announced in a video (like the one below) on Sunday night, Aug. 28. The season preview column and preseason power rankings will also be posted online that night, and all three files will run in Monday’s paper. In the meantime, please check out this year’s “Super 7” finalists:
1. Yvette Burcescu, Panas, Jr., OH: The returning Westchester/Putnam player of the year committed to Tulane over the summer after earning an All-American honorable mention nod last year. Burcescu, a powerful 6-foot-2 outside hitter, returns as one of the top hitters in the country and one of the biggest threats in the state.
2. Julianna Bottarini, Panas, Sr., S: Bottarini did a little bit of everything for Panas last year while flying relatively low on the radar. A returning all-section selection, Bottarini will be the Panthers’ starting setter this season, according to head coach Joe Felipe, and will be the nucleus of the most talented offense in the region.
3. Lauren Feeley, Panas, Jr., OH: Following a breakout sophomore campaign that saw her garner all-section honors and multiple all-tournament team selections, Feeley will have an increased hitting role with Shauna O’Flaherty and Bridget Walsh graduated, and all teams honing in on Burcescu.
4. Sabrina Patriciello, Panas, Jr., L: From Floriana Rraci, to Victoria Fletcher, to Patriciello, the Panthers have had a long line of liberos who aren’t afraid sacrifice their body for a dig on the court. Patriciello earned first-team all-state honors last year and will once again be the anchor of the Panthers’ defense.
5. Kirstin Loh, Hen Hud, Sr., OH: It was a rough end of the year for Loh last season, suffering a sprained ankle and a tick bite on the same leg in the final weeks of the season. Now in her senior year, the Sailors will be a force on the outside for head coach Diane Swertfager.
6. Zoe Staats, Hen Hud, Jr., RS: One of the hardest hitters in the section, Staats turned heads in her sophomore year en route to all-section honors. The talented southpaw will once again give the Sailors a balanced attack across the net.
7. Christina Chu, Ardsley, Jr., S: Chu proved last year that she’s going to be successful no matter where you put her on the court. After garnering all-county honors as a libero her freshman year, Chu earned all-section honors as a setter last season.
8. Marie McNerney, Ardsley, Sr., OH: With all-state hitter Nicolina Chenard off to Dominican College, all eyes will be on McNerney to carry the brunt of the Panthers’ offensive load. The all-section returnee’s height and power allow her to be a force as an outside hitter or middle blocker, if head coach Dave Ponterio needs her front and center.
9. Brooke Vahos, Haldane, Sr., OH/MB/S: Vahos earned second-team all-state honors after leading the Blue Devils to the state final for the sixth consecutive season. Haldane will be under its third coach in as many years, and in Class C for the first time ever, but the veteran leadership of Vahos should make for another competitive season.
10. Annmarie Horn, Scarsdale, Jr., S: Horn saw tremendous success in her sophomore year last season, earning all-section honors and a MaxPreps player of the week award while helping the Raiders claim their first section title in nearly three decades.
11. Mychael Vernon, Ossining, Fr., OH: A wildly athletic specimen, Vernon is a veteran in her freshman year, which will be her third on the varsity program. Vernon already has talent well beyond her years and is often the name on fans’ lips at tournaments.
12. Toni Fiore, Yorktown, Sr., MB: A blocking machine in the middle of Yorktown’s defense, Fiore earned all-section honors for her work in helping the Huskers to the Class A section final last year. The loss of all-state hitter Cat Munoz will put added responsibility on the powerful senior.
13. Kiara Adams, Peekskill, Jr., OH: A versatile and underrated athlete, Adams often doesn’t get the credit or recognition she should due to Peekskill’s rebuilding status as a program. The Lady Red Devils have seen a turnaround since her father, Dennis Adams, took over the program two years ago — tripling its win total last year from the season before — and Kiara Adams’ play is a large part of that improvement.
14. Nicole Frascati, Yonkers, Sr., OH: Another underrated talent, Frascati was MVP of the Sleepy Hollow tournament last year for the Bulldogs and took home the Section 1 grass doubles tournament title this past weekend.
15. Madison Monahan, North Rockland, Jr., OH: The lone Rockland County representative on the list, Monahan enjoyed a nice breakout season for the Red Raiders last year. The graduation of Amanda Schweitzer and transfer of sophomore Jaida Patrick, who is now at Long Island Lutheran, means Monahan could see even more offensive opportunities than already expected.