With this morning's Broadalbin-Perth Tip-Off Tournament signifying the start of the high school volleyball season, area teams are geared up to improve on their 2012 campaigns.
Johnstown, Fort Plain, Fonda-Fultonville, Gloversville, Mayfield, and Amsterdam join host Broadalbin-Perth in the tournament this year.
Heather McGuire returns to the bench for her third season as the head coach of the Johnstown Lady Bills volleyball program. After going 29-9 overall last season en route to a Class B Section 2 championship and a Class B state finals appearance, Johnstown's goal this season is continued success.
Mayfield’s Miranda Eagan, left, battles Johnstown’s Jerica Holland (4) at the net during a non-league match on Oct. 23, 2012. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)
"Johnstown is looking to remain competitive in the Foothills League and Class B Section 2 tournament," said McGuire.
Johnstown will have to do without Foothills first teamer Zara Hyde and Foothills second teamer Elizabeth Hayward in 2013. Hayward will be continuing her volleyball career at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. The squad is returning several decorated players, however. Annie Stock, Alyssa Nellis, and Brianne O'Rourke all garnered honors last season and will look to make an impact in 2013. A few newcomers including Morgan Catania, Rachel Hansen, and Abigail Ryan will hope to have their first taste of success with Johnstown's Varsity team.
Gloversville went 12-7 last year before being ousted in the first round of the sectional tournament. Gloversville is losing four players from last year's team but will still have the services of Jenna Putnam, Katlyn Pierce, Chelsey Biasini, Shawna Funk, Ana Kroup, Alex Bielli, and Christina Pavlovsky.
"[We are] hoping to improve on last season's league and overall records," said Gloversville coach Duane Hicks.
Newcomers Kendra St. Andrews, Natalie Kucel, Lizzie Peak, and Stacia Griesemer will add depth for Gloversville in 2013.
Eileen Rovito and the Mayfield Panthers are losing two WAC all-stars this year in Nicole Little and Karissa Morey. The ninth-year coach is, nevertheless, optimistic about this year's team,
"We have good depth, solid setting, and potential to have some great power at the net," said Rovito.
Mayfield went 11-5 last season. Returners Miranda Eagan and Kaylee Bumpus figure to be important players for Mayfield.
"We should have a powerful net between Miranda and Kaylee this year," Rovito said.
Mackenzie Biggers, Brianna Eagan, Bailey Ward, and Kiera Davis will also return with Eagan and Bumpus.
The Lady Panthers will welcome five newcomers, including Jordan Marshall, Ashley Madieros, Sabrina Glode, Maryssa Dufel, and Alex Sheldon.
After a mediocre 10-8 season in 2013, Fonda-Fultonville hopes to use their enthusiasm for the game to push them forward in 2013.
"I think this group will give it their all which should ultimately lead to success," said coach Pat Mancini.
The team is losing four girls, including Taylor Wetsky another girl who will be taking her talents to FMCC.
Middle hitters Gianna Mancini and Miranda Nethaway will return this season, along with Kerrigan McCaslin and Cory Lais. New faces for Fonda-Fultonville in 2013 include juniors Kyla Miller and Bailey Shave, and sophomore's Hailey Beddig and Gianna Cruz.
Entering her 20th season as the coach of Amsterdam's volleyball team, Christine Sherlock and the Lady Rams will look to overcome the loss of former Big 10 MVP and Section 2 all star Bayley Archinal.
"Our middle hitters have enormous shoes to fill," said Sherlock. "Bayley has been a force for our team for the past four years. Without her these kids will have to step it up to be competitive."
Lei Lei Secor, Cassidy Arocho, and Destinee Smith are back after helping lead Amsterdam to a first round loss to eventual section champion Burnt Hills. After playing club volleyball in the off-season, Smith is a player Sherlock is excited about.
Amsterdam will see an influx of new players this season. Yari Laboy, Brittanie Brown, and Taylor Seidel are three of nine new Lady Rams set to compete in 2013.
With Mike Calvello at the helm for the first time since 2008, the Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots will look to advance past the section quarterfinals after stalling there in 2012. The 2013 team will have to do so without Allison Lysiak, Caitlin Rasefske, and Amy Walendziak.
Maddie Gurga, who missed half of 2012 with a broken ankle, will return along with four others from last year's squad.
"This year's team is a combination of some returning starters and some new players who will see their first Varsity action," said Calvello. "We are hoping to be competitive in a tough Foothills League with our goal of qualifying for sectional play."
Megan Ryder, Lauren Adamchick, Zoe Simonson, and Gabby Smith will see make their Varsity debuts this year.
After a disappointing 2012, the Fort Plain Lady Hilltoppers will work with a young, inexperienced team in 2013.
"We only have two seniors and one junior," said head coach Lisa Trembley. "We have four returning starters, but three of them are only sophomores."
Shawna Cotton and Kasey Mang are the Hilltopper's senior girls, while Rebecca Smith is the lone junior. Ten of the remaining 12 girls on the roster are sophomores with two freshmen competing at the varsity level this year.
Making the move to the WAC and to the fall season in 2013, Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville (OEST) is losing just three players from last year.
"With a young team, we are looking to build on our teamwork and communication throughout the season," said coach Brittany Tomek. "We have high hopes in competing in sectionals."
Leading the way for OEST will be returning players Shelbey McCumber, Katie Pabis, Brittany Ambrosino, and Kyleigh Hayner. A bevy of new girls, including Kendell Sweeney and Melissa Crasper, will help OEST build on last year's 7-11 record.
After today's Tip-Off tournament, Fonda-Fultonville will be the first area team to dive into action as they travel to Watervliet on Tuesday. The remaining teams, except for Amsterdam, will see action on Wednesday. Amsterdam's first game after the Tip-Off tournament won't be until Sept. 10 when they welcome Gloversville at 5:45 p.m.