Heading into the new season, the area's volleyball teams have a tough act to follow.
The 2013 campaign was a banner season, with four area teams playing for sectional titles and seven of nine advancing to the sectionals.
Leading the way was Johnstown, which reached the Class B state championship match after winning its third straight Section II Class B title in a thriller over Gloversville. Broadalbin-Perth (Class C) and Mayfield (Class D) finished as sectional runners-up, while Fort Plain, Canajoharie and Fonda-Fultonville also advanced to sectionals.
Johnstown’s Annie Stock (12) sends the ball over the net during a match against Galway at the season-opening Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday at Broadalbin-Perth High School. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
As it has been for the last few years, Johnstown is poised to make another run.
Senior standout Annie Stock leads the way for the Lady Bills after earning Foothills Council Most Valuable Player honors as a junior. Stock led the team in aces and kills last season, as Johnstown went 17-2 overall and 13-1 in Foothills Council play to win the league title.
In addition to Stock, Johnstown also returns Jerica Holland, Hannah Breda, Morgan Catania and Madison Smrtic from last year's team.
Holland was a first-team Foothills Council all-star last season and led the team in assists, while Breda and Catania were second-team Foothills all-stars. Smrtic was named Foothills Council honorable mention.
Newcomers Kassidy Palmateer, Jordon Rose and Alexys Hutchins round out the Lady Bills' roster.
The Lady Bills lost Brianne O'Rourke, Alyssa Nellis and Kaitlyn Duesler to graduation. O'Rourke was named first-team all-state and Foothills Council after leading Johnstown in blocks. Nellis also was a first-team Foothills Council all-star.
"Johnstown is preparing to be competitive in the Foothills and Section II Class B tournament again as they defend both titles," Johnstown coach Heather McGuire said.
After losing to the Lady Bills in five games in the Class B championship match, Gloversville is hoping to build on last year's 16-5 overall record and 10-4 Foothills Council mark.
The Huskies lost several key contributors to graduation, including Ana Kroup, Shawna Funk, Chelsey Biasini, Katlyn Pierce and Natalie Kucel.
Pierce was a first-team Foothills Council all-star last season, while Kroup and Biasini were named to the second team. Funk was named honorable mention.
Gloversville returns Christina Pavlovsky, Jenna Putnam, Alex Bielli, Lizzie Peak, Kendra St. Andrews and Stacia Griesemer from last year's team.
Putnam was a first-team Foothills Council all-star last season.
Rounding out the roster are newcomers Jazmyn Eberts, Lauren Blanchard, Devon Davis, Lauren Javarone and Jessica Clet.
"We are hoping to maintain our competitive level of play in the Foothills Council," Gloversville coach Duane Hicks said.
Broadalbin-Perth also has high hopes heading into the season after going 14-4 overall and 11-3 in Foothills Council play last season.
The Lady Patriots opened the season by winning their Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday.
B-P lost Maddie Gurga, Regan Reed and Lisa Walendziak to graduation. Gurga was a first-team Foothills Council all-star and led the team in kills. Reed was a second-team all-star and was second on the team in digs.
The Lady Patriots return plenty of key players from last year's team, including Chelsea LeBlanc, Keyana Fariello, Gabby Smith, Zoe Simonson and Megan Ryder.
LeBlanc was a first-team Foothills Council all-star last season, while Fariello was named to the second team and Ryder earned honorable-mention staus.
"We have a good core of returning players to this year's team," Broadalbin-Perth coach Mike Calvello said. "We are looking to be competitive in the league again this year. The girls have been working hard in the off-season. We will have to work hard all year to hopefully get us back to where we were last year in terms of sectionals."
Rounding out the B-P roster are newcomers Jordan Marshall, Carly Sheffer and Nicole Traver.
"I have been very happy so far with the girls' efforts," Calvello said. "We will continue to work hard and take it one day at a time."
In its first season in the Foothills Council, Amsterdam finds itself in the South Division with Johnstown, Gloversville, Broadalbin-Perth and Scotia-Glenville.
The Lady Rams lost setter Cassidy Arocho to graduation, but return Brittanie Brown, Destinee Smith, Cassandra Santiago, Jessica Anderson and Keirstin Kaminski from last year's team.
Rounding out the Amsterdam roster are newcomers Maria Lomanto Cinderea Chrzanowski, Jarissa Rodriguez, Danielle Heck and Kateland Cooks.
Amsterdam, which went 3-13 overall and 3-9 in Big 10 play, opened its season Tuesday with a 3-0 loss to Schenectady.
"I like what these young players are bringing to the team. We look forward to entering the Foothills Council," Amsterdam coach Christine Sherlock said.
After reaching the Class C quarterfinals last season, Fonda-Fultonville is looking to go even further this season.
The Lady Braves lost Cory Lais, Kerrigan McCaslin, Abby Oliver, Gianna Mancini and Shawna Trigg to graduation, but return several key players from last year's team.
Lais and McCaslin were second-team Colonial Council all-stars in 2013.
Included among the returnees are Kyla Miller, Bailey Shave, Hailey Beddig, Gianna Cruz and Miranda Nethaway.
Nethaway was a first-team Colonial Council all-star last season.
Rounding out the FFCS roster are newcomers Emily Littlejohn, Shyann VanNostrand, Hailey Etherton, Anne Sinicropi and Linda Conti.
Fonda-Fultonville, which went 13-5 overall and 12-4 in Colonial Council play last year, opened its season with a 3-1 win over Watervliet on Tuesday.
"Having two new setters is always a challenge, but I believe that the girls will rise to that challenge," Fonda-Fultonville coach Pat Mancini said. "The team has a ton of potential and it is now up to them to live up to what I believe they can do, and if they do, they will have a very successful season."
In the Western Athletic Conference, Mayfield will look to build on last season, which saw it reach the Section II Class D championship match.
The Lady Panthers, who went 15-4 overall and 12-2 in WAC play, lost Miranda Eagan, Mackenzie Biggers, Alex Sheldon, Bailey Ward and Kiera Davis to graduation.
Eagan was the WAC's Most Valuable Hitter and fourth-team all-state, while Biggers shared Most Valuable Setter honors.
Mayfield returns Kaylee Bumpus, Bri Eagan, Maryssa Dufel, Sabrina Glode and Ashley Madeiros.
Bumpus was a second-team WAC all-star last season.
Rounding out the Lady Panthers' roster are newcomers Jamie Mault, Emily Garrigan, Abby Adamkoski, Ashley DeRosa and Alleya Garcia.
"The Mayfield volleyball team is expecting to battle for the WAC title again this year and hope to again be a presence deep into the Class D sectional tournament," said Mayfield coach Eileen Rovito, who is entering her 10th year as varsity coach and 29th year with the program.
Canajoharie posted a 13-4 overall record and 11-3 WAC mark last season and reached the Class D quarterfinals.
The Lady Cougars will need to replace Shyanna Logan, Abbey Dearwester and Shelby Mead, who were key contributors to last season's success.
Logan was the WAC South Division Most Valuable Player and a first-team all-star, while Mead and Dearwester also were first-team all-stars.
Returning from last year's team are Emma Stortecky, Ashley Darling, Frankie Nare and Gracie Adams. Stortecky was a second-team WAC South all-star last season.
Rounding out the Canajoharie roster are newcomers Skylar Logan, Jessica Hoyt, Brittini Nestle and Jenna Shepard.
"We have set high expectations and goals for this season," Canajoharie coach Stephanie Bartkus said. "The girls know they need to work hard to achive them this season after losing some great seniors. We want another division title."
Having reached sectional play for the first time in several years, Fort Plain is looking to continue its run of success this season.
The Lady Hilltoppers lost Shawna Cotton and Kasey Mang to graduation. Cotton was a first-team WAC North all-star last season.
However, Fort Plain returns Emily Potter, Cheyann Walters, Brandy Walters, Alexis Hagadorn, Ang Gomez and Desiree Suits from last year's team, which went 9-7 overall and 8-6 in WAC play.
Potter was a second-team WAC North all-star last season.
"We are very excited for this season," Fort Plain coach Lisa Trembley said. "We have many returning players who worked hard over the summer months at camps to improve for the upcoming season."
Newcomers Catharine Subik, Sara Shaffer and Adrienne Shoemaker round out the Fort Plain roster.
"This is still a younger team. We have no seniors," Trembley said. "However, several of the girls have been playing together for years and have great chemistry."
After struggling in its first season in the WAC, Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville will look to improve this season.
The Lady Wolves lost no players to graduation, and return Shelbey McCumber, Katie Pabis, Grace Yeszierski, Melissa Crapser, Corinne Dreusike, Shamrin Flanders, Kendell Sweeney and Kyleigh Hayner from last year's team.
Pabis was a second-team WAC North all-star last season.
OESJ, which went 3-12 overall and 3-11 in WAC play, has just one newcomer - Samantha Lamphere - on its roster.
"We are approaching this season with confidence and motivation to improve from last season," OESJ coach Brittany Tomek said. "With the entire team returning, our expectations of being successful and working as a team are high. Our outlook is to be competitive with every team we face. The chemistry and excitement of the team shows determination that these athletes want to improve every day."