Volleyball teams across the region are beginning play this week — some started last weekend — and coaches are in the beginning stages of getting to know their teams. Some are young and some have the experience necessary to make a deep run in 2012.
In this year's boys volleyball preview, we set the scene for the season in the land of spikes and digs.
North Tonawanda boys volleyball coach Luke Hodgson has the luxury of knowing that virtually all of his players are well versed in more than one position on the court.
"The thing that stands out the most is so many of these guys can play so many different spots," Hodgson said.
The Jacks are led by co-captains Chris Libroia and Ryan Fritz, as they boast a roster of eight returning players: seniors Andrew Metzger, Zach Mullins, Elliaggia Sobus III, Tyler Walker, Nick Vossler, and junior Joe Pitrowski.
The Jacks also welcome three talented newcomers from the JV squad, Brandon Lavocat, Sam Weglarski and Donovan Book. All three saw substantial time on JV and are expected to push hard for playing time on varsity.
— Dave Ricci
Coach Mark Anzalone said that most volleyball teams in the area would kill to be in his team's position — ranked No. 2 in Western New York early in the 2012 season.
But his Marauders expect to be the best.
Over the weekend, St. Joe's competed in the Clarence Tournament against some of the area's top teams. The Marauders won their way through the field before falling to arch rival, Canisius (25-23, 24-26, 15-7).
"Most teams would be pretty happy with No. 2," Anzalone said. "But we're expecting to be No. 1."
St. Joe's returns nine players from last season's 17-7 squad, including senior center Jack Heary — and all-tournament selection over the weekend. Two big subtractions from 2011 — Rob Heary (second-team all-Western New York) and Joe Hachdrl — were key players and two-year starters for Anzalone. He said the pair were strong leaders, but he expects a number of returning players to pick up the slack.