Girls' Volleyball previews
Saturday, September 4, 2004
Defending champion: Southern Regional
Overview: Cherry Hill East returns senior setter and Courier-Post Player of the Year Sam Foss and three other starters, junior outside hitters Laurel Johnson and Jacie Davis and senior middle Heather Leonhardt from last season's Group 4 state finalist. The Cougars' roster also includes junior middle Carolyn Mooney, freshman opposite Aubrey McNally and defensive specialists sophomore Katie Taylor and senior Angela Miller.
Eastern should give the Cougars a run for the title. Key returnees for the Vikings are senior middles Kim Karper and Jessica Bauer, outside hitters Robyn Nwanko, Lindsay Hulme and Tara Ali and senior setter Katy Nowicki. Also, look for contributions from former Eastern soccer player Shannon Leyden and juniors Kim Yau and Ashley Olson.
Washington Township lost key players to graduation, but the Minutemaids still have the athletes to become a real contender. The Minutemaids will count on senior setter Emily Bill, senior outside hitter Alexis Louie, junior outside hitters Abby Verrillo and Karen Martin and senior defensive specialist Nikki Cosico.
Southern still has the talent to defend its title. Top returnees for the Rams include junior Jenelle Murdock and seniors Brooke Fleming and Christine Barnes.
First-year program Cherokee will be led by junior middle Ashley Constatino and junior setter Alex Cifelli. The Chiefs also have good young talent in senior Kaitlin Hiserote, junior Kelly Chambers, sophomore Maura Gillespie and freshmen Michelle Ferrari, Rachel Emig and Anna Steicher.
Defending champion: Moorestown
Overview: Moorestown will be going for its third straight division title. The Quakers have won five out of the last seven division championships.
Moorestown is led by junior setter Meghan Morrissey, a second team All-South Jersey selection last season, and juniors Shay Aaron and Erika Iouriev.
"This is my eighth year with the program and this is by far our deepest and best team," said Moorestown coach Scott Atkinson, last season's Courier-Post Coach of the Year. "The girls set a goal of winning 20 games. It's a lofty goal, but I don't think it's out of reach."
Atkinson expects immediate help from freshmen Chris Velott and Brittany Booth.
Sterling should be in the division hunt.
The Silver Knights are counting on senior outside hitters Katie Davis and Amber Swain for court leadership. Sterling sophomores Kim Lumas and Marie Belunia will also get their share of playing time. The Silver Knights will also look for contributions from seniors Lindsay Sheridan, Michelle Papaycik, Jamie Fuller and Jenna Adams and sophomore Christine Badey.
Second-year Clearview returns senior defensive specialist Brittany Verfaillie and sophomore outside hitter Carol Dunham, and add seniors Heather Hussey, junior Sarah Porter and sophomores Monica Riela, Stephanie Matsuk and Alison Hymer.
Defending Champion: Williamstown
Overview: Williamstown was hit hard by graduation, with six ex-Braves now playing collegiately. The Braves only return three starters - senior middle hitters Rachel Williams and Natalie Powell and sophomore outside hitter Nina Camaioni - and are not nearly as deep as last season. Coach Chris Sheppard will fill the remainder of the Braves roster from a group that includes seniors Caitlin Wright, Jill Lawlor, Kelly Boeckle and Lori Zott, juniors Kim Lull and Dee Ann Linen and sophomore Stacy DiMattia.
The Braves are the team to beat, but Cherry Hill West will be a contender. The Lions return junior outside hitters Kelly Smith and Danielle Buchanan. Smith is also an excellent setter, while Buchanan is a tough defender. The Lions will also get help from junior middle blocker and setter Rebecca Pierce, who is a very reliable passer and solid decision maker.
Winslow Township will look to improve on last season's .500 record with returning seniors Amanda Kenney, Sara Mauro, Ashley Shorten and Felicia Toney and juniors Heema Patel and Van Lam Luu.
Pennsauken hopes to make a run at the playoffs behind senior leaders Porsh Rogers, Meg Kendall and Diana Pinzon. Indians sophomore Jasmine Sloan-El will make an immediate impact, while Siant Horn, Angelica Torres and Chetra Kem should see plenty of playing time.
Shawnee and Seneca will probably play better than their first year program status.
Defending champion: first year for division
Overview: Despite losing four starters, Pennsauken Tech, a state Group 2 quarterfinal team last season, must be considered a favorite to win the first-ever Freedom championship.
The Tornados are depending on returning players in senior outside hitter/setter Nikita Piercy, senior outside hitter Yvonne Rucker, senior defender Kathy Roman and junior setter Laura Jean Maino.
Pennsauken Tech coach Rhonda Ritz is also looking for contributions from sophomore setter Jasmine White and junior outside hitter Sereta Piercy.
First-year Cinnaminson could challenge for the crown.
The Pirates set sail with seniors Brittany Aydelotte, Julia Tumas, Samantha Esmond, Vanessa Smith, Megan Pitko and Kerry Posusa, juniors Jaime Welcher and Colleen Keegan, sophomores Deanna Cho and Danielle Poskusa, and freshmen Jessica Lillagore, Melynda McGinnis, Bridget Donnellan and Kelly Garvey.
Pleasantville, which played an independent schedule last season, should have a much improved team. The Greyhounds are looking to returning players in junior setter and team leader Amy Lapaix, junior hitter Nathalie Cabrera, senior hitter and track and field standout Jordean Matthews and sophomore hitter and basketball player Aminah Davis.
Pleasantville coach Jim Bucko is also looking for contributions from newcomers junior Catherine Rivera and freshman Gretchel Vila.
Names and preview information were provided by the coaches via preseason forms that were provided to the schools.