WNY Volleyball NEWS



This site catalogs the news from Western New York's High School and college volleyball scene in order to provide greater recognition for the players, their hard work and achievement as well as awareness for the sport of volleyball. There exists a rich tradition of volleyball excellence within our region and it's time we celebrate it!




Boys Section VI Playoff Brackets
Section VI
November 11, 201

2015 Section VI Boys Playoff Brackets

Girls Section VI Playoff Brackets
Section VI
November 11, 201

2015 Section VI Girls Playoff_Brackets

Eighteen-seeded North boys volleyball reaches Class B final
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter, Amherst Bee
Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Williamsville North’s Noah Chojnacki attacks the ball during the Spartans’ 25-12, 23-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-20 victory over Williamsville South in the Section VI Class B prequarterfinals Nov. 3. The Spartans went on to beat West Seneca West 23-25, 25-21, 29-27, 25-20 in the quarterfinals Thursday and defeated Eden 24-26, 26-24, 25-23, 17-25, 25-19 in the semifinals Saturday at Lackawanna High School. Photos by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Williamsville North boys volleyball coach Mike Minnuto knew his team was better than its 18th seed for the Section VI Class B Tournament, and they have proved it by reaching the Class B final.

The Spartans knocked off second seeded Williamsville South, 25-17, 23-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-20, in the Class B prequarterfinal on Nov. 3, seventh-seeded West Seneca West, 24-26, 25-21, 27-25, 25-20, in the quarterfinals on Thursday and third-seeded Eden, 24-26, 26-24, 25-23, 17-25, 25-19, in the semifinals on Saturday at Lackawanna to reach the final.

North plays top seeded Grand Island for the title at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Lackawanna High School.

“I told the kids that there is no way that we are an eighteen seed but no matter who you play, eventually you’re going to play a good school and it is going to take five victories to win a sectional title so let’s go,” North coach Mike Minnuto said. “That has been our approach.”

“I’m proud of this group of kids,” he said. “It would have been really easy to lose focus and motivation to improve after losing a bunch of close games. They stayed mentally tough, and kept working. Our winning is a direct result of their attitude and effort. Once you have the skill in this game, confidence is everything.”

Minnuto said his team changed up its game plan against Eden, ranked second in Western New York, and took advantage of a mismatch in the middle.

“We relied on middle hitters Peter Battaglia (12 kills) and Adam Gulick to keep a high-powered Eden team off rhythm,” he said. “We played sound defense and capitalized on opportunities at the net. We went back to our outside and right side hitters in the fifth game to secure the victory.”

Minnuto said senior Connor Thomas buried a serve receive point from the right side and senior Ryan Greene and Battaglia blocked Declan Pierce for the game-winning point.

Senior Noah Chojnacki added 10 kills. Thomas posted eight kills, seven blocks and 12 digs. Senior Jeremy Schatz handed out 32 assists.

“It was a huge win for our program,” Minnuto said.

Minnuto said his team used a dominating triple block to record a team-high 25 blocks against West Seneca West.

“We played sound team defense to neutralize a bigger West Seneca West team,” he said.

Chojnacki led West with 14 kills.

Greene added 10 kills. Gulick blocked seven shots and Schatz distributed 36 assists.

Minnuto said the win over South was a tremendous confidence builder.

“In the fifth game, the kids focused and eliminated some of our mistakes and controlled play,” he said. “When we won that game, we got a new level of confidence.”

Chojnacki led North with 17 kills. Thomas added eight blocks and 12 digs.

Schatz handed out 38 assists and Battaglia added four aces.

South coach Thom Knab said North had a little more firepower at attack and was better than his team at digging the ball.

“Defense wins a lot of games and now they are in the finals,” Knab said. “Mike Minnuto has done a great job.”


Williamsville South’s Joe Zanelotti gets his hands on a kill in the second set of the Billies’ 12-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 20-25 loss against Williamsville North in the Section VI Class B pre-quarterfinals Tuesday, Nov. 3. Zanelotti finished his high school career with single-season schools records for kills, aces and assists, and the career assists record.

South was led by Joe Zanelotti with 38 kills and seven aces. He finished the season with 436 kills, which broke the single-season record by 91. Zanelotti also recorded a team record 99 aces, which broke his previous single season record of 80. Additionally he owns the record for aces in a career (286).

Zanelotti also has the season (1,257) and career marks for assists (2,239).

“Joe Zanelotti is probably the smartest player I have ever coached in 32 years,” Knab said. “He knows what to do on the court and sees the court well.”

Shawn Barbalato added 14 kills and eight blocks and Sean Brown blocked six shots versus North.

Barbalato led the team with 89 blocks and was second to Zanelotti in kills (245) and aces (47).

Brown was second in blocks (55).

Zanelotto, Barbalato, Brown and senior setter Evan Manna are the seniors on the roster. South finished 16-5 and won the ECIC II title.

Clarence Boys volleyball tops Ken West, Falls to OP in Class A playoffs
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Clarence’s Tyler White, second from left, and Jake Ireland, second from right, attempt to block Kenmore West’s Kyle LaPlante during the Red Devils’ 25-21, 25-20, 25-12 triumph in Thursday’s Section VI Class A quarterfinal. Photo by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Clarence’s fifth-seeded boys volleyball team came up big in its playoff opener against fourth-seeded Kenmore West on Thursday, posting a 25-21, 25-20, 25-12 sweep in what coach Kevin Starr called “a good tune-up for our semifinal match” against Orchard Park two days later.

Everyone dressed for the quarterfinal was able to get some time on the court during Clarence’s win, with Starr noting that the Red Devils’ reserves who held down the fort in the third set “really showed the quality level” of Clarence’s bench.

“Many of our guys who don’t get to play much did a great job and dominated West’s starters, especially in the third set,” Starr said. “West is big and athletic, and we kept them in the match with way too many missed serves in the first set. As the match went on, though, we started to pull it together.”

Junior Henry Payne let the way for Clarence with 27 kills, while senior Ben Janzow added 10 kills. Sophomore setter Shawn Trznadel, a playoff call-up from the JV team, dished out 19 assists to set Clarence up for its date with the top-seeded Quakers.

The Red Devils came up a couple of breaks away from moving on to the finals in suffering a 21-25, 25-21, 15-25, 28-26, 22-25 loss to Orchard Park. Payne finished the night with 28 kills in 53 attempts — maintaining his over .500 hitting percentage for the season — despite Orchard Park’s intense defensive presence anytime he moved near the ball. Janzow, meanwhile, closed out his career with 15 kills on the night.

“It was a hard match to lose because we really were one or two breaks away from being in the finals,” Starr said. “It’s going to take a while to let this one go, but the kids can take away from this that they played as a team and went down swinging. The fifth set was especially intense, but the boys stayed focused, fought hard and almost pulled it out. It truly was a battle.

“Clichés are clichés for a reason — because they’re true — and the guys really gave it their all and left it all on the court,” Starr continued. “They believed in themselves and gave a tremendous effort, never losing their cool, and ultimately lost the same way that they won during the season — with dignity and class.”

Clarence will officially put the 2015 season to bed Tuesday when it holds its annual team awards banquet.

Clarence Girls volleyball stops Jamestown in AA semis
JASON NADOLINSKI Sports Reporter, Clarence Bee
Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Clarence’s Emiley Kuhn bumps the ball during the Lady Red Devils’ 25-11, 25-15, 25-14 triumph over Jamestown in November 4’s Section VI Class AA semifinal. Photo by James SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Clarence’s girls volleyball team showed no signs of rust from its 10-day layoff between the end of the regular season and its playoff debut Nov. 4 as the Lady Red Devils — who finished undefeated in league play and earned a second straight top billing in the AA bracket — took down Jamestown with ease in the semifinals, 25-11, 25-15, 25-14.

The Lady Red Devils, who took on Williamsville East in their regular-season finale on Oct. 26, scrimmaged Eden and Williamsville East during their layoff to stay ready for their playoff run. Coach Mike Meyer said the Eden scrimmage was conducted “at a very high level,” but that Clarence primarily used its break “to get back to basics.”

“The time off we had was almost like a week of preseason, where we worked at things we saw we needed to address,” Meyer said. “We saw the time off as a good opportunity to do that, and the girls responded with an intense focus on getting better. When your focus is on getting better and not just winning, there’s always a purpose to your practice.”

The purpose in Clarence’s practice was evident against the Lady Red Raiders, as the Lady Red Devils used every tactic at their disposal to thoroughly dismantle Jamestown. Meghan Neelon had nine kills and seven digs for Clarence, while Jaide Cummings added nine digs and three aces. Karley King chipped in with six kills and four aces, while Maddie Christopher added 12 assists and six aces.

“We served tough and played great defense,” Meyer said. “Karley, Meghan, Hannah, Emily and Melissa all did a great job of attacking off a dug ball or a free ball. Having a number of girls we can count on offensively helps a lot too; if you can have a middle attack that is consistent and have the passing that starts that, it really opens up the rest of the game. That’s been one of big keys to our success this season. But, by the same measure, if you can serve tough and take away their middle attack, you get a better sense of what’s coming.

“We believe if we serve teams tough it puts a lot of pressure on teams and gets them out of their system,” Meyer continued. We want to be relentless on offense once we dig out the ball, and I think we stayed pretty consistent all year in that regard.”

Clarence returned to action Tuesday by facing Lancaster in the Class AA final at Pioneer, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Lady Red Devils topped the second-seeded Lady Redskins by a 3-0 margin in the first meeting of the year and a 3-2 margin in the rematch, so Meyer expected an extremely competitive match in the final.

“We just really need to stick to the formula and believe in it,” Meyer said. “They’ve improved every time we’ve seen them this year, but I think we’ve also improved every time we’ve played this year too. We’ve just got to serve tough, play good defense and kill the ball when we get good opportunities to do so.”

The winner of Tuesday’s sectional final will return to Pioneer Saturday for the Far West Regional, where the Section VI and Section V champs will battle for the right to advance to the state semifinals.

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

CCA girls volleyball finishes first season in top three
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter, Amherst Bee
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Christian Central Academy’s varsity girls volleyball team finished its first season Friday with a hard-fought victory against Old Time Baptist to place third in the Niagara Frontier Christian Athletic Association.

Playoffs for the league had started a week earlier when the Crusaders faced Amherst Christian Academy for the third time this year, winning 3-0. The victory was attributed to strong serving by sophomore Jill Kasmore, strong net play by senior captain Emily Miller, and overall great floor play by Alyssa Guerin, Gabby Briandi, Kaye Terryberry, and Sarah Gummo. “These girls have worked so hard this season and it’s all starting to pay off,” first-year coach Cathy Tom said. “The difference from our first practice to now is unbelievable. These girls have really stepped up.”

That Tuesday, CCA faced the top seed in the South division of the league, Academe of Aurora. The Lady Crusaders won the first two games, but unfortunately came up short in the fifth set.

This put the Lady Crusaders in the consolation game against Old Time Baptist. The Crusaders had lost to Old Time Baptist in the beginning of the season 3-2, so they were expecting a tough game.

In the first set, CCA hit the ground running with a substantial victory, but lost their stamina in the second set.

By the end of the fourth set, CCA and Old Time Baptist were tied at 2-2, resulting in the fifth set.

The set went to extra points, resulting in a 20-18 victory by the Crusaders. Senior Tess Giovino served to get the girls up by one, and then Miller finished the game on a spike with a set received from Terryberry, which sealed the win.

“It’s crazy that this is our first year and that we finished so well,” Miller said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team to start and end my volleyball career with.”

CCA finished with an overall record of 8-6.

East boys volleyball’s season ends in Class B quarters
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Williamsville East’s varsity boys volleyball team finished its regular season with a 9-3 record in ECIC II and a 15-4 overall record.

The Flames also set a school record for wins in the regular season, going 14-4, and finished fourth at the North Tonawanda and Grand Island Tournaments.

East beat Lake Shore, 25-13, 27-25, 25-22 in the Section VI Class B prequarterfinals — third win over Lake Shore this season — and lost to second ranked Eden 18-25, 20-25, 11-25 in the quarterfinals.

“The athletes had a tremendous season and should be proud of their accomplishments this season,” East coach Mike Braunscheidel said.

The East JV team finished with an 11-1 league record and an overall record of 15-2. The JV team also placed second at the North Tonawanda Tournament, the first trophy place for East’s JV program.

“Over the past two years, coach Conrad and I have been coaching together,” Braunscheidel said. “The program, as a whole, has increased in the number of student athletes participating and playing year-round in the offseason. Both squads continue to be very competitive in league, non-league and tournament play.”

Braunscheidel said the addition of the modified program and coach Bill O’Hare, who finished 3-11, will help to develop athletes at a younger age, which he believes will result in an even stronger and more polished program.

Amherst falls in prequarters
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Amherst boys volleyball team’s season came to an end with an 18-25, 19-25, 25-27 home loss against Starpoint in the Section VI Class B pre-quarterfinals on Nov. 2.

“Playing in a home match was something we strived for all season and we were honored to do so,” Amherst coach Peter Wlosinski said.

He said the team got off to a slow start and struggled to serve receive.

“We needed to focus on our first contact in order for our offense to run the way we have practiced,” he said. “Throughout the match, there were many rallies in which both sides wouldn’t let the ball hit the floor. The players put forth the effort without a doubt and I am proud of them. We knew what it took to earn a point and worked together.”

Amherst trailed 16-21 in the third game, and after a timeout, went on a 7-2 run to force overtime, but came up short.

Nick Patterson led the Tigers with nine kills and 13 digs.

Eric Niblock added four kills and 12 digs and Tom Greco supplied three kills and 12 digs. Pat Stein posted two kills and five digs. Mike Hildago handed out 16 assists.

Amherst finished 7-5 in ECIC III and 10-9 overall.

”This year’s team was a great group of guys with their heads in the right place,” Wlosinski said. “Typically as the season ends, players have their heads hanging and appearing to be down. After our matches, no matter if we won or lost, we were always smiling because we had fun. Every practice had players enjoying being a part of a team and I couldn’t be happier to have been their coach.”

Patterson led the way with 208 kills, the most kills in a season at Amherst in the past seven years. He also recorded team-highs for aces (55) and blocks (55), and was second in digs (241).

Greco led the team with 249 digs. He also recorded 66 kills, 34 aces and 11 blocks.

Niblock posted 162 digs, 64 kills, 17 aces and six blocks, Stein had 32 kills, 43 digs, 43 aces and seven blocks, and Hildalgo posted a team-high 350 assists, along with 86 digs and 37 aces.

Clarence, Williamsville East going back to volleyball regionals
Buffalo News Staff
Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Clarence repeated as the sectional Class AA girls volleyball champion with a three-set sweep of Lancaster in the finals Tuesday at Pioneer.


One loss prevented the Clarence and Williamsville East girls volleyball teams from reaching the state final four last season. Now the Red Devils and Flames have a chance to make amends.

Western New York’s top two large schools repeated as Section VI champions Tuesday night to secure spots in the Far West Regionals, where their seasons ended a year ago.

Second-ranked Clarence rolled to the Class AA title with a workmanlike, 25-15, 25-15, 25-14 sweep of Lancaster at Pioneer High School.

No. 1 East’s championship win over Sweet Home in Class A also came in straight sets, 25-15, 25-18, 25-23, but not without an impressive rally in the clincher.

“What we’ve really been stressing is each game” there are “75 points between us and the next game,” said Clarence senior Karley King, who had seven kills and seven digs. “Seventy-five points between us and states now. We are ready to go.”

Standing between the Red Devils (22-2) and a trip to Glens Falls is Section V (Rochester area) champion Webster Schroeder, which Clarence will meet at 11 a.m. Saturday at Pioneer.

“There’s all these steps in the playoffs, and we were a step short of getting to states last year,” said Red Devils coach Mike Meyer. “We’ve set some pretty high goals for ourselves. The biggest one is to get better all year, and we’ve stuck to that.”

It showed Tuesday. Clarence never trailed in the first two sets and used a 16-3 finish to overcome a deficit in the third. The Red Devils beat Lancaster for the third time this season, but one of the ECIC I meetings went to five sets.

Junior Meghan Neelon had 17 kills, 11 assists and eight digs for Clarence. Alyssa Babinger led Lancaster (13-5) with nine kills.

While Williamsville East (19-0) also won a title in a sweep, the Flames’ victory ended with some drama.

Williamsville East swept Sweet Home to win Regionals

East cruised in the first two sets, never trailing. But in the third game, Sweet Home roared to a 22-16 lead before the Flames stormed back.

“It was tough. Sweet Home put a great effort together,” said East coach Scott Wright. “Rachel Reusch almost single-handedly took us down in the third game. But that’s what our team is – we’re very resilient, we’ve got a lot of girls that play a lot of volleyball, and it’s just an honor to watch them play.”

East got 19 kills and 15 digs from senior Carly Shifflet. Sam Mendelsohn recorded 32 digs, and Lexi Novak tallied 13 kills.

Reusch finished with 22 kills and 16 digs for Sweet Home (12-6).

In the Far West Regional at 1 p.m. Saturday at Pioneer, the Flames will get a rematch with the team that dealt them last year’s final loss, Pittsford Sutherland.

“We talked about our goals all year,” he said. “We talked about going undefeated in the season, we talked about winning the section again, and now we would like to take it at least one step further.”

Western New York 2015 Boys Top 10 Poll - 11/10/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS
1. Canisius (12) 120
2. Orchard Park 108
3. Lancaster 90
4. Grand Island 71
5. Williamsville North 68
6. Eden 55
7. Clarence 38
8. Hamburg 37
9. Frontier 21
10. West Seneca West 11


Western New York 2015 Girls Top 10 Poll - 11/10/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Williamsville East (7) 70
2. Clarence 63
3. Lancaster 56
4. Sweet Home 46
5. Williamsville South 32
6. Hamburg 28
7. Kenmore West 20
8. Niagara Wheatfield 16
9. Orchard Park 12
10. Grand Island 9
Also receiving votes: Frontier, Williamsville North.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60
2. Eden 54
3. Portville 48
4. Nardin 40
5. Southwestern 33
6. City Honors 30
7. Randolph 25
8. Chautauqua Lake 19
9. North Collins 15
T-10. Immaculata 8
T-10. Panama 8
Also receiving votes: Sacred Heart, Maryvale,  and Mt. St. Mary's.

High School Extra (Nov. 10): Portville wins girls volleyball title
Buffalo News Staff
Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Portville, the defending state champion, dropped the first set, then rallied to win the next three and defeat Randolph in the Section VI Class D girls volleyball championship game on Monday at Jamestown Community College.

Coach Kelly Unverdorben’s team lost 22-25, before winning 25-15, 25-22 and 25-10 and will move on to the the Far West Regional at 3 p.m. on Saturday against the Section V representative at Pioneer.

Portville defeated Batavia Notre Dame in last year’s regional, then went on to the states at Glens Falls and defeated perennial power Haldane in five sets. The Panther’s Abby Miller was named MVP as a junior. Haldane of Section I (Westchester County) has won four state Class D championships since 1998.

Unverdorben coached Ellicottville to the state championship in 2012. Before last season, Portville’s previous state championship was in 2008.

Pool play in the state championships will be Nov. 21 with the championship finals Nov. 22 in Glens Falls.

Eden, Iroquois win girls volleyball sectionals
Buffalo News Staff
Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Iroquois won the Section VI Class B championship. (@SectionVI photo) 


There’s more than one road to a Section VI title. Just ask the Eden and Iroquois girls volleyball teams.

The Raiders used their usual dominance to add another championship to their already massive collection. The Chiefs did it with surprise after surprise — and a losing record.

Six-time defending state champion Eden had little trouble beating Southwestern, 25-14, 25-17, 25-7, on Monday night in the overall Class C final at Pioneer High School.

No. 10 seed Iroquois (9-11) followed with a 25-14, 25-18, 25-22 sweep of top-seeded and previously unbeaten Maryvale in the Class B final.

On their way to a 16th straight sectional title, the Raiders (30-9-1) didn’t lose a set in four postseason matches.

“We always put a standard of high expectations for every team,” said Eden coach Stephen Pierce. “You could say our expectation is a state championship, but mostly I tell them I want them to train and compete like state champs. If you do that, then hopefully good things happen, and they’re doing that. I was pretty proud of them.”

Junior Sam Burgio tallied 17 kills, while senior Meghan Ballou had 13 kills and four aces to lead the Raiders.

Burgio, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter, was an All-Western New York first-team selection and the MVP of the state tournament last season.

“We’re a lot younger and a lot more inexperienced than we were last year,” she said, “and we have new people in new positions. But they’re coming along well, and we’ve progressed a lot throughout the year.”

Class C-1 champion Eden beat Class C-2 winner Southwestern in a Section VI final for the third straight year.

Senior Sally Rudny recorded eight kills, and junior Sierra Wells had 10 assists for the Trojans (20-3).

In Class B, Iroquois turned around a subpar season for its first Section VI title since 2012, upsetting four higher-seeded teams in the process.

“This is something we’ve been waiting for,” said Chiefs coach Mark Dubel. “At the beginning of the season, we said this was one of our goals, and we knew that we could get it. ... We played a lot of tough teams, and I think it made us stronger over the course of the year.

“We knew we were a better team than the No. 10 seed, and we knew we had it in us. ... This is just a fantastic way to finish.”

Senior Elena Grossman posted a team-high six kills for Iroquois, but it was the Chiefs’ serving that set the tone against Maryvale (17-1).

“We definitely had a rough start to the season, but we just all pulled together,” said senior Michaela Hoeflich, who had six of Iroquois’ 18 aces.

Dubel said, “Throughout the playoffs, we’ve been serving real consistently. We served consistently again tonight. The first two games, we did a real good job.”

Sophomore Julia Carter led Maryvale with six kills.

Iroquois and Eden advance to the Far West Regionals on Thursday at Pioneer, where they will face the Section V (Rochester area) champions. Iroquois will play Honeoye Falls-Lima at 6 p.m. Eden will play LeRoy at 8 p.m.

Vikings hang on to advance to Class B final
BOYS VOLLEYBALL: Lions fall in straight sets to Lancaster

By Derek Wangler derek.wangler@gnnewspapers.com Lockport Union-Sun Journal
Saturday, November 7, 2015

LACKAWANNA — In its win over Hamburg on Saturday, Grand Island built up leads in three of four sets but just couldn’t put the Bulldogs away. Coach Bill Schultz said his top-seeded Vikings can sometimes get in their own way.

“I keep telling these guys, the only team that’s going to stop us this year is ourselves,” Schultz said. “That’s a thing we’ve kind of been doing is giving free points to teams.”

The Vikings beat the Bulldogs in four sets 23-25, 25-22, 27-25, 27-25 in the Class B semifinals at Lackawanna High School. Hamburg was the two-time defending sectional champion and has had its way with Grand Island in the past.

“That’s a big win for us,” Schultz said. “We have not beaten them when we’ve been in this situation a lot ... We had a lot of things to overcome: sprained ankles, people not playing in their exact positions that we talked about — but a good win for us.”

Grand Island has been in the sectional tournament the last five years but was finally able to take the next step in advancing to the sectional championship. In 2013 and 2011, Hamburg knocked the Vikings out of the sectional tournament in the semifinals. Last year, Grand Island lost in the semifinals to perennial contender Eden.

“Grand Island hasn’t been to the finals a long time so it’s good to get there,” said senior outside hitter Kyle Burns. “In the past we’ve gone out in the quarters and semis. This is our year to go far.”

Burns was named to the Niagara Frontier League’s first team last year and has continued his dominant play this season. In Saturday’s match he came up big when the Vikings needed a play time after time.

After dropping the first set, Grand Island led for the majority of the second but allowed Hamburg to hang around and ended up with a tie it at 21. Grand Island was able to get four of the next six points, including an emphatic block by Burns to seal the win.

The third set was a back-and-forth affair as neither team could get more than a four-point advantage throughout. Despite an incredible effort from Dave Pachla and the rest of the Vikings on a 25-24 set point, Hamburg tied it at 25. Grand Island was able to pick up the next point to make it 26-25 before Hamburg drilled a spike into the net to give the Vikings a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth set, Grand Island built up a 19-15 lead but again let the Bulldogs back into it, with ties at 22, 23, 24 and 25. A Hamburg serve went out of bounds to give the Vikings a 26-25 lead. On the next point, Schultz’s big guys came through one last time, forming a wall on the outside and knocking down a Hamburg spike to send GI to the sectional final.

“We haven’t had a big team and this year we have a big team,” Schultz said. “The big blockers help.”

Burns finished with 14 kills, 7 blocks and one ace, Pachla had 11 kills and six blocks while he and libero Brian Wynne gave up their bodies numerous times digging out Hamburg spikes. Senior setter Pat Cramer had a great match as well.

Grand Island will play No. 18 seed Williamsville North at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in the Class B final at Lackawanna. North has been the Cinderella story of the tournament, defeating top seeds Williamsville South and Eden.

Lancaster 3, Lockport 0

The young Lions were just not quite ready for their semifinal match against the Legends. With two freshman, two sophomores and two juniors in their starting lineup, they just need a little more time to mature.

“We’re very streaky and it’s not necessarily that we’re playing bad, the other teams just have more experience,” said coach Liz Smorol. “Hopefully they’ll all train in the offseason and we’re looking forward to next season already.”

Lancaster defeated Lockport in three sets, 25-15, 25-12, 25-13, in the Class A semifinals Saturday at Lackawanna. The loss ends the Lions’ great season where they finished third in the NFL despite a slow start.

After playing Lancaster to a 13-13 tie early on, Lockport started to falter and the Legends took advantage by scoring 12 of the last 14 points in the set to win 25-12. The Legends kept their foot on the gas in the second set and then opened up a 15-1 lead in the third.

“We came out strong and had them on their heels a little,” Smorol said. “Because we’re young and we play to our age, so to speak, our age started to show later in the match."

High School Extra: Williamsville North upsets Eden in boys volleyball championships
Buffalo News Staff
Saturday, November 7, 2015

Williamsville North scored a major upset Saturday, defeating Eden in five sets (24-26, 26-23, 25-23, 17-25 and 25-19) in a Division 2 semifinal match of the Section VI boys volleyball championships at Lackawanna High.

North has never won a sectional title, while Eden has won 27 in the last 37 years. North went into the tournament seeded 18th. Eden, ranked second in the Western New York Coaches’ Poll, was seeded third.

“I think we kind of caught them by surprise,” said North coach Mike Minnuto. The Spartans are a senior-laden team that Minnuto has been bringing along for three seasons but one that hadn’t enjoyed much success playing in the competitive ECIC I.

“Our team is comfortable playing five-game matches,” said Minnuto, whose team advanced to the semifinals with a five-set triumph over Williamsville South and a taut four-set win over West Seneca West.

“I think the reason we won a tough five-set match today is all those five-set matches we lost the last year and a half,” Minnuto said. “Those are character builders. We have six or seven really talented kids, and the biggest thing they’ve developed is confidence, and now it’s showing on the court.”

Senior outside hitter Noah Chojnacki and senior middle hitter Peter Battaglia had 10 kills each. Senior captain Connor Thomas had 15 digs.

Distributing the ball was senior setter Jeremy Shatz. A fifth senior stalwart is outside hitter Ryan Greene.

North will face No. 1 seed Grand Island for the sectional title at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Lackawanna. The Vikings triumphed over two-time defending sectional champion Hamburg in four sets.

Bulldogs JV asserts itself as top team in area
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Hamburg Sun
Saturday, November 7, 2015


Submitted photo The Hamburg JV boys volleyball team had a successful season. Pictured in the front row, from left to right, are Jake Wicher, Spencer Nyhart, Nolan Bacon, Zach Nyhart and coach Kevin Zack. In the back row, from left to right, is Stephen Houghton, John Edie, Ryan Schwanz, Drew Bartello, Stefan Marjonovic, Connor McDonnell, Jake Storey, Will McKeever, Liam McCormick, Bo Johnson, Brandon Kupple, Matt Wheaton, Aidan Stormer and Nick Ranger.


The Hamburg High JV boys volleyball team emerged victorious in the first annual Western New York JV Volleyball Championships Oct. 24 at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center in West Seneca. 

Organized by Eden varsity boys volleyball coach Robert Pierce, the event featured 24 teams, mostly from across WNY, with one from Oswego. 

The Bulldogs defeated the Canisius, 15-4, in Game Three of a best-of-three finals format to secure the title and assert themselves as the best JV team in WNY. 

It was the third time Hamburg squared off with Canisius in a tournament final this year, with the teams splitting the first two decisions. Hamburg settled the tie in dominating fashion to win this inaugural championship event. 

Proceeds from the event were donated to Spiking for Autism, a charity organized by Matt Anderson, a WNY native who played volleyball for West Seneca West and won a national championship with Penn State. Anderson is currently a member of the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team.

Canisius volleyball caps perfect season; St. Mary’s reigns
Buffalo News Staff
Saturday, November 7, 2015

After posing for a photo with the championship plaque, the Canisius High School boys volleyball team joined its student section for a cheer.

“I believe that we have won!” they yelled repeatedly in unison on the court at Cardinal O’Hara.

It was an especially fitting celebration. This fall, all the Crusaders did was win.

Canisius completed a perfect season, handling St. Francis on Friday night for its 16th straight Monsignor Martin Association title.

The Crusaders swept the Red Raiders, 25-15, 25-14, 25-17, to finish the year 34-0.

“This has been a remarkable season,” said Canisius coach Tom Weislo. “There’s been some really good teams over the years in Western New York, but this has to be among the top two or three, for sure, of all time.”

Earlier Friday, defending Catholic state champion St. Mary’s of Lancaster rallied past Nardin, 16-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-13, for the Monsignor Martin girls title.

The undefeated season is the first for Canisius, the top team in the Western New York Coaches Poll all year.

“We were thinking about it all year,” said junior Griffin Schmit, who had 13 kills. “We have a lot of fun in practice, we get along really well, and we have a really talented group of guys. It’s just fun to be a part of.”

Junior Devin Joslyn posted 14 kills, senior Charles Desmond finished with 35 assists, and senior Charles Hart had six blocks for the Crusaders, who swept St. Francis (9-11) for the third time this season.

Keeping its streak of Monsignor Martin titles alive is an annual goal for Canisius.

“It’s kind of become part of our culture,” Weislo said. “The guys talk about it, they work all season long … because nobody ever wants to be on the team that breaks the streak.”

While Canisius’ season ends, St. Mary’s moves on to the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association tournament next Saturday at St. Anthony’s High School on Long Island, seeking its fourth title in five years.

“We’re going for our 15th state title” overall, said Lancers coach Don Pieczynski. “That’s always the goal. I was telling the kids, everything else is great, it’s small potatoes. Obviously it starts with winning the league … but our ultimate goal is to win states every year. It’s a big prize. We aim high.”

Down one set Friday, and with the opposition’s student section in a frenzy, St. Mary’s embraced the pressure.

“One of my mantras is the team that wins the battle of adversity is going to win their share of games,” Pieczynski said. “I’m so proud of the kids with the way they bounced back.”

Senior Bailey Dolegowski – the Monsignor Martin MVP – recorded 33 assists and 17 digs, while sophomore Summer Slade pounded out 19 kills to lead St. Mary’s (39-6-3).

Senior Emily Rand led the Gators (11-5) with 25 kills, four aces and 11 digs.

WKBW Super 7
#5 – Joe Zanelotti, Williamsville South Volleyball
WKBW.com Nick Filipowski
Friday, November 6, 2015


#5 – Joe Zanelotti, Williamsville South Volleyball
Set four new school records for the Billies including season and career assists, aces and kills.

“Joe is a smart hitter and although he can swing hard he also uses his smarts to place the ball into openings on the opponent’s court. Joe has been a varsity player for 5 years and captain for his junior and senior years. Joe is an incredibly skilled and intelligent player and truly one of the best, if not the best I have ever coached in my 32 year career.” – Thom Knab, Head Coach

Power outage of no concern to Hamburg in 2015
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Friday, November 6, 2015


Hamburg_Block_2015 Hamburg High School’s Alex Andrzejewski (8) and Jack Lillin (3) block a spike attempt against Lan- caster recently. Photo / Dave Eckhardt

This year, when the Hamburg High boys volleyball team would take on fellow ECIC I program Lancaster, Bulldogs coach Brian Carroll felt his squad was disadvantaged in one area. 

“We don’t have the power hitters other teams have,” Carroll said. “Lancaster’s fourth guy hits more powerfully than our best guy.”

In one particular match this season against the Legends, that dynamic didn’t have much of an effect. Hamburg lost in four games, yes, but all three of them needed at least 25 points. While Lancaster, the defending Section VI Division I champion, owned a seemingly decisive edge, Hamburg made the match nearly even, and not one bit lopsided.

“We have a game where we can match other teams,” Carroll said. 

Hamburg just had to spend some time finding that game. 

With the Section VI Division II postseason getting underway just before press time, the Bulldogs are the team to dethrone as they entered as back-to-back sectional champions. 

It’s a new look compared to last fall, though. All of 2014’s starters graduated with the exception of standout setter Ryan Dils, a senior. 

Despite the experience and height that was lost, the Bulldogs reshuffled and found a new style. One that’s productive. Hamburg, which plays an ECIC I regular-season schedule with larger schools, finished 5-7 in the league and entered the Division II playoffs as the 13th-seed. 

The Bulldogs downed Holland in the playoff qualifiers Friday (Oct. 30) and took on fourth-seeded North Tonawanda in the prequarterfinals Tuesday (Nov. 3) but the result wasn’t available at press time. 

Carroll said that down the stretch Hamburg’s passing and defense began thriving, and that formed the team’s identity. When those two phases are clicking, Hamburg will be a tough out. 

“They have an identity now and they’re not worried about finding that — they know what they are,” Carroll said. “We’ve been steady the whole season. I think a lot of teams had their best match of the season against us. That’s a compliment because we play such a good game consistently.”

The Bulldogs have been at their best the last month, starting with a win at Frontier in early October, Carroll said. Since then, Hamburg has trotted out a lineup that’s produced results.

“That was pretty much our entry into what we’ve been the second half of the season,” Carroll said of the Frontier tilt. “That was just the showcase where I could say, ‘Hamburg is back.’”

Dils’ pinpoint accuracy at setter has taken a lot of pressure off the hitters, Carroll said. The senior has run the Bulldogs’ offense smoothly.

“Our scrappiness, that’s definitely our motto,” Dils said. “We’re not that powerful team that we were last year.”

Marcus Wloch and Jacob Couzens give Hamburg size in the middle. They’re both 6-foot-5. 

Jack Lillin, the 6-foot-4 senior, is solid in the middle, too, while senior Austin O’Shei’s switch from the right side to left side has been beneficial for him and the team. Junior Alex Andrzejewski has found comfort playing right side. 

Jon Gordner’s emergence in 2015 has made a huge difference, too. Gordner was a JV call-up for the 2014 playoffs and he proved he could handle the spotlight by registering five kills in the sectional final — his first varsity action ever. 

Gordner, a junior outside hitter, rolled that right into this fall. Carroll called the junior perhaps the team’s most well-rounded player and definitely the team’s most improved. 

“Knowing I can do what I did last season, and even surpass that, I try harder every day in practice,” Gordner said. “A lot of it is remembering what we did last year. Remembering how we jelled as a team. Considering we have a lot of young talent I think we’ve worked well together. We’ve kept the ball alive.”

From the start, Carroll knew this could be a team that keeps the ball alive, even though he had a cast of first-year starters. The coach didn’t worry about the perception that Hamburg might experience a setback.

“I looked at the guys the first day of practice and said, ‘We have a good team. Don’t you worry about what we’re not, let’s focus on what we are,’” Carroll said. 

“I’ve been coaching a long time and honestly this is one of my favorite teams ever. They have each other’s backs and that’s why they’re as good as they are.”


Not only is Hamburg’s varsity well-off right now, the future looks bright, the foundation sturdy. 

The Hamburg JV boys volleyball team had a prosperous season, which concluded with a victory in the first-ever Western New York JV Volleyball Championships Oct. 24 at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center in West Seneca. The 24-team tournament featured the premier squads in the area, with the Bulldogs prevailing as king of it. 

Hamburg downed Canisius in the finals of the best-of-the-best tourney. That win came a week after the Bulldogs made a statement by defeating that same Canisius team, a perennial power, both on JV and varsity, in the championship of their own tournament. 

Two weeks, two big tournament victories, and the distinction of the area’s top JV team in 2015. 

“We’re never rebuilding, we’re always kind of reloading,” second-year Hamburg JV coach Kevin Zack said. “The JV guys scrimmage a lot with varsity to get them up to varsity speed. (Carroll) demands a lot but the kids see how much he puts in so they just give it back. It’s a program thing.”

Both title-match wins against the Crusaders went the full three games. 

“It was a thrilling match,” Zack said of the finals of the Hamburg tournament. “The kids were down a handful of times in that last game by four points and in a 15-point game that’s tough to overcome. But they pulled it off.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

Volleyball Lions earn VI victory
Schneider, Denniston and Donorovich lead the way over Niagara Falls

Lockport Union- Sun Journal, BY JOHN D'ONOFRIO john.donofrio@lockportjournal.com

Friday, November 6, 2015


Lockport High School sophomore Zach Schneider goes up for a jump serve during Thursday’s Section VI Class A boys volleyball quarterfinal match against visiting Niagara Falls. Schneider posted 15 kills and five aces as head coach Liz Smorol’s No. 2-seeded Lions swept the visiting Wolverines, 3-0. JOED VIERA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER


If you needed any reminders about the importance of feeder sports programs in this community, then you should have been at Thursday night's Section VI Class A boys volleyball quarterfinal at Lockport High School.

A well-coached, unselfish team with depth, head coach Liz Smorol's No. 2-seeded, young and restless Lockport Lions out-served, out-passed and out-lasted the visiting No. 7 Wolverines in straight sets, 25-21, 26-24, 25-18.

With the victory before a large crowd in the LHS gym, the Lions improved to 10-5 overall this season. 

“It was great to get this win — this is my first varsity sectional win. I've watched my brother for years, but this is my first time experiencing it myself,” said LHS freshman Zach Schneider, one of several LHS products of the Lockport Boys Club Volleyball program, run by his father, Tom.

Zach led the blue and gold with 15 kills, 5 aces and 3 digs, most importantly getting big points at key moments throughout — both at the service line and at the net.

But Lockport shared the wealth throughout and a number of other players had big nights in a variety of ways, including the big man, sophomore Jesse Donorovich, who added 11 kills, 2 aces and numerous assists.

With Lockport's outstanding, all-around freshman talent Sean Denniston (4 kills, 20 assists, 4 aces, 5 digs) and senior Magnus Cleveland (6 digs, 3 aces) serving to open the match, the home team built a quick 7-1 lead. Schneider stepped to the line and jump-served his way to a 10-2 Lions lead.

Kills by Lions junior Treston White (4 kills) and crafty sophomore Marc Bixby (5 kills, 15 assists, 1 ace, 7 digs) helped close out the first game, capped by a Schneider rocket from the service line that closed it out officially, 25-21. Bixby made several big plays throughout, repeatedly making the correct choice to stay away from shots near the line, allowing them to sail out-of-bounds.

“I thought we played well in the first game and we passed well,” Donorovich said.

Lockport senior Josh Wojcinski (2 kills, 2 digs) made a diving miracle save to open the second game, but the Wolverines, led by junior Charles Lamar (10 kills, 5 blocks), eventually won that point and quickly built leads of 2-0 and 5-2 before the sleeping Lions awoke from their slumber with four straight points to take a 6-5 lead.

Trailing the Falls 20-19, the Lions got good serving from Cleveland throughout game two and out-scored Niagara Falls 7-4 the rest of the way to win it, 26-24. Tied 24-24, Denniston set up Bixby for a monster smash, then Schneider closed out his second straight game with another jump serve bullet from the rafters.

“We did some things well, but we can definitely play better,” Denniston said. “Playing boys club volleyball has sure helped all of us serve better, pass better and work together better.”

The Falls seemed to let up in intensity in game three and the Lions coasted to wrap up the best-of-five match in three straight games.

Denniston set up Donorovich for a thunderous kill that made it 5-2 early on. Moments later, Lions junior Noah Mullane (2 kills, 2 blocks) came up with a big block in the middle that resulted in a point that made it 14-8 as the Lions started pulling away.

Donorovich and Schneider served a few more missiles before Cleveland closed out the match from the service line.

Next up, the high-flying Lions will take on No. 3-seeded Lancaster at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Lackawanna High School in a Class A semifinal match.

Contact US&J Sports Editor John D'Onofrio at 439-9222 Ext. 6247.

High School Extra (Nov. 5): Eden boys advance
Buffalo News

Friday, November 6, 2015

Eden has won 27 Section VI boys volleyball championships in the last 37 years, and the Raiders are alive for No. 28 and their first since 2010.

Eden swept three sets to get past Williamsville East Thursday night in the Division 2 quarterfinals, 25-18, 25-20 and 25-11. Jesse Brockman led Eden with eight kills and two blocks. Calvin Nowicki had 33 assists and six aces.

The Raiders will face Williamsville North in the semifinals on Saturday at Lackawanna. The other Division 2 semifinal on Saturday will have two-time defending sectional champion Hamburg facing No. 1 seed Grand Island, which defeated Starpoint, 25-14, 25-12, 25-13. Kyle Burns had 10 kills and five aces for GI. 25-13. Hamburg defeated West Seneca East, 25-17, 25-20 and 25-12 as Ryan Dils led the Bulldogs with 39 assists.

In Division I, No. 1 seed Orchard Park will face Clarence at Lackawanna on Saturday. No. 5 seed Clarence advanced by defeating No. 4 Kenmore West, 25-21, 25-20 and 25-11 as Henry Payne led the way with 27 kills.

The other quarterfinals: No. 2 Lockport swept Niagara Falls, 25-21, 26-24 and 25-18, as Sean Denniston had 20 assists and five aces. Connor Schultz led the defense with seven blocks and Jay Baumann had four service aces in No. 3 Lancaster’s triumph over Frontier, 25-15, 25-16 and 25-19.

High School Extra (Nov. 5): Will East, Sweet Home advance in volleyball
Buffalo News

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Will East, Sweet Home win

Williamsville East advanced to the Class A girls’ volleyball finals with a three-game win over Niagara-Wheatfield. Carly Shifflet had 16 kills and 17 digs in the win while Lexi Novack had 14 kills. Undefeated Williamsville East (18-0) will face Sweet Home for the sectional title. The Panthers advanced to the final with a three-game sweep over Williamsville South. Sweet Home was led by Rachel Reusch who had 22 kills and Claire Hiwiller had 24 assists for the Panthers (12-5).

Jonathan paces Akron

Akron needed four games, but the Tigers came away with a 25-7, 25-14, 23-25, 25-8 win over Fredonia in Class C-1. Taylor Jonathan had 12 aces and 14 digs for Akron (14-2), which will meet Eden in the finals. Sam Burgio had 13 kills and six aces and Meghan Ballou had 11 kills as Eden beat City Honors in straight games.

Clarence, Lancaster advance

Lancaster and Clarence won their semifinal matches in straight games to meet in the Class AA final. Alyssa Babinger had 11 kills and Jenna Patterson six aces as Lancaster defeated Frontier while Meghan Neelon had nine kills and seven digs for Clarence (21-2) while Karley King had eight kills and four aces in a win over Jamestown.

St. Mary’s rolls to finals

St. Mary’s/Lancaster continued its winning streak with a 25-10, 25-19, 25-18 win over Immaculata in the Monsignor Martin volleyball semifinals. Summer Slade had 19 kills for St. Mary’s (11-0) while Bailey Dolegowski had 30 assists.

Maryvale undefeated

Brianna Henry had 11 kills and Michelle Richardson had 20 assists to help Maryvale to a four-game win over Cheektowaga in Class B. The Flyers (17-0) will meet Iroquois in the finals after the Chiefs defeated Starpoint in three games. Elena Grossman had 15 kills for Iroquois (8-11).

Quakers earn top seed in boys volleyball playoffs
Orchard Park Bee
Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Orchard Park boys volleyball team will begin the Section VI Division I playoffs Saturday after playing well enough to earn the top seed in the tournament.

The Quakers earned a by in the first round and will play the winner of Kenmore west and Clarence 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Lackawanna High School.

The girls season ended prematurely as they were upset by Frontier Monday.

The Lady Quakers lost in straight games, losing by a scores of 26-24, 25-23 and 25-22.

The Lady Quakers earned the third seed in the Class AA tournament.

Frontier moved on to play Lancaster Wednesday.

South splits non-league matches
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Williamsville South’s boys volleyball team split its final games of the regular season, beating Lockport, 20-25, 25-19, 25-11, 25-21, Oct. 27 and losing to Clarence, 21-25, 23-25, 26-24, 22-25, Wednesday, Oct. 28.

Joe Zanelotti led the Billies against Clarence with 26 kills and seven aces.

“Joe played a really smart game as far as where he wanted to put the ball,” South coach Thom Knab said. “He got several kills by putting balls into the middle of the court.”

Zanelotti holds single-season school records for kills (398) and aces (92) and also holds the single season records for assists.

Shawn Barbalato added six kills and four blocks and Sean Brown contributed three blocks.

Zanelotti (21 kills, 4 aces) and Barbalato (11 kills, 7 blocks) led the Billies’ offense against Clarence.

“It was a tight match,” Knab said. “They made a few less errors and put up one or more blocks than us in each game.”

South (16-4), seeded second, hosted 18th seed Williamsville North in a Class B prequarterfinal Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

Williamsville North

South’s opponent for the Class B prequarterfinals is seeded 18th, but is not indicative of how well the Spartans played throughout the season.

“We’re a solid team,” North coach Mike Minnuto said. “We won one league match [in ECIC I] but lost a lot of sets in five. We went 5-0 in our non-league matches and did not drop one game.”

North downed Niagara-Wheatfield, 25-11, 25-11, 25-7, in the Class B first-round match Friday. Senior outside hitter Noah Chojnacki led the offense with 15 kills.

North went 8-0 in pool play at the Grand Island Tournament Oct. 25 and beat Williamsville East and Williamsville South and then lost to North Tonawanda in three sets in the quarterfinals. Chojnacki was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Minnuto also noted the play of senior right side hitter Connor Thomas (leads team in digs and blocks), senior setter Jeremy Schatz (averages 20 to 30 assists a game), senior Peter Battaglia and freshman Adam Gulick at middle hitter, senior outside hitter Ryan Greene and sophomore libero Joe Battaglia.

Postek leads South girls volleyball to Class A semifinal
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Melissa Postek was at her best in the Williamsville South girls volleyball team’s 25-20, 25-20, 28-26 Section VI Class A quarterfinal road win over Grand Island Monday.

The senior outside hitter recorded 30 kills, two aces and five digs in the victory.

“She was the difference,” South coach Tom Sproull said. “Grand Island did not have an answer for her, especially when she was in the front row. It was one of her best performances.”

Brianna Neeley added seven kills and three blocks. Anna Hoffman supplied 23 digs.

Setters Kelsey Stasiak (20 assists), Jenna Wild (15 assists) and Haley Marchewka (5 assists) combined to run the offense.

The Lady Billies opened its playoff run with a five-set win over 12th seed West Seneca West Thursday.

South won the first two sets, 25-6, 25-9, lost games three and four, 17-25, 20-25, and trailed 5-0 in the fifth set 5-0 before rallying for a 25-17 win.

“They took their foot off the gas,” Sproull said. “West Seneca got more confidence and we lost our confidence. In the fifth game, I told them to go back and play your game. We weren’t giving away as many unforced errors as we did in games three and four. We were locking our serves back in and stopped hitting balls out of bounds. As much as I hated what happened, the fact they came out on top, these are the moments that propel you to do things that maybe would not have happened before.”

Postek, who cut her chin diving for a ball on the wooden floor late in the fourth game, returned in the fifth game and recorded six kills. She finished the match with 19 kills and 15 digs.

Stasiak added six kills and 25 assists, Hoffman recorded 18 digs, and Neeley recorded nine kills and three blocks.

South, seeded fifth, hosts eighth seed Sweet Home, which upset top seed Kenmore West, in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Lady Spartans bounce back to beat Olean
VI PLAYOFFS: Lady Spartans will host Iroquois in sectional Class B semifinal Thursday

Lockport Union- Sun Journal, Staff Reports

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

PENDLETON — The Starpoint Lady Spartans posted a four-set victory over visiting Olean on Monday in a Section VI Class B girls volleyball qiarterfinal contest.

The scores were 14-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-18. With the win, the No. 6-seeded Lady Spartans improved to 10-8 on the season.

Erica Bradley led the winners with 7 kills and 7 blocks. Olivia Schoenfeld had 15 assists and Meagan Welch added 14 kills to go with 34 digs.

Next up for the Lady Spartans is a Class B semifinal match at 6 p.m. Thursday against visiting No. 10-ranked Iroquois. Thursday’s other Class B semifinal pits No. 5 Cheektowaga at top-seeded Maryvale.

for the No. 6 Spartans, who came back after dropping the first set to beat the No. 14 Huskies on Monday in the Class B quarterfinals, 14-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-18. Olivia Schoenfeld added 24 assists and four aces and Erica Bradley chipped in 10 kills for Starpoint, which hosts No. 10 Iroquois in the semis at 6 p.m tonight.

8-Sweet Home 3, 1-Ken West 0

The Panthers upset the NFL-champion and top-seeded Lady Blue Devils on Monday in the Class A quarterfinals, 25-19, 25-16, 25-23.

Rachel Reusch had 26 kills, two blocks and 10 digs for No. 8 Sweet Home. Dana Mancuso had 11 kills, two aces and a block for KW while Abby Borkowski chipped in seven kills and 12 digs.

Kali Yeates had 11 kills, 10 digs and five aces and was nearly matched by Kalie Sonnenberg’s 10 kills, 11 digs and four aces for the third-seeded Falcons, who took down No. 6 Tech 25-14, 25-27, 25-10, 25-22 on Monday in the Class A quarterfinals.

N-W travels to No. 2 Will. East at 6 p.m. today for the semis.


1-Grand Island 3, 16-Iroquois 0

Pat Cramer dished 35 assists Tuesday for the top-seeded Vikings, who handled No. 16 Iroquois in the Class B pre-quarterfinals.

Next up, the Vikings hosts No. 9 Starpoint at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Class B boys volleyball quarterfinals.

9-Starpoint 3, 8-Amherst 0

Derek Klemer had 28 assists and Campbell Schoenfeld notched 10 kills for the No. 9 Spartans, who won their Class B pre-quarterfinal match Monday 2-18, 25-19, 27-25.

Starpoint travels to top-seeded Grand Island at 6 p.m. Thursday for the quarterfinals.

East volleyball downs Clarence in showdown of division champs
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

In one of the most highly anticipated girls volleyball matches of the year, Williamsville East beat Clarence, 25-18, 23-25, 25-12, 25-21 Oct. 26.

The Lady Flames improved to 15-0 while Clarence fell to 15-1.

“When we made our non-league schedule, we tried to pick what I thought was the toughest teams because we want to play against the best,” East coach Scott Wright said. “We jumped on them early and played good in the first set, they played good in the second set, and our defense carried us through the rest of the match.”

East was led by senior Carly Shifflet with 21 kills and 19 digs and junior Lexi Novak with 14 kills and 13 digs.

Senior libero Sam Mendelsohn anchored the defense with 29 digs.

Sophomore Makayla Greenfield posted 41 assists and 6 blocks.

Junior Leah Orsini contributed six kills and eight blocks.

East won the first seven points of the first set behind multiple blocks from Orsini and Greenfield, and two kills from Orsini. Clarence fought back and closed the gap to 10-7.

Kills from Shifflet, Novak and Allison Jozwiak, along with an ace from Mendelsohn, extended East’s lead to 17-11.

The Lady Flames remained in control to win the first set with the final point coming on a block from Novak and Jozwiak.

Clarence started the second set strong, taking a 9-3 lead. East got no closer than five points and found themselves behind 19-12.

The Lady Flames staged a late rally, winning six of the next eight points, including kills from Novak, Shifflet and freshman Rachel Steffan, cutting the lead to 21-18.

East trailed 22-21 and 23-22 but could not get any closer.

The third set was close to start but East gradually built an 11-8 lead. Shifflet went on a seven point serving run, which included two Novak kills, to extend the lead to 18-8. East closed out the set 25-12.

In the fourth set, Clarence took an early 8-6 lead and East won the next five points behind two kills from Novak and one from Orsini.

Two kills from Shifflet extended the lead to 17-12 before Clarence won the next three points, narrowing the lead to 17-15. A kill to Novak and an ace to Mendelsohn, gave East a 22-16 lead.

Clarence got no closer than three and a final kill from Shifflet won the set.

East closed out the regular season with a 25-15, 25-5, 25-15 victory over Williamsville North Wednesday, completing the regular season undefeated for the first time in school history.

Including tournament play, East finished 34-1 and won 85 of 90 sets.

“The team wants to win,” Wright said. “It’s fun to watch as a coach how much effort and pride they have.”

East was led by Novak (10 kills, 10 digs), Shifflet (7 kills, 5 digs), Mendelsohn (14 digs, 5 aces), Greenfield (20 assists, 9 digs), Orsini (3 kills, 3 blocks), Steffan (3 kills, 4 digs), Jozwiak (kill, block), Julianna Benz (2 assists, 3 digs), and Megan Wiese (6 digs).

Prior to the match, East honored its senior captains Shifflet and Mendelsohn, along with exchange student Chiara Munzi.

East beat Hamburg in the Section VI Class A quarterfinals Monday, but further information about the match was unavailable before press time.

They host Niagara-Wheatfield in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

East boys volleyball places fourth at GI Tourney
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Williamsville East’s boys volleyball capped off a successful regular season by placing fourth out of 12 teams at the Grand Island Tournament Oct. 25.

The Flames were undermanned and only dressed seven players as starting middle hitter Alex Grano did not play due to an illness.

Senior Mike Shanahan played in place of Grano at middle hitter, junior Erik Regan was placed at weak side hitter and senior Jake Weissert was moved to outside hitter.

East coach Mike Braunscheidel said the seven players who did play exerted a lot of energy.

“I was pleased with how we played throughout the day,” Braunscheidel said. “We were scrappy on defense and not many balls hit the floor.”

“I think the team battled hard the whole day despite playing some tough teams,” sophomore outside hitter Drew Elliott said. “We really stuck together and tried to play our game throughout the tournament.”

The Flames went 4-2 in pool play, beating West Seneca East, 25-16, 25-20, and Niagara Falls, 32-30, 25-21, and losing to Grand Island, 17-25, 20-25.

East was then placed in a bracket with Williamsville South and Williamsville North. East beat South, 25-23, its first win over the Billies in over two years, and lost to North, 16-25.

“We were down one of our best players for the whole tournament, but the whole team stepped up when called upon to beat crosstown rival South and it was a great feeling,” Shanahan said. “Down a player, we knew it would be tough, but everyone did their job and played great.”

East ran out of steam in the quarterfinals, losing to Grand Island, 14-25, 14-25.

Junior setter Sam Schatmeyer was named to the All-Tournament Team.

“It felt amazing to be recognized, I felt like I had played well all day and the plaque was the icing on the cake,” Schatmeyer said. “Overall it was an amazing day for the team.”

“It was nice to see Sam get rewarded as well,” Braunscheidel said. “He had been working really hard at setting and running an offense.”

Braunscheidel also said Elliott was close to making the All-Tournament Team.

“When we needed a go-to point, Drew was there and most often delivered for us,” he said. “He has been gaining confidence all year and it was nice to see him put it all together in a tournament.”

East (14-4) hosted Lake Shore in a Section VI Class B prequarterfinal Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

Sweet Home wins; North, Amherst bow out in prequarters
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Eighth-seeded Sweet Home downed ninth-seeded North Tonawanda, 25-16, 25-14, 25-18, in the Section VI Class A girls volleyball prequarterfinals Thursday.

Rachel Reusch led the offense with 21 kills, three blocks and three digs.

Claire Hiwiller distributed 32 assists and also recorded three kills, six aces and six digs. Tirzah Peters chipped in seven kills.

“Overall, we played at a fast tempo offensively and made it difficult for NT to run their offense because of the way we were terminating the ball,” Sweet Home coach Breean Martin said.

Sweet Home defeated top seed Kenmore West in the Class A quarterfinals Monday, but further information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Williamsville South for a semifinal match Wednesday.

Williamsville North

The Lady Spartans’ season came to an end against Hamburg, 17-25, 19-25, 22-25, in the Class A prequarterfinals Thursday.

Senior Elise Hopkins recorded 20 kills. Senior Noelle Gulick posted seven kills. Freshman Abby Vincent handed out 34 assists.

“We didn’t pick up their tips and roll shots,” North coach Keith Hopkins said.

North won its final ECIC I match of the regular season, beating Frontier, 25-17, 25-15, 25-23, Oct. 26. North’s league record was 4-10.

Gulick had 10 kills, seniors Elise Hopkins and Lauren Curtis each had nine kills, senior Laura Saturino handed out 19 assists and senior Riley Crage posted 17 digs.

Other seniors honored were Olivia Fitzpatrick, Adrianna Soucey and Shannon Kelley.

North also lost a non-league match against Williamsville East, 15-25, 5-25, 16-25, Oct. 27.

North finished 12-16-1. Elise Hopkins, Gulick and Curtis are three-year starters.


The Lady Tigers’ season came to an end with a 10-25, 11-25, 20-25 loss against Albion in the Section VI Class B prequarterfinals Thursday.

Contributing for the Lady Tigers were senior Gabby Lasher (2 aces, 3 digs), junior Mykela Moore (ace, 3 kills, block, dig), sophomores Hannah Bardeen (3 digs, blocks), Carolina Seaner (6 blocks), and Elizabeth Hall (dig), and freshmen Erica Norris (12 digs) and Maddie Jorgensen (3 assists, ace).

Amherst finished 1-11 in ECIC III and 2-14 overall.

For the season, Lasher led the team in kills (48) and digs (145). Bardeen led the team with 37 aces and Mia Ciccarella led the team with 92 assists. Norris was second on the team in digs with 138.

All but two players, Lasher and Mykayla Harber, will be returning next year.

“I am hoping to run a large number of open gyms during the offseason as well as preseason work outs for the girls over the summer,” Amherst coach Rachel Schepart said. “I have confidence that the girls will work better together as a team and improve their skills during the offseason. I am extremely proud of the girls for putting forth their best effort this season and am looking forward to coaching them again next year. The underclassmen did an amazing job for their first year on the varsity team and I am confident that their skill and ability will only improve for the following years.”

Clarence Boys volleyball posts split in final playoff tune-ups
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Clarence’s boys volleyball team took on two of the tougher opponents around last week in a final push to be as prepared as possible for the upcoming Section VI playoffs.

The Red Devils opened their final run October 27 by facing Canisius, a team coach Kevin Starr called “unquestionably the best team in Western New York — and probably in the entire state.” In the end, Clarence fell by 25-16, 25-18, 25-23 scores. Henry Payne again led the way with 20 kills in 40 attempts for the Red Devils, which is right around the .501 hitting percentage that he’s compiled for the season.

“For Henry to hit that well against such a strong team further cements his status as a legitimate NCAA Division I recruit — and he’s already getting some very serious looks from big-time college programs,” Starr said. “The best thing about this match was that the guys truly believed that they could give Canisius a battle. That’s a great mindset for us to have heading into the playoffs.

“Canisius has barely been tested this year, that’s how strong they are, but we were competitive, especially in the third set. They just have too many weapons.”

Clarence took what it learned in the Canisius match and applied it against Williamsville South the next afternoon. The Red Devils showed how much those lessons made a difference in taking out the undefeated Division II champions by 25-21, 25-23, 24-26, 25-22 marks.

Clarence kicked up its blocker per set average from 1.2 to 2.5 on the night, with Nick Ciraolo closing out the match for the Red Devils with a giant block against South’s top hitter. The Red Devils also nearly doubled their digs per set average, jumping from 7.8 digs per set to nearly 14 digs per set.

Payne had another outstanding night with 32 kills, while Ben Janzow added 15 kills and 15 digs. Setter Dalton Squires had 47 assists, while libero Teddy Payne had 12 digs.

“South is very strong,” Starr said. “We scheduled them just prior to sectionals knowing that the match would be a great one, and the scores show how closely contested it was. South has two strong hitters and some good size at the net, so we knew we had to be on our game defensively. Clearly, our defense came up big against a quality opponent.”

Fifth-seeded Clarence kicks off its Class A playoff run at 6 p.m. Thursday when it travels to fourth-seeded Kenmore West. The winner moves on to face top-seeded Orchard Park at Lackawanna at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

St. Ben’s girls volleyball team finishes season with win
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, November 4, 2015


St. Benedict School’s girls volleyball team finished up its season with a win over Northern Chautauqua Catholic School. Members of the team include, from left: first row — Gianna Locicero, Emily Fisher, Azzure Butler, Gretchen Gwitt, Julianna Ducato. Missing Makayla Cecchini; second row — Coach Laurie Wojtaszczyk, Nicole Curto, Alice Falkowski, Courtney McClaney, Brianna Perez, Abby Ruggiero and Emma Fenwick.


St. Benedict School’s varsity girls volleyball team finished its season with a huge win over Northern Chautauqua Catholic School.

Alice Falkowski brought the match win home by serving nine points in a row.

Azzure Butler served the winning point in the second game of the match.

Gianna Locicero and Nicole Curto had impressive plays over the net, leaving the opponents scrambling.

Gretchen Gwitt and Juliana Ducato ran and dove to make outstanding saves.

Hamburg pulls surprise
Buffalo News
Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Hamburg boys volleyball team hopes it is peaking at just the right time.

The Bulldogs, seeded 13th in the Class B Sectionals, swept past No. 4 North Tonawanda in early round play on Tuesday night. Hamburg moved on to the quarterfinals.

“We’ve played pretty well all season,” coach Brian Carroll said. “We’ve gone five games with a lot of teams, and we have some kids who are coming into their own right now.”

One of those players is freshman Jacob Couzens, who has gained a great deal of experience during the course of the season. But players such as Couzens have had some help from the team’s leader.

“The big difference is our senior center, Ryan Dils,” Carroll said. “He’s taken a team filled with first-year varsity players, and really made it his team. He’s the glue that holds it together.”

Elsewhere, No. 18 Williamsville North shocked second-seeded Williamsville South in five sets.

“We play a tough schedule every year,” Spartans coach Mike Minnuto said. “We’re 18th ranked, but I know we’re better than that. Williamsville South played very well. They’re very sound. We’ve played a lot of close games with teams like Orchard Park and Lancaster, and tonight we won one.” Williamsville South senior Joe Zanelotti posted 38 kills, 7 aces in the loss.  

Crusaders sweep Marauders

In the Msgr. Martin Association, Canisius took care of business with a straight-set win over St. Joe’s in the semifinals of boys volleyball.

“It’s always fun to play St. Joe’s,” said Crusaders coach Tom Weislo.

Canisius is ranked first among large schools through Western New York, and played like it on Tuesday. Chas Palka had 17 kills for the winners.

“We had some ebbs and flows, but by and large we played well,” Weislo said. “Our guys seem to be pretty focused right now.”

Next up is St. Francis, which knocked off St. Mary’s of Lancaster in the other semifinal. All three games were decided by two points.

Western New York 2015 Boys Top 10 Poll - 11/3/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS
1. Canisius (12) 120
2. Eden 108
3. Orchard Park 96
4. Lancaster 84
5. Hamburg 58
6. West Seneca West 51
7. Clarence 50
8. Frontier 49
9. Grand Island 31
10. Williamsville South 6


Western New York 2015 Girls Top 10 Poll - 11/3/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Williamsville East (8) 80
2. Clarence 72
3. Lancaster 64
4. Orchard Park 50
5. Hamburg 44
6. Kenmore West 36
7. Williamsville South 29
8. Niagara Wheatfield 28
9. Sweet Home 16
10. Grand Island 15
Also receiving votes: Jamestown, West Seneca West.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60
2. Eden 54
3. Portville 48
4. Panama 40
5. Albion 31
6. City Honors 28
7. North Collins 20
8. Southwestern 19
9. Nardin 13
T-10. Randolph 10
T-10. Chautauqua Lake 10
Also receiving votes: Falconer, Maryvale, Sacred Heart and Immaculata.

Sweet Home surprises Kenmore West in girls volleyball
Buffalo News
Monday, November 2, 2015

Sweet Home pulls big upset

The brackets in the Class A Sectional girls volleyball tournament became a little busted on Monday night. That’s what happens when a No. 8 seed knocks off a No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals.

Sweet Home recorded the upset. The Panthers defeated Kenmore West in three sets.

“Kenmore West has been a very good team, very strong,” Breean Martin, the coach of Sweet Home, said. “We have met up with them before, and I knew it could come up either way.

“We controlled the tempo. We served well, we passed well. They don’t match up well with us in the middle, and we controlled the tempo. We took control of the first two sets. In the third game, they took control to take a 12-5 lead, but we came back and finally tied it at 19-all.”

Claire Hiwiller had 29 assists and 12 digs in the match, while Rachel Reusch supplied 26 kills and 10 digs.

“Rachel is our go-to player,” Martin said. “She’s dominating. She knows the game, and she’s so powerful. You give her the ball, and she puts it away.”

Next up is Williamsville South, a winner over Grand Island on Monday. The semifinal match will be Wednesday.

There were other upsets, and one of the biggest was in Class B. There, No. 10 Iroquois knocked off second-seeded Albion in four sets. The Purple Eagles had been unbeaten entering the game. The list also includes a Class C-1 win by seventh-seeded Fredonia over No. 2 Lafayette in three sets.

In Class AA, third-seeded Orchard Park was surprised by No. 6 Frontier in three close sets. The Falcons improved to 5-11 for the season.

“When we play our game and have confidence, good things happen,” coach Debbie Schruefer said. “We were struggling in keeping the level of intensity consistent. We worked on a lot of different things, and it’s finally clicking.”

In the Msgr. Martin Association semifinals, Sacred Heart swept O’Hara, and Immaculata topped Mount St. Mary.

In boys volleyball, the Class B competition opened Monday with Starpoint’s win over Amherst. The other seven first-round matches take place Tuesday.

Lady Mavs Secure AMCC Regular Season Title on Senior Day
Monday, November 2, 2015

Medaille will host the AMCC Semifinals and Finals next weekend.

Senior Jenna Cleversley had (16) kills and (15)
digs in Saturday's win over Penn State-Altoona.


BUFFALO, NY - The Medaille Lady Mavericks welcomed the Lions of Penn State-Altoona to the Sullivan Center on Saturday afternoon, as Medaille celebrated the careers of four incredible young women on senior day. The two teams came into today's contest ranked number one and two in the conference standings, knowing that the winner locks up the regular season crown. The Lady Mavericks took hold of the match early, and used a phenomenal balance of offense and defense to come away victorious; defeating Penn State-Altoona (3-1; 25-16, 20-25, 25-15, 25-19).

After a beautiful ceremony where Medaille acknowledged the careers of seniors Abby Depczynski (Depew, NY, Depew), Susan Muldoon (Buffalo, NY, Mt. Mercy Academy), Jenna Cleversley (West Seneca, NY, West Seneca West), and Simmone Talford (Clarence, NY, Clarence); the Lady Mavs came out in set number one firing on all cylinders. Kills by Cleversely, Muldoon, and Talford helped Medaille jump out to an early (10-4) lead. The Lions were able to claw back within two at (10-12); however, the Lady Mavs capped a (6-2) run with a monster kill by Muldoon to force Penn State-Altoona to take a timeout at (18-12).

The Lions were only able to muster another four points, as the Lady Mavs defense smothered Penn State-Altoona's attack, holding them to an attacking percentage of (-.031). Medaille ended the first set on a (7-3) run, taking the set (25-16).

Set number two was a battle, as neither team let the other run away early. After staying within reach for much of the second set, the Lady Mavs weren't able to rally as Penn State-Altoona knotted the match up with a (25-20) win.

Set number three began as a carbon copy of set two, with both teams trading shots and staying within reach of one another. However, kills by Talford and Cleversley jump started a quick (4-0) run as the Lady Mavs went up (14-10). That small scoring burst proved to be the turning point of set number three, as Medaille took (11) of the final (16) points to run away with a (25-15) win in the third set.


Senior Susan Muldoon had (15) kills and (7) blocks on senior day.


With the regular season conference championship within reach on their own home court, the Lady Mavericks rallied around each other, and the roaring crowd, to finish what they started. Both teams laid everything they had on the line; however, Saturday afternoon everything was coming up Medaille. After a Talford kill knotted set number four at (14), the Lady Mavs went on a (6-0) run to take control. A Penn State-Altoona timeout couldn't stop what was coming. Kills by Muldoon, Bailey Salemi (Wheatfield, NY, Niagara Wheatfield), and Marlena Clotfelter (Depew, NY, St. Mary's - Lancaster) closed out an incredible performance by the entire squad.

Cleversely led the Lady Mavs with (16) kills, while fellow senior Muldoon was not far behind with (15) of her own. Talford added to her leading career assists total, dishing out (49) assists in the win; and sophomore Hannah Johnson (Orchard Park, NY, Orchard Park) paced the team with (21) digs as Medaille improved their record to (17-7) overall, and (7-2) in the AMCC.

The win also ensures that the Lady Mavericks will host the AMCC Tournament next weekend, as Medaille holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against Penn State-Altoona thanks to this afternoon's win.

Kaempf swings steady for St. Francis volleyball
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Saturday October 31, 2015

Jake Kaempf’s shift to outside hitter is going quite all right. 

For his first three years of high school, Kaempf was a starting libero/defensive specialist for the St. Francis High varsity volleyball team. 

Red Raiders coach Andy Lanigan moved Kaempf to the outside for his senior year in 2015, and the move been met with terrific results. 

Lanigan was in search for more offense and he’s certainly gotten that from Kaempf. 

“We had flexibility to move guys around to see what we had,” Lanigan said. “He may swing unorthodox, but he’s going to give us 110 percent all the time. He’s going to be a guy who is going to make that first pass, cover on the block and keep plays alive. And then when to go to him, he’ll put hits down.”

Kaempf stands 6-foot tall these days, and he noted a large factor behind his playing libero the last three years was because Frannies had hitters in the 6-2, 6-3 range.

While he doesn’t have that type of towering height, Kaempf has the leaping ability and accuracy to compensate for the lack of prototypical size. 

He flashed that in a tight home match versus St. Mary’s of Lancaster Oct. 14 that St. Francis won in four games. The final one went to extras, and whenever the Red Raiders were in need of a big point to take control of the match, they often went to Kaempf, who delivered.

“He’s our MVP right now,” Lanigan said after that St. Mary’s match.

“It’s definitely different because I’ve never seen the front row in my high school career,” Kaempf said. “In practice, it’s a lot of reps. That prepares me, just getting a lot of swings in.

“I feel like our setter (Connor Cummings) has a lot of confidence in me to put the ball down. I like that he trusts me.”

Of course, it can be easy to trust a guy who was a captain last year and is again this fall.

And Kaempf has been doubly important since standout outside hitter Cody Smith, a junior, went down with a hand injury late last month. He’s expected to be healthy for the playoffs. 

In Smith’s absence, Kaempf, who also plays hockey and baseball, has been reliable despite outside hitter being so new to him. He’s helped St. Francis to a record of 8-9 (5-2 Monsignor Martin Athletic Association) as of press time.

“He’s been our go-to guy,” Lanigan said. “We’re pushing for him to be an All-Western New York player. With Cody being hurt we had to switch our offense around. Jake’s not the biggest guy but he’s probably the strongest guy on the team. That’s a testament to his work ethic. He has that champion mentality and he brings it every day and guys feed off that.”

It’s not like the senior wasn’t dependable as a libero, either. It was a risk to move Kaempf, a second team All-Catholic performer as a junior in 2014. It’s been a nice reward, though. 

“My freshman, sophomore, junior year, hits were just getting ripped at me,” Kaempf said. “But now I get to give them the medicine and hit it back at them.”

To Lanigan, the vision Kaempf developed as a libero is paying dividends now as an outside hitter. He’s learned tendencies of opponents, the coach noted, from surveying the entire court from the back row for three years. 

“To make that transition to the outside, it’s sort of like a baseball catcher,” Lanigan said. “When a catcher sits back and sees the ball and he sees his pitchers, when he gets up to bat he looks more confident at the plate. 

“The same thing is happening with Jake. He’s able to read the plays and find the spots. He faced the best hitters in Western New York and he’s able to see that and pick up on it.”

In addition to Kaempf, Lanigan said that junior Sean Taggart has stepped up since Smith went down with an injury. It forced Taggart to move from right side to the vacated outside spot, and he’s finishing plays at a high percentage, just like Kaempf. 

Connor Cummings began the season as a libero but he also changed positions early in the fall, and the junior is thriving as the team’s setter. Kaempf and Taggart are partly responsible for that, too.

The court has been a big chess game that Lanigan is working to master for the playoffs. St. Francis’ strong regular season hints that the right combinations have been found. 

“Having Jake (at outside) helps Connor’s confidence,” Lanigan said. “It helps all of our guys. When Jake puts the ball down, it seems to be, ‘OK, who’s going to be the next guy who steps up?’ They raise the bar for each other. 

“That goes back to our adage of competition breeding success. That’s all the makings for a good run.”

The Red Raiders closed their schedule Wednesday (Oct. 28) versus Canisius. At press time, Frannies was slated to be either the second or third seed in the MMAA postseason and face St. Mary’s in the semifinals Tuesday (Nov. 3) at Canisius.

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

Three advance easily
Buffalo News
Saturday, October 31, 2015

The qualification round in Class B in boys’ volleyball took place on Friday night, and a close match was nowhere to be found. Kenmore East topped Depew , Williamsville North stopped Niagara-Wheatfield, Hamburg blanked Holland and West Seneca East stopped Sweet Home in straight sets. Meanwhile, Iroquois needed four sets to beat East Aurora.

Elsewhere, Matthew Berardi had 14 kills in St. Joe’s straight-set win over O’Hara. That sets up the semifinals on Tuesday in the Monsignor Martin Association. Canisius will play St. Joe’s while St. Francis goes up against St. Mary’s of Lancaster. The matches will be played at Canisius High School.

WKBW Super 7
#4 – Devin Joslyn, Canisius Volleyball
WKBW.com Nick Filipowski
Friday, October 30, 2015


Has tallied 291 kills and 75 aces and hitting .440 on the season for the Crusaders.

"Devin has been a critical part of our team’s success this year. He is a tireless worker and an outstanding volleyball player. More importantly, he’s an outstanding young man who has a very bright future.” — Tom Weislo, Head Coach

Hutch-Tech history
Buffalo News
Thursday, October 29, 2015

Lynda Brundige finished with 15 kills as Hutch-Tech became the first Buffalo Public Schools team to win a first round match in Class A of the Section VI Tournament with a 25-22, 25-21, 25-19 volleyball win over West Seneca East.

Hutch-Tech, which went 12-0 in league play, is now 18-1 overall.

Lady Flyers volleyball team secures unbeaten record with Central sweep
Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, October 29, 2015


Maryvale’s girls volleyball team closed out an undefeated, division-title-winning season Oct. 19 by knocking off crosstown rival Cheektowaga, 3-2. It’s the first time the team has won the ECIC III regular-season title since 2000 and the first time the Lady Flyers have finished the regular season undefeated since 1997. Members of the team include, from left: front row - Jaelah George, Jennifer Zindle, Emily Raczynski, Julia Carter, Michelle Richardson, Brianna Henry, Shannon Mowry, Brianna Gontarek; back row - Zareya Moore, Haley Graczyk, Sarah Wise, Hoai Phan, Alexa Hoiensahl, Carly Cross, coach Tina Raczynski and Makayla McLeod.


Fittingly, it was Maryvale’s victory over crosstown rival Cheektowaga in October 19’s regular season finale that locked down the Lady Warriors’ first unbeaten run through divisional action in nearly two decades – not that Cheektowaga made it easy in Maryvale’s 25-22, 24-26, 25-22, 18-25, 25-23 win.

“We could have never imaged in our wildest dreams that we would have a season like this,” coach Tina Raczynski said. “It was like the pink elephant in the room all season long; we never discussed winning the division, much less going undefeated in league and non-league games.”

Playing in a five-set match for the first time this season, Maryvale worked hard to keep track of the Lady Warriors’ setter and two middle hitters, players whom Raczynski said “definitely kept us on our toes and made us fight for every point in all five sets.” In the end, the Lady Flyers’ determination pushed them to their historic victory.

Senior captain Brianna Henry had 12 kills, eight blocks and four aces to pace Maryvale’s efforts, while sophomore captain Julia Carter had eight kills, five blocks and four aces. Emily Raczynski had 22 assists, 13 service points and two blocks, while senior Shannon Mowry had 10 service points, two aces, two kills and two digs.

Junior Jaelah George chipped in with eight service points, five digs, an ace and a kill for Maryvale, which certainly relished the victory.

“All of the girls on both sides of the court played their hearts out in this match,” coach Raczynski said. “It was the most intense match we had played all year. It was a battle, but we fought hard and never gave up, and it showed when we won the match.”

Cheektowaga actually sewed up the divisional title October 13 when it swept Amherst by 25-20, 25-13, 25-13 scores. The Lady Warriors started the match out slowly, coach Raczynski said, but by the second set Cheektowaga had gotten into a familiar rhythm and started to set the pace.

Senior captain Michelle Richardson led the way with 13 assists, 15 service points, four aces and two digs, while Carter chipped in with six kills, two digs and a block.

“Once we started getting our passes up and got our offense going, we really took control of this match,” coach Raczynski said. “I actually kept it a secret from the girls [that we won the division] until Senior Night so we could announce it when their parents and families were there.”

The Lady Flyers didn’t have to wait long to learn coach Raczynski’s secret, however, as they topped Springville the next night (25-19, 25-22, 25-19) during their “Pink Out Night” cancer fundraising campaign that coincided with Senior Night. Six seniors were honored before the match, which wasn’t a given as Springville entered the contest tied for second in the division.

Henry had seven kills, four blocks and three digs to lead the way for the victors, while Emily Raczynski had seven assists, six digs and four aces.

“We never take Springville lightly whenever we meet them, but this was definitely our night,” coach Raczynski said. “They have some good hitters at Springville but we were able to handle them. We played our defense very well; we were blocking and picking up their hits. We also played our offense very well. It was just our night; everything went our way and the girls played their hearts out.”

Maryvale, which went 15-0 overall and finished 12-0 in ECIC III play, last won the regular-season title in 2000. The last team to complete the regular season undefeated in every non-league match as well was the 1997 squad.

When the Lady Flyers will next compete was not known at press time, as the girls volleyball seeding meeting had not yet taken place. Maryvale is all but assured of a first-round bye, however, though the Lady Flyers would love to get back to work given the way they closed out the regular season.

“We are just going to go with the same plan we had at the beginning of the year, and part of that is making sure we are only looking ahead to the next match,” coach Raczynski said. “You can never afford to underestimate your opponent in the playoffs. Everyone is starting over and you never know what can happen; everyone does their homework for the playoffs. We just have to be the team that can generate offense better and play strong defense.

“We want to go all the way to the finals this year and I believe this team can do it if they play the way they did against Springville and Cheektowaga,” coach Raczynski continued. “We have to keep our confidence up and stay focused. And no matter what happens we have already achieved and succeeded more than we could have hoped for. Not many teams go undefeated — it’s special to do so — but we did that and these girls will be able to carry this achievement with them for a long time.”

West Seneca Bee
Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Queen of Heaven girls volleyball team won the sixth annual Immaculata Academy Elementary Girls Volleyball Tournament this past weekend. The championship final was a rematch of Queen of Heaven and St. Gregg’s. St Gregg’s won both games in the pool round, but Queen of Heaven won when it mattered most, 2-1. Members of the team include, from left: front row - Courtney Kurkowiak, Ally Pajek, Shay Ciezki; back row - Meadow Slade, Kate Battin, Jenna Shalloe, Rachel Regan and Sara Bojarski.

Canisius finishes 8-0 in league
Buffalo News
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

It’s on to the Monsignor Martin volleyball playoffs for Canisius, which wrapped up an 8-0 league season by sweeping St. Francis. It was Senior Night for coach Tom Weislo’s team, which had a 32-0 match record and titles in all six tournaments entered.

“All our seniors played tonight and they did a good job,” Weislo said. “St. Francis always plays us tough.”

The senior standouts are setter Charles Desmond and three middle attacks, Dan Barry, Andrew Schake and Charles Hart.

South boys volleyball finishes 12-0 in ECIC II
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Despite returning only three players from last year’s 11-1 squad, the Williamsville South boys volleyball team finished 12-0 in ECIC II.

“I think it was a nice surprise,” South coach Thom Knab said. “I was a little concerned at the beginning of the season but they were able to put it together and found ways to win. It’s a credit to having two great players in Joe Zanelotti and Shawn Barbalato, experience from Evan Manna at setter, and having enough of a supporting cast around them, to get the job done.”

The Billies accomplished the goal after beating West Seneca East, 25-13, 25-11, 25-16 at home Oct. 20 and winning at Sweet Home, 25-15, 25-16, 25-23, Wednesday, Oct. 21.

Knab said his team showed improvement from the first time they played West Seneca East, a match they won in five sets after losing the first two.

“We had much better passing and much cleaner play,” Knab said.

Zanelotti recorded 15 kills and four aces. Barbalato had six kills, six aces and five blocks. Manna ran the offense well, Knab said.

Against Sweet Home, Barbalato posted nine kills and three blocks, Sean Brown posted four blocks and Zanelotti contributed eight kills and seven aces.

South closed out the week at the Grand Island Tournament Saturday.

Without Zanelotti, Brown and Manna in the lineup, the Billies still went 5-1 in pool play, beating North Tonawanda, 25-16, 25-10, splitting with Kenmore West, 23-25, 25-21, and downing Maryvale, 25-23, 25-15.

The Billies were then placed in a quarterfinal pool with Williamsville North and Williamsville East, losing to North, 13-25, and East, 23-25.

For the tournament, Barbalato had 26 kills and 10 aces, Matt Kennedy filled in for Brown and posted 20 kills and Mitchell Binda contributed nine kills and six aces. Matt Reesor supplied four aces at outside hitter. Zanelotti recorded 11 kills in the quarterfinal matches. Knab also noted the play of Nico Zanelotti, who moved from libero to setter.

South (15-3) hosted Lockport Tuesday but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They host Clarence Wednesday.

The Billies are the third seed in the Section VI Class B Tournament and will host either Williamsville North or Niagara-Wheatfield in the prequarterfinals Tuesday, Nov. 3.

email: pnagy@beenews.com

East boys volleyball sets school record for wins
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

When Mike Braunscheidel took over as Williamsville East boys volleyball coach six years ago, the team finished 3-15.

Fast forward six years later and the Flames finished the regular season with a 14-4 record after beating Kenmore West, 19-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-22 Thursday. East was down a starter due to an illness.

“Overall, I am proud of the team and am looking forward to sectionals, which begin Nov. 3,” Braunscheidel said. “Going into the season, I didn’t know if we were going to be that strong, but we really worked hard in practice and came with the right attitude wanting to get better. As the season went on, they continued to gel.”

East also won its final two ECIC II matches of the season, beating Starpoint, 25-10, 25-21, 25-16, Oct. 20 and Iroquois, 25-21, 25-14, 25-19, Wednesday, Oct. 21, and finished second in ECIC II with a 9-3 record.

The Iroquois match was East’s senior day. Braunscheidel was proud of his senior class: Kevin Xiang (reserve back row player), Justin Fineberg (libero), Alex Grano (middle hitter), Jacob Weissert (outside hitter/weak side hitter) and Mike Shanahan (outside hitter/middle hitter).

Braunscheidel said Xiang and Fineberg bided their time and stepped up this year, noting Fineberg for his back row defense and passing and working on his serving at libero. He said Shanahan brought an overall athleticism from basketball and was a versatile player, playing outside hitter or middle hitter, Grano was consistent and was the team’s emotional leader, and Weissert improved his overall game and provided crucial points when needed.

All five mentioned their favorite memories from the season.

Grano said the best part about playing on the team is that “I can count on everyone to give it everything they got” and that his favorite memory so far was beating Clarence in five games.

Weissert thought this season so far “has been so much more exciting than I imagined it would be” and beating Clarence for the first time in the history of the program was “pretty great.”

He also thanked former JV coach Jocelyn Canaday for teaching him the basics of the game and Braunscheidel for pushing him to become a better player.

Shanahan called the season so far “as memorable” and said he found a new sport he loves thanks to the guidance of coaches Canaday and Braunscheidel.

Fineberg said Braunscheidel did everything he could to help improve his game and turn him into the player that he is today.

“He helped make the past two seasons very enjoyable and a great learning experience,” he said.

Xiang said he has gotten to know people he would have never met without joining the team.

“I’d like to thank everyone who’s involved with East volleyball for making it such a great program, but I would especially like to thank coach Braunscheidel for always pushing me to improve,” he said.

East hosts Lake Shore in the Class B prequarterfinals Nov. 3.

email: pnagy@beenews.com

East JV volleyball finishes season strong
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Williamsville East JV boys volleyball team (15-2, 11-1) finished its season strong at the inaugural JV Championships over the weekend.

The tournament showcased the best JV teams from Western New York and included at least one team from Central New York.

At the end of tournament play, East ranked second in its pool against Canisius, Frontier, and Maryvale, having easily defeated the later two by more than 15 points in each game.

The JV team advanced to the prequarter finals to face ECIC division rival Sweet Home (11-1 league record) in a one-game league championship to 25 points.

East had been craving to to play Sweet Home throughout the tournament and when given the chance, handed the Panthers a 25-17 loss.

East went on to face No. 1 tournament ranked Canisius in the quarterfinals.

East’s team played remarkably well against the more experienced team and earned a respectable amount of points in each game, losing 15-25, 20-25. Hamburg upset Canisius in the finals to win the tournament.

East was led in the tournament by team captains Jason Berkun, Stuart Purkiss and Alex Wisniewski.

They were equally supported by sophomores Troy Stancampiano and Bryce Stancampiano; freshman Edward Trevino; and eighth-grader Josh Weissert.

The tournament capped off a tremendous season for East. They finished first in ECIC division 2 and earned the JV program’s first tournament trophy by placing second at the North Tonawanda Tournament. They are ranked fifth, sixth or seventh at the Western New York JV Showcase.

Sweet Home finishes 8-4 in ECIC II
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sweet Home’s girls volleyball team finished 8-4 in ECIC II and 9-5 overall after defeating Iroquois, 25-16, 25-15, 25-12, Oct. 19.

Rachel Reusch led Sweet Home with 30 kills, three blocks and 10 digs.

Claire Hiwiller added 28 assists, four kills and eight digs.

Kylie Prizel chipped in six aces and six digs.

The Lady Panthers closed out the regular season with a 17-25, 8-25, 21-25 loss against Clarence Friday.

Reusch recorded 12 kills and five digs. Hiwiller contributed 20 assists and six digs.

Williamsville South

The Lady Billies improved to 9-3 in ECIC II and 14-4 overall with wins over West Seneca East, 25-23, 25-14, 25-17, Oct. 19, Orchard Park, 25-19, 27-25, 25-18, Wednesday, Oct. 21 and North Tonawanda, 25-12, 25-14, 25-19, Friday.

Melissa Postek had 21 kills and Anna Hoffman posted 32 digs.

Coach Tom Sproull said Hoffman’s performance against OP was her best match of the season.

Postek posted 16 kills versus North Tonawanda.

Williamsville North

The Lady Spartans split their matches last week, losing at home against Hamburg, 17-25, 30-32, 26-28, and traveling to Lockport and winning 15-25, 25-23, 22-25, 26-24, 25-12 Thursday.

North coach Keith Hopkins said his team had chances to win the second and third sets, but was unable to win.

Elise Hopkins (20 kills), Lauren Curtis (11 kills) and Noelle Gulick (5 kills) led the offense. Abby Vincent distributed 33 assists and Maddie Farber led the defense with 17 digs.

North played with intensity and focus in the fifth set against Lockport and jumped out to a 15-3 lead.

Senior defensive specialist Riley Crage came off the bench and provided a spark in the fourth and fifth games with 11 digs and did well in serve receive.

Elise Hopkins (14 kills), Curtis (12 digs), Gulick (6 kills) and Morgan Simon (5 kills) also helped the offense.

North (8-16-1, 3-10) hosted Frontier Monday in its final league match Monday, and traveled to Williamsville East Tuesday, but information about the matches was unavailable before press time.

Unbeaten East girls volleyball wins ‘Friday Night Fight’
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Williamsville East’s girls volleyball team continues to excel this season, beating Grand Island 25-17, 25-17, 26-28 and St. Mary’s 25-17, 22-25, 25-23 at its “Friday Night Fight” Tournament Friday.

The entire team contributed to the win over Grand Island. Contributing to the victory were Lexi Novak (8 kills, 2 blocks), Carly Shifflet (5 kills, 5 digs), Julianna Benz (16 assists, 10 digs), Sam Mendelsohn (19 digs, 3 kills), Makayla Greenfield (13 assists, 4 digs), Allison Jozwiak (6 kills, 2 blocks), Leah Orsini (5 kills), Rachel Steffan (4 kills), Megan Wiese (2 kills, 12 digs), Ann Marie Jones (8 digs), and Alyssa Pijanowski (3 digs).

The victory over St. Mary’s was big as both teams are ranked high in various state polls. East is also tied for first in the latest Western New York large school coaches poll while St. Mary’s is ranked first for small schools.

The two teams also met in September at the St. Mary’s Tournament with St. Mary’s handing the Lady Flames their only loss of the year, winning 15-13 in the deciding set.

“The kids were really happy,” East coach Scott Wright said. “Even though we have been successful the last few years, we have not been able to break through against big schools. It’s a credit to all of the hard work that they have put in.”

In the first set, East took an early 6-2 advantage behind a serving run from Greenfield. St. Mary’s scored four consecutive points to cut the lead to 12-9.

The Lady Flames responded by winning six of the next seven points to extend the lead to 18-10.

Orsini’s fourth kill of the set gave the Lady Flames a 22-12 lead, and the Flames won the set on a kill from Shifflet.

St. Mary’s seized the momentum at the start of the second set and built an 8-3 lead. A shared Steffan/Orsini block and two kills from Shifflet cut the St. Mary’s lead to 9-7.

St. Mary’s maintained control and extended its lead to 21-16.

East made one final push, winning five of the next seven points, to cut the lead to 23-21.

St. Mary’s won the next point, and another kill from Novak saved set point before the Lady Lancers won.

The start of the third set went back and forth with neither team gaining more than a two-point advantage.

Trailing 8-7, a kill from Novak tied the set at 8-8, and an ace from Shifflet gave the Lady Flames a 9-8 lead.

Two Novak kills and a Greenfield ace extended the lead to 13-10.

St. Mary’s tied the score at 14-14 before a kill from Steffan gave East a 15-14 lead.

St. Mary’s took a 16-15 lead but East kept its composure. A perfect pass from Shifflet and a back set from Greenfield led to another kill for Steffan that tied the match at 16-16.

East took a 20-17 lead only to see St. Mary’s come back and tie the set at 20-20.

A kill from Novak gave East a 21-20 lead. St. Mary’s was unable to handle a well-placed serve from Mendelsohn and the Lady Flames extended their lead to 22-20.

A kill from St. Mary’s cut the lead to 22-21. East responded with a Novak kill down the line for a 23-21 East lead. Another St. Mary’s kill cut the lead to 23-22.

On the next point, St. Mary’s scrambled to dig a Steffan attack before another kill from Novak gave East a 24-22 lead and their first match point.

It was Novak’s ninth kill of the set.

A well placed St. Mary’s attack saved the first match point before a final kill from Shifflet won the match.

The Lady Flames were led by Novak (21 kills, 6 digs), Shifflet (10 kills, 20 digs), Mendelsohn (21 digs), Greenfield (39 assists, 5 digs), Orsini (4 kills), Steffan (3 kills), and Jozwiak (2 kills).

East’s only match during the week was a 25-16, 22-25, 25-18, 25-13 non-league win over Lancaster Wednesday, Oct. 21.

East came through with strong performances from Shifflet (23 kills, 17 digs), Novak (16 kills, 22 digs), Mendelsohn (29 digs), and Greenfield (44 assists, 14 digs).

Other contributors included Steffan (3 kills, 2 blocks), Orsini (3 kills, 1 block), Jozwiak (2 kills, 2 blocks), and Benz (8 digs).

Neither team could establish a lead greater than two early in the first set. With the score tied at 6-6, East won seven of the next eight points and built a 13-7 lead.

The Lady Flames were up 18-14 when Jozwiak went on a six-point serving run.

Lancaster started the second set strong, taking an early 7-4 lead. East battled back to tie the set at 9-9 behind a kill from Shifflet only to see Lancaster regain the momentum and take a 14-9 lead.

A five-point serving run from Mendelsohn tied the set at 14-14.

Lancaster regained control by winning nine of the next 12 points to take a 23-17 lead.

East made one final push, cutting the score to 24-22 behind two Shifflet kills, but Lancaster won the set, marking the fourth time East had lost a set all season.

East took control early in the third set, building an early 11-5 lead behind three kills from Novak. Lancaster battled back to take a 17-15 advantage, forcing East to take a timeout. Two Shifflet kills tied the match at 17-17.

Trailing 18-17, the Flames won the next eight points to take the pivotal third set 25-18.

An eight-point run behind the serving of Steffan included three Shifflet kills, a Jozwiak kill, a Steffan ace, and blocks from and Jozwiak.

In the fourth set, the Lady Flames took a 12-5 lead on five kills from Shifflet and strong serving from Novak. Lancaster was never able to get closer than five as East extended its lead to 17-9.

Strong serving from Ann Marie Jones powered East to a 25-13 win.

East hosted Clarence Monday in a non-league match but information about it was unavailable before press time. The Lady Flames hosted Williamsville North Tuesday in their regular season finale, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

Amherst drops final matches of regular season
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Amherst’s girls volleyball team dropped its final two matches of the season, falling against Depew, 23-25, 19-25, 23-25, Oct. 19 and City Honors, 18-25, 18-25, 12-25 Wednesday, Oct. 21.

Amherst coach Rachel Schepart said her team played a great first game against Depew but could not keep the lead.

“They lost some of their momentum going into the second game but were able to pick it back up to play a very close third game,” Schepart said.

Senior captain Gabby Lasher led the team on offense and defense with two aces, four kills, 17 digs and a block.

Lasher and senior Mykayla Harber were honored as part of senior day. Harber recorded two kills, 10 digs and two blocks.

Schepart said the team also “pinked the gym” in support of breast cancer month.

Also contributing for the Lady Tigers were junior Mykela Moore (2 aces, 2 kills, 5 blocks), sophomores Hannah Bardeen (ace, digs), Carolina Seaner (3 blocks), Mia Ciccarella (4 aces, 9 assists, 3 digs, block), Elizabeth Hall (ace, 2 kills, 5 digs, 2 blocks), and freshmen Erica Norris (kill, 13 digs) and Maddie Jorgensen (2 assists).

Schepart said the first game against City Honors went point for point until the end.

“I was extremely happy with how the girls performed and was able to get all of the players in at some point during the match,” she said. “The girls played their best and that is all that I can ask for.”

She said Jorgensen (ace, 2 assists, dig) and Norris (ace, kill, 8 digs) were pulled up to play for varsity after the season began and have done an amazing job.

“The team has great potential in the future with these young players,” Schepart said.

Also contributing for Amherst were Lasher (ace, 3 kills, 16 digs), Bardeen (10 digs), Moore (ace), Seaner (kill), Ciccarella (5 assists, dig), Hall (kill) and Harber (kill, 2 digs).

Win over Frontier in league finale forces coin flip, leads to better seed
Boys volleyball

Clarence Bee
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Clarence’s boys volleyball team entered October 20’s ECIC I finale with Frontier looking to avenge an earlier loss to the Frontiers, but the Red Devils walked away with so much more following their 26-24, 26-24, 25-18 conquest.

The win actually forced a coin flip to determine sectional seeding, and Clarence’s good fortune meant that it would earn a quarterfinal round matchup with Kenmore West instead of Lancaster or Lockport, teams that coach Kevin Starr called “two of the stronger ones in our bracket.”

The league finale was also an opportunity for the Red Devils of Clarence to continue working on some new ideas in terms of lineups and rotations prior to the playoffs. Starr noted that one in particular “paid off pretty significantly” in the first set as junior Ares Blessios, getting some time in the middle, ended the game with a block that “really fired up our guys.”

All four of Clarence’s seniors came up big during the team’s Senior Night match, with Ben Janzow collecting 11 kills, Dalton Squires dishing out 35 assists, Jon Snitzer providing solid back row play and Graham Craven ending the match with a kill from the right side.

Henry Payne chipped in with 10 of his 20 kills for the match in the second set, while younger brother Teddy Payne had 10 digs for the match.

“Teddy literally gets better every week, and anyone who knows volleyball can see that he belongs on the varsity team,” Starr said. “Many of our plays start with a big dig or a great pass from Teddy. All in all it was great night for us, continuing the improvement that we showed at the Orchard Park Tournament.”

Clarence (5-7 ECIC I) continued to warm up for postseason play Tuesday by traveling to the state’s second-ranked team, but information about the Red Devils’ match with Canisius was not available at press time. The Red Devils will then face undefeated ECIC II champion Williamsville South this evening to close out the regular season.

“We purposefully scheduled these last two matches the week before sectionals knowing that they’d be great tune-ups for us before we get to sectional play,” Starr said.

Clarence Girls volleyball defends status as undefeated league champs
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A five-set victory over Lancaster on October 15 assured Clarence’s girls volleyball of a second consecutive ECIC I regular-season title, though the Lady Legends made the Lady Red Devils earn their status in what coach Michael Meyer called “our toughest league match of the year.”

Lancaster “came out fast in front of a huge Homecoming Week crowd,” Meyer said, and as a result Clarence found itself down 17-9 in the first set before the Lady Red Devils knew what hit them. However, they showed great composure and came storming back in that game to be at game point with the serve, 24-23, before ultimately losing the opening set, 28-26.

The Lady Red Devils came back to take the next two sets, 25-11 and 25-17, before dropping the fourth set, 25-21, to enter a winner-take-all fifth set.

“The match was played at an extremely high level and the size of the crowd greatly contributed to an amazing volleyball atmosphere,” Meyer said.

Meghan Neelon had 25 kills and Karley King had 20 kills for the match, while Melissa Ratzel contributed 10 kills in only 12 sets played. The defensive trio of Jaide Cummings, Lindsey Leipold and Lexi MacDonald combined for 30 digs.

Maddie Christopher and Neelon each turned in strong setting performances, while Emiley Kuhn, Mary Owen and Hannah Marlowe chipped in with some timely kills and digs in a performance that guaranteed Clarence of at least a share of first place in the division.

Clarence then defeated Orchard Park in three games October 19 to earn sole possession of first place in the league, and later defeated Frontier to complete the season undefeated.

Clarence went on to honor seniors King and Grayce Enderby in Friday’s 3-1 non-league victory over Sweet Home. Gretchen Weiss served for a team high six aces, while Emily Perna blocked a ball for the final point.

Clarence closed out its regular season Monday at Williamsville East, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The match pitted the undefeated league champions of ECIC I and II against one another and should settle going into playoffs which squad is the area’s top large school.

The postseason is slated to begin Monday for Class AA, but the Lady Red Devils are in line to receive an opening-round bye as the top seed. Meyer anticipated at press time that Clarence’s playoff run would begin at home two days later.

No. 2 Flames top No. 1 in four sets
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Clarence’s Karley King (9) tries to a spike through the block attempt by Williamsville East’s Allison Jozwiak (10) in their volleyball match Monday. Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News


It was No. 2 versus No. 1 and No. 2 won.

Williamsville East, ranked behind Clarence in this week’s Western New York Coaches’ Girls Volleyball poll, defeated the Red Devils in four sets Monday night. Coach Michael Braunscheidel’s team already had clinched the ECIC II championship and stands 15-0 on the season. The Flames will wrap up their season with Senior Night Tuesday against rival Williamsville North. It was the first loss for Clarence, now 15-1.

Senior Carly Shifflet comes from a family known for its achievements in football and wrestling. The granddaughter of longtime WNY coach Joe Shifflet had 24 kills and 16 digs in the victory. Junior Lexi Novak contributed 21 kills and four aces.

A defensive standout was libero Sam Mendelsohn, a senior. She had 33 digs in the match.

“It certainly was nice to have No. 1 versus No. 2,” Braunscheidel said. “It should set both teams up for success in the playoffs.”

Western New York 2015 Boys Top 10 Poll - 10/27/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS
1. Canisius (12) 120
2. Eden 108
3. Orchard Park 96
4. Lancaster 82
5. Hamburg 53
6. Clarence 48
7. Frontier 46
8. West Seneca West 45
9. Grand Island 40
10. Williamsville South 14


Western New York 2015 Girls Top 10 Poll - 10/27/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Clarence (6) 87
2. Williamsville East (3) 84
3. Lancaster 72
4. Orchard Park 57
5. Hamburg 50
6. Williamsville South 36
7. Kenmore West 30
8. Sweet Home 29
9. Niagara Wheatfield 20
10. Grand Island 19
Also receiving votes: Williamsville North.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60
2. Eden 54
3. Portville 48
4. Nardin 42
5. Randolph 31
6. City Honors 30
7. Southwestern 23
8. North Collins 19
9. Albion 12
10. Panama 10
Also receiving votes: Akron, Chautauqua Lake, Cattaraugus/Little Valley and Immaculata.

High School Extra (Oct. 25): Vikings keep sailing
Buffalo News
Sunday, October 25, 2015

Grand Island continued its dream season. The Vikings won their own boys’ volleyball tournament, defeating North Tonawanda in two straight games in the final.

“We’re on a nice run here,” coach Bill Schultz said. “We are 14-0 overall, we won the NFL league title, and now we’ve won our third tournament.”

Grand Island defeated Williamsville East in the semifinals, and beat two opponents in the first round.

“Kyle Burns played well,” Schultz said. “He’s a senior. He’s been a varsity player for four years now.”

Burns was named MVP of the tournament. Nick Gioeli of GI also was picked for the all-tournament team.

The host school didn’t do quite as well at the Hamburg Tournament, as Canisius captured the title. The Crusaders, a unanimous pick as the best team in Western New York, won two straight games over Lancaster, ranked fourth.

Canisius defeated Frontier in the semifinal to advance, while Lancaster knocked off host Hamburg in two close games.

Charlie Desmond of Canisius, a senior setter, was the MVP. The Crusaders also placed Drew Schake and Devin Joslyn on the all-tournament team.

High School Extra (Oct. 24): Perfect no longer
Buffalo News
Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hutch-Tech completed the unbeaten run through the Buffalo Public Schools girls volleyball league with a win over Olmsted on Tuesday that wrapped up the city title. But the Engineers couldn’t quite finish an 18-0 season, losing in five sets to Cleveland Hill in a non-league matchup.

Hutch-Tech had knocked off Pioneer, JFK and Tapestry. But the Golden Eagles proved to be too good in this matchup. Cleveland Hill won the final set, 25-11.

WKBW Super 7
#1 Griffin Schmit, Canisius Volleyball
Canisius' Griffin Schmit tabbed as "Rising Star," named Super 7 Athlete of the Week
WKBW.com Nick Filipowski
Friday, October 23, 2015


Leads Canisius with 323 kills, 56 blocks and 49 aces. He is also powering
the Crusaders attack with a .511 hitting percentage. Canisius is 28-0 this season.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - When he steps onto the floor, while we all hear the sounds of the game, Canisius' Griffin Schmit tunes out all the noise.

"I try not to think about it and I'm just focused on the game because that's what matters most," he said.

That focus on the court has turned the junior into one of the most dominant volleyball players in the entire country.

"He can do some things that will make our heads turn a little bit," Head Coach Thomas Weislo said.

"I just like attacking the ball and jump as high as I can and swing as hard as I can," Griffin said. "Try not play timid or scared."

With that aggressiveness Griffin has been tabbed as one of the "On the Radar Rising Stars" of the sport in Volleyball Magazine, and is one of the most coveted college prospects in the country, catching the attention of national powers UCLA, USC, Pepperdine, Ohio State, Princeton and BYU.

"He's a very dynamic, very powerful, very fluid and he does some things that the normal high school player doesn't do right now," Weislo added. "It's fun to watch, its fun to be a part of."

But none of the success has come as a suprise to the head coach, who made Griffin the first freshman to start for the varsity squad two seasons ago.

"When he came in we knew he could be a pretty outstanding player and so far he's done everything that we've asked him to do."

WKBW Super 7
#3 Lynda Brundige, Hutch Tech Volleyball

WKBW.com Nick Filipowski
Friday, October 23, 2015



Helped guide Hutch Tech to a perfect regular season record and win the city league title.

"Her leadership, determination, motivation and elite volleyball skill has led our team to win the Buffalo Public School High School Volleyball League with an undefeated record of 12-0."

WKBW Super 7
#6 Angela Filkov, North Collins Volleyball

WKBW.com Nick Filipowski
Friday, October 23, 2015



"She has accumulated 347 assists during league play and has led her team to a 12-2 record."

High School Extra (Oct. 23): Eden rallies past OP, GI downs Lancaster
Buffalo News
Friday, October 23, 2015

With the postseason right around the corner for boys volleyball, Eden tuned up for the second season nicely Thursday by rallying for a nonleague road win at Orchard Park, 20-25, 22-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-22.

“We started out slow,” Raiders coach Robert Pierce said. “Then I had to do a lineup change. I flip flopped four guys, it was great for us from that point.”

While Eden tweaked its lineup, Calvin Nowicki played his usual steady brand of volleyball, which also helped open the door for Raiders’ comeback.

He finished with 58 assists and four blocks. Declan Pierce added 26 kills for Eden.

Grand Island (14-0) beat host Lancaster in five sets, taking the last 25-21 in another nonleaguer.

Pat Cramer had 60 assists and six blocks for GI, which can clinch the league title with a win today at North Tonawanda.

Billies boys volleyball shines
Shawn Stepner, WKBW
Thursday, October 22, 2015

First Row: Nick Ionta, Evan Manna, Mitchell Binda, Nico Zanelotti, Scott Jauch, Middle Row: Coach Phil Smith, Anthony Leggio, Dan Proch, Matt Reesor, Joe Zanelotti, JF Oliver, Coach Thom Knab. Last Row: Sean Brown, Shawn Barbalato and Matt Kennedy. Missing is Nick Pieri.


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Congratulations goes out to the Williamsville South boys volleyball team. The Billies clinched an undefeated regular season Wednesday night with a 3-0 win over Sweet Home.

They own a 12-0 record and are the ECIC division two champs for a third consecutive year. 

What makes this year's team so special is they did it all after losing 9 of 12 players from last year's team.

JFK’s improved girls volleyball team hoping to finish well
Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, October 22, 2015

Williamsville South’s boys volleyball team is once again the best in ECIC Division II.

The Billies wrapped up their third consecutive division title with a 23-25, 25-21, 25-14, 25-16 home win over Williamsville East Wednesday, Oct. 14.

“The first set was really tight,” South coach Thom Knab said. “The second set we turned it a little bit into our favor. We took control of third and fourth games. We got a little more aggressive and East struggled with their passing and on-court transition game.”

Joe Zanelotti paced South with 23 kills and four aces. Shawn Barbalato added 10 kills.

The match was also South’s “Dig Pink” fundraiser for breast cancer research. Knab said $516 was raised.

South also traveled to Iroquois Friday and won 25-17, 25-17, 25-17. Zanelotti recorded 15 kills and three blocks. Barbalato supplied nine kills and three blocks. Matt Kennedy blocked four shots.

South (13-3, 10-0) hosted West Seneca East Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Sweet Home Wednesday and compete in the Grand Island Tournament Saturday.

South boys volleyball clinches third straight ECIC II title
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Williamsville South’s boys volleyball team is once again the best in ECIC Division II.

The Billies wrapped up their third consecutive division title with a 23-25, 25-21, 25-14, 25-16 home win over Williamsville East Wednesday, Oct. 14.

“The first set was really tight,” South coach Thom Knab said. “The second set we turned it a little bit into our favor. We took control of third and fourth games. We got a little more aggressive and East struggled with their passing and on-court transition game.”

Joe Zanelotti paced South with 23 kills and four aces. Shawn Barbalato added 10 kills.

The match was also South’s “Dig Pink” fundraiser for breast cancer research. Knab said $516 was raised.

South also traveled to Iroquois Friday and won 25-17, 25-17, 25-17. Zanelotti recorded 15 kills and three blocks. Barbalato supplied nine kills and three blocks. Matt Kennedy blocked four shots.

South (13-3, 10-0) hosted West Seneca East Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Sweet Home Wednesday and compete in the Grand Island Tournament Saturday.

Sweet Home volleyball improving
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It’s been a tough season for the Sweet Home boys volleyball team as far as wins and losses – 0-10 in ECIC II, 0-14 overall as of press time - but Panthers coach Rich Cicero is seeing steady improvement from his players.

That was apparent in the Panthers’ matches against Williamsville East last week. Sweet Home lost the Oct. 13 meeting, 17-25, 23-25, 12-25, and then lost in four in Friday’s meeting, 26-24, 22-25, 19-25, 23-25. Sweet Home trailed 24-13 in the fourth game.

“I’m impressed with my kids’ tenacity and willingness to work hard,” Cicero said.

Cicero noted the leadership from seniors Alex Weinreich (setter), Chris Weinreich (libero) and Ryan Hayter (outside hitter, plays on left side) and Brandon Miller (right side hitter).

Junior outside hitter Colin May recorded eight kills, freshman outside hitter Caleb Luton had six kills and junior middle hitter Mike Ciminella had three stuffed blocks in the second East match. Junior middle hitter Mitchell Thurston served 10 straight points in the fourth set.

Sweet Home hosted Iroquois Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They host Williamsville South Wednesday.

East girls volleyball wins Lady Jacks Tourney, clinches ECIC II title
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Williamsville East’s girls volleyball team won the Lady Jacks “Dig Pink” Volleyball Invitational Saturday at North Tonawanda High School. Members of the team include from left: first row — Carly Shifflet, Sam Mendelsohn, Lexi Novak; second row — Leah Orsini, Ann Marie Jones, Megan Wiese, Alyssa Pijanowski, Jessica Weaver, Allison Jozwiak, Julianna Benz, Rachel Steffan and Makayla Greenfield.


Williamsville East’s girls volleyball team continued its outstanding season by winning the Lady Jacks “Dig Pink” Volleyball Invitational Saturday at North Tonawanda High School.

It was the Lady Flames’ second tournament win of the season and is the first time they won the tournament.

“That was huge,” East coach Scott Wright said. “It’s such a veteran team that has played a lot of volleyball. They know how to put themselves through a tournament situation.”


Williamsville South Annalise Williamsville South Annalise Hoffman bumps one back into play Saturday at the Lady Jacks “Dig Pink” Volleyball Invitational at North Tonawanda High School. The Lady Billies lost to Portville, 30-18, in the gold quarterfinals. Photo by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com

East did not drop a set throughout the tournament, beating Niagara Wheatfield, 30-15, in the quarterfinals, Clarence, 30-25, in the semifinals and Section V Mercy, 25-13, 25-17, in the finals.

East went undefeated in pool play with wins over Lewiston Porter, 25-13, 25-13, Williamsville North, 25-13, 25-17, and Hamburg, 25-15, 25-20.

Mercy had not dropped a set coming into the finals. The first set was tied at 4-4, but East pulled away and took a 13-9 lead.

Makayla Greenfield went on a five-point serving run, which featured three kills from Lexi Novak that extended the Lady Flames’ lead to 18-9.

All-Tournament Team selection Carly Shifflet recorded a kill for match point.

East led 6-2 in the second set behind three kills from Novak and a kill from Shifflet.

Mercy cut the deficit to 9-7 before a Shifflet kill allowed the Lady Flames to regain the momentum.

East extended a 10-8 lead to 15-8 behind a five-point serving run from Shifflet. Novak posted two kills and Leah Orsini added a kill.

Mercy cut the deficit to 18-15, but East won seven of the last nine points, and Novak closed out the match with a kill — her 15th of the match — to secure the championship.

Shifflet added 10 kills, All-Tournament Team selection Sam Mendelsohn had 21 digs and Greenfield handed out 26 assists.

East hit .394 and had 53 digs.

The Lady Flames came out strong against Clarence in the semifinals, building a 5-1 lead behind the serving of Greenfield, two kills from Ally Jozwiak and a block from Jozwiak and Rachel Steffan.

East moved ahead 12-4 after kills from Shifflet, Novak and Steffan. The Lady Flames extended their lead from 14-7 to 18-7 with kills from Greenfield and Shifflet, and blocks from Orsini and Shifflet.

Another kill from Shifflet gave the Lady Flames a 24-12 lead before Clarence went on a mini-run, cutting the lead to 26-19.

A kill from Novak extended the lead to 29-22.

East’s offense was the difference against Niagara-Wheatfield.

A highlight of the match and the tournament was a 90-second point that included 10 digs by the Lady Flames before a kill from Novak gave them the point.

The Lady Flames took an early 7-1 lead behind a serving run from Greenfield. A Novak serving run extended the lead to 13-3.

Niagara Wheatfield battled back to make the score 15-10 before East went on a 10-3 run to increase its lead to 25-13 behind four kills from Novak. The Lady Flames closed out the match winning four of the last five points, including a Shifflet kill and a block from Orsini and Steffan.

For the tournament, Shifflet totaled 37 kills and 34 digs and Mendolsohn recorded 62 digs and 11 aces.

Novak posted 50 kills, 37 digs, three blocks and 11 aces. Greenfield posted 110 assists and 21 digs.

Also contributing were Jozwiak (11 kills, 4 blocks), Steffan (9 kills, 4 blocks), Orsini (6 kills, 6 blocks), and junior Julianna Benz (15 digs, 8 assists).

East continued its dominance over ECIC Division II competition, clinching the division title with a 25-13, 25-21, 25-12 home win over Williamsville South Tuesday, Oct. 13, and followed it with a 25-16, 25-11, 25-10 win over Sweet Home Thursday.

East is 11-0 in ECIC II and 12-0 overall. The Lady Flames have won the ECIC II title four consecutive years and five times in the last six years.

The South match saw the return of Mendelsohn, who had missed almost three weeks of action due to an injury.

Mendelsohn, who finished the match with a team-high 22 digs, made her presence felt right from the start with a five-point serving run, which included three kills from Novak.

“We played consistent and everyone did their job,” Wright said. “It was also nice having Sam back. She set the tone with a big dig off a serve from Melissa Postek. She tightened up our defense.”

East dominated the first set, opening a 19-5 lead and ended it on a kill from Shifflet.

South, the defending Class B state champions, built a 5-2 lead in the second set, but kills from Shifflet and Jozwiak, and a block from Orsini, tied the set at 5-5. Novak gave East a 6-5 lead with a dig that found its way to the open court for a kill.

South fought back to take a 10-8 lead but kills from Shifflet and Orsini tied the set at 10.

Ahead 16-15, East took the lead for good with a seven-point run. Shifflet closed out the set with a kill.

The third set was tied at 8-8 before East went on a 9-1 run, highlighted by kills from Shifflet, Novak and Orsini, and two aces from Greenfield.

A final serving run from Novak gave East a 23-11 lead, and a kill from Shifflet and a block from Steffan, closed out the match.

Novak led the offense with 19 kills, 13 digs and three aces. Shifflet contributed 13 kills and 17 digs, Greenfield handed out 34 assists and six digs, Orsini recorded six blocks and two kills, Jozwiak supplied four kills and Benz added seven digs.

Melissa Postek led South with 13 kills. Annalise Hoffman supplied 16 digs. Kelsey Stasiak handed out 12 assists.

“We were not at our best,” South coach Tom Sproull said. “We were over passing and making a lot of unforced errors. Our sideout percentage was way below 40 percent. You usually need 60 to win a match. It starts with our serve receive pass. All of it dictates a kill versus them playing a ball and roping something back at us. Against a team with that much firepower, you have to get the first swing and we were not getting the first swing.”

Sweet Home took an early 8-6 lead in the first set, but two consecutive kills from Novak tied the set at 10-10.

East won five of the next six points to take a 15-11 lead behind kills from Shifflet, Novak and Steffan.

The Lady Flames built the lead to 22-14 on a Greenfield kill and won the first set 25-16.

Sweet Home came out strong in the second set, leading 7-4, but East tied the set at 8-8, and Steffan went on a nine-point serving run that put East ahead 17-8.

With the Lady Flames trailing 7-3 in the third set, Novak went on a 15-point serving run, which included four aces.

The Flames closed out the set behind two kills each from Orsini and Shifflet.

Shifflet led East with 17 kills and a .583 hitting percentage and 10 digs.

Also contributing to the win were Novak (11 kills, 12 digs, 5 aces), Mendelsohn (22 digs), Greenfield (36 assists, 2 kills), Orsini (7 kills, 4 blocks), Benz (8 digs), Jozwuak (3 kills) and Steffan (3 kills).

“We were pretty steady and took care of business,” Wright said.

Rachel Reusch (15 kills, 10 digs, 3 blocks) and Claire Hiwiller (20 assists, 8 digs) paced Sweet Home.

“We played well early but could not stop their runs,” Sweet Home coach Breean Martin said. “We like playing them because they play at a pace that we don’t normally see. We honored seniors from both schools and we wore pink to raise awareness for breast cancer awareness so it was a positive night despite the loss.”

East hosted Starpoint Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Lancaster Wednesday and host St. Mary’s of Lancaster, Grand Island and Eden in the “Friday Night Lights Tournament at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Sweet Home

Reusch was also named to the All-Tournament Team at the Lady Jacks “Dig Pink” Volleyball Invitational Saturday.

Sweet Home placed second in its pool play and lost to Grand Island, 30-26, in the prequarters of the gold division. Martin also noted the play of Hiwiller and libero Hannah Sigurdson.

Sweet Home (8-4, 7-4) hosted Iroquois Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Clarence Friday.

Williamsville South

The Lady Billies’ week also included wins against Iroquois, 25-10, 25-19, 25-15, Thursday and Lockport, 25-18, 25-13, 25-17 Friday.

Against Iroquois, Postek had 14 kills, Brianna Neeley had eight kills, Stasiak handed out 17 assists and Hoffman recorded 10 digs.

Against Lockport, Postek posted 20 kills and Stasiak handed out 11 assists.

South lost to Portville, 30-18, in the gold quarterfinals at the Lady Jacks “Dig Pink” Volleyball Invitational Saturday. Postek was named to the All-Tournament Team.

In recent matches, the Lady Billies defeated West Seneca East, 25-15, 25-11, 25-20 Sept. 28; Sweet Home, 25-18, 25-22, 25-23, Oct. 1, Starpoint, 25-22, 25-20, 25-20 Oct. 3, Lake Shore, 25-15, 25-21, 25-14, Oct. 6 and Nardin, 25-20, 25-21, 25-15 Oct. 7.

Sproull said he can’t remember the last time South won both regular-season meeting against Sweet Home.

“Both teams were not making a ton of unforced errors,” Sproull said. “I was pleased with how we played.”

Postek led the offense with 24 kills and 11 digs. Grace Stahl had six kills and six digs.

Hoffman posted 24 digs. Stasiak added 22 assists and eight digs.

Postek posted 24 kills against Starpoint and Stasiak handed out 20 assists, and Hoffman supplied 23 digs.

Against Lake Shore, Postek had 23 kills, Jenna Wild handed out 12 assist, Hoffman posted 18 digs and Stasiak had seven kills.

Against Nardin, Postek recorded 21 kills, Stasiak distributed 21 assists and Hoffman recorded 13 digs.

South (10-4, 8-3) traveled to West Seneca East Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. South travels to Orchard Park Wednesday and hosts North Tonawanda Friday.

(Reporter Patrick J. Nagy contributed to the article)

Amherst volleyball drops league matches
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Amherst’s girls volleyball team dropped ECIC III matches against Maryvale, 20-25, 13-25, 13-25, Tuesday, Oct. 13, and Pioneer, 16-25, 19-25, 17-25, Wednesday, Oct. 14.

Amherst coach Rachel Schepart said her team played a great first game against Maryvale but could not keep with the Lady Flyers’ strong hitters.

Contributing to the Lady Tigers were senior outside hitter Gabby Lasher (2 kills, 7 digs), junior middle hitter Mykela Moore (dig, 2 blocks, ace), sophomore outside hitter Hannah Bardeen (3 digs), sophomore middle hitter Carolina Seaner (3 blocks), sophomore setter Mia Ciccarella (5 aces, 3 assists, 4 digs), sophomore right side hitter Elizabeth Hall (ace, 2 kills), and freshman libero Erica Norris (ace, assist, 5 digs).

Pacing Amherst against Pioneer were Lasher (2 aces, 2 kills, 8 digs), Bardeen (4 aces, dig), Moore (2 kills, 2 blocks), Ciccarella (3 aces, assist, dig), Norris (8 digs) and Hall (dig).

Amherst (2-12, 1-10) faced Depew Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. It was Amherst’s senior night. Lasher and Mykayla Harber are the only two seniors on the roster.

Lady Spartans split league matches
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Williamsville North’s girls volleyball team split its ECIC Division I matches this week, losing to Clarence, 14-25, 17-25, 19-25, at home Tuesday, Oct. 13, and winning at West Seneca West, 25-17, 25-19, 25-22, Thursday.

North is 3-9 in ECIC I.

The Clarence match was a microcosm of North’s season.

“We would play well for a while and in each game we would give up a run of a bunch of points,” North coach Keith Hopkins said. “In game one, it was 11-11 and we could not get out of the rotation. We have our moments but inconsistencies are still hurting us.”

Lauren Curtis recorded nine kills against Clarence.

Hopkins said his team played consistent against West Seneca West.

“We never gave them any runs to get back into the game,” he said.

Elise Hopkins led the North offense with 15 kills. Curtis added 10 kills and Noelle Gulick supplied eight kills.

Abby Vincent handed out 36 assists.

North closed out the week by losing to Clarence, 30-17, in the gold division quarterfinals of the Lady Jacks “Dig Pink” Invitational Saturday at North Tonawanda.

In pool play, North defeated Hamburg and Lewiston-Porter and lost to Williamsville East. They beat Sacred Heart, 30-20, in the first playoff match.

Elise Hopkins was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Coach Hopkins said Elise Hopkins played consistent, although he also noted the play of Gulick at middle hitter and freshman left side hitter Allie Macon, serving eight straight points against Hamburg, and liberos Maddie Farber and Cassandra Rosen.

Throughout the tournament, Coach Hopkins attributed the team’s success to strong serve-receiving.

North (9-14-1) hosted Hamburg Monday, but information about the game was unavailable before press time.

North travels to Lockport Thursday.

Clarence Boys volleyball team makes progress at OP tourney
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Clarence’s boys volleyball team, which had been playing through a mini-slump as of late, “made a lot of progress” during its appearance in Saturday’s Orchard Park Tournament, according to coach Kevin Starr.

After going 2-4 in pool play thanks to splits with St. Francis and Eden, the Red Devils — who then beat St. Francis in a one-game playoff, 15-13, to determine seeding — took down unbeaten Niagara Frontier League leader Grand Island in the quarterfinals, 30-27, to earn a rematch with Eden in the semifinals.

Clarence earned a split in the first two games and was serving for the match with a 15-14 lead when the ball was called out by the official. The Red Devils went on to lose that decisive set, 18-16, only to have several other coaches and players who were watching the match say, according to Starr, that “the serve that was called out was actually in and should have ended the match for us.”

“It’s a tough break to lose due to a missed call — especially to a team that was the only one to take even a single set from Canisius, the top-ranked team in the state — but we still made a lot of progress during the tournament,” Starr said. “Sophomore Shawn Trznadel came up from the JV for the day, and he stepped in and performed very well for us. He’s going to give us some additional options once the sectional playoffs start.”

Eighth grade libero Teddy Payne had another solid day, Starr said, noting that “he has a real sense for where the ball is going, and his confidence is growing every week.” Payne’s brother Henry was Clarence’s leader again offensively, hitting over .500 for the day and was voted to the tournament all-star team for the second time this season.

Clarence entered the tournament looking to bounce back after falling to Lancaster on Wednesday, 23-25, 16-25, 25-21, 22-25. Henry Payne led Clarence with 28 kills, while Ben Janzow added 12 kills. Dalton Squires had 40 assists.

“The second game was a bit of a disaster, but other than that this match truly could have gone either way,” Starr said. “We were better in all phases of the game than we’d been in a while.”

Clarence closed out the league portion of its season Tuesday with its Senior Night match against Frontier, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Red Devils will travel to Canisius Tuesday and then go to Williamsville South on Thursday, Oct. 29, to close out their regular season.

Lockport Volleyball Club to hold tryouts for upcoming season
Ken-Ton Bee
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Lockport Volleyball Club will be holding tryouts for the upcoming season in November.

The tryout dates are from 6 to 7:45 p.m. (15s) and from 7:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (16s) on Tuesday, Nov. 10; 6 to 7:45 p.m. (13s, 14s) and 7:45 to 9:30 p.m. (17s, 18s) on Thursday, Nov. 12; and from 6 to 7:45 p.m. (12s and younger) on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

All tryouts will be held at North Park Junior High, 160 Passaic Ave., Lockport. No previous volleyball experience is needed and is open to any boy in Western New York.

Players as young as age 10 can try out. The oldest group is for 18-year-olds.

A player’s club age is determined by how old he is on August 31, 2016. Players need to try out for their age group unless the club director has given you specific permission to try out for an older team.

Teams play in tournaments during the winter and spring and travel to regional and national conferences.

Players (guardians) will need to fill out and complete a USA Volleyball youth and junior volleyball player medical release form at https://drive.google.com/file/ d/0B15PaDLppoarczZ3clhNdVRmOEE/ view?pli=1.

Players will also need to be registered with the Western Empire Volleyball Association at www.wevavolleyball.org/G-Reg-O.asp) prior to tryouts.

The non-refundable fee is $62 and covers the entire club season. There is no additional tryout fee.

For more information, visit http://lockportvbc. blogspot.com/.

Western New York 2015 Boys Top 10 Poll - 10/20/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS
1. Canisius (12) 120
2. Orchard Park 108
3. Eden 96
4. Lancaster 64
5. West Seneca West 61
6. Frontier 58
7. Hamburg 54
8. Clarence 46
9. Grand Island 32
10. Williamsville South 13


Western New York 2015 Girls Top 10 Poll - 10/20/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
T-1. Williamsville East (4) 86
T-1. Clarence (4) 86
3. Lancaster 64
4. Orchard Park 56
5. Hamburg 40
6. Kenmore West 37
7. Niagara Wheatfield 33
8. Williamsville South 21
9. Sweet Home 19
10. Grand Island 13
Also receiving votes: Williamsville North.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (5) 60
2. Eden 54
3. Portville 40
4. Nardin 35
5. Southwestern 32
6. City Honors 30
7. North Collins 28
8. Albion 25
9. Panama 14
T-10. Sacred Heart 8
T-10. Randolph 8
Also receiving votes: Immaculata and Chautauqua Lake.

High School Extra / Oct. 18
Buffalo News
Sunday, October 18, 2015


Clarence Meghan Neelon slips the ball past Orchard Park’s Elizabeth Chow during
their match at Clarence Monday, October 19, 2015. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)


Quakers win own tournament
Buffalo News
Sunday, October 18, 2015

Orchard Park won the third set from Eden, 15-12, to win the championship of its own boys volleyball tournament Saturday.

The Quakers reached the finals by defeating Hamburg in two sets in the semifinals while Eden outlasted Clarence in three sets.

Orchard Park defeated Lake Shore, Grand Island and St. Joe’s in pool play while Eden was winning over Hamburg, St. Francis and Clarence in its pool.

Clarence won a play-in set over St. Francis, then defeated Grand Island in one quarterfinal. Hamburg eliminated St. Joe’s in the other.

The all-tournament team: Ryan Dills (Hamburg), Henry Payne (Clarence), Declan Pierce (Eden), Calvin Nowicki (Eden), Cameron Hassen (Orchard Park), Spencer Eagleton (Orchard Park).

Jason Manley of Orchard Park was the tournament MVP.

Hamburg tops Frontier in girls volleyball rivalry
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Saturday, October 17, 2015

When Katie Seider went down with an injury in late September, it forced Hamburg girls volleyball coach John Crangle to reshuffle his lineup.

Seider, who is expected back for the playoffs, is a three-year varsity player, a senior co-captain and a starting right side. It was a big loss. 

But the impact of not having her has been lessened by sophomore Kailee Herbst, an outside hitter who’s taken on Seider’s old role on the right since she went down. 

And what a job she’s done. Herbst proved while at crosstown rival Frontier Oct. 8 for an ECIC I match that the Bulldogs are still a forceful team even without one of their leaders. 

Herbst was on fire against the Falcons, recording 16 kills to pace Hamburg to a 25-21, 25-11 and 25-16 triumph.

“Kailee got moved over and she’s responded really well, which she showcased (against Hamburg),” Crangle said. “Coming in, I think not a lot of people knew who she was, being a younger girl. As the season progresses I think more and more people are starting to realize who she is.”

So, who is Herbst? 

She’s in her second season with the team, moving from being a member of the supporting cast in 2014 to the main one this fall, as Crangle pointed out. 

“She believes in herself, the team believes in her, I believe in her,” Crangle said. “She’s moving all along the net, moving on the right, moving on the outside. She has high court IQ.”

“Last year I was a little uncomfortable being on the court,” Herbst said. “It’s a faster-paced game being on varsity and this year I think that I’m more up to speed with everything. I’ve been able to keep my head in the game.”

Hamburg moved to 6-4 in ECIC I with the victory while the Falcons dropped to 2-7 in league action. It also gave the Bulldogs the two-game regular-season series sweep of their rival. 

Lara McCormick dished out 29 assists in the win while fellow senior co-captain Maddie Shafer was “lights out” from her libero position, like she has been all year, Crangle said. 

Stephanie Ciesla, also a senior co-captain, had seven kills while sophomore Eleanor Clarke, whose court time has increased since Seider’s injury, chipped in with a handful of kills.

For Frontier, sophomore libero Cami Duggan notched nine digs and was solid in serve-receive. Senior co-captain Kirstie Hall had three blocks. 

The Falcons also played the match without one of their key players. Senior Sam Murray, the outside who was coming off an eight-ace, seven-kill performance versus Williamsville North two days prior, was unavailable due to an injury. 

“First and third game they were playing with passion and intensity,” Frontier coach Debby Schruefer said. “Second game, some letdown, lack of communication. The bottom line is we just have to keep the intensity up the whole time. That’s something we’ve been working on.”

The Bulldogs really got rolling against the Falcons in Game Two, during which they closed on a 15-1 run. They then jumped out to an 11-4 edge in the third game. 

The hot stretch displayed how balanced and versatile Hamburg’s offense is, how accurate the serving can be, and the mobility of the defense. 

“One of the things we did well was we hit our spot serving and that really dictated where they set the ball,” Crangle said. “It picked up our defense. We established the middle and they didn’t really know where we were going with it. You want to be the aggressor and we did that pretty well.”

Hamburg has been able to assemble complete performances like that this season despite four sophomores seeing regular — and even significant since Seider’s been sidelined — court time. 

“Our goal is always to be better today than we were yesterday,” Crangle said. “And I think that’s unequivocally true. The nice thing is, because we have so many young girls, we’re just going to keep improving. And our seniors are not seniors who are going to plateau. There’s a lot of room for improvement and we’re playing pretty well right now.”

Emma Booth led the Falcons in kills in the loss to Hamburg. Schruefer noted that Booth, and outside hitter/right side, is playing many roles and has done well in all of them. 

As the Falcons push through a season in which they have an uncharacteristic sub-.500 record, Schruefer isn’t counting out her hard-working bunch. 

“They get a little timid as far as taking the bull by the horns and saying, ‘OK. Let’s finish this and get it done,’” Schruefer said. “They know what needs to be done, but sometimes they’re afraid to be the one to say that it has to get done. When they’re talking and moving, they play great. 

“It’s a new experience but I always say that it’s what you’re doing at the end.”

Both teams will compete in the North Tonawanda tournament Saturday (Oct. 17).

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

Eagles enter postseason hot, eager to prove their worth
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Saturday, October 17, 2015

At 12-1, as of Oct. 7, the North Collins girls volleyball team has smothered much of its competition this season. 

It’s the lone blemish, however, that Eagles coach Dave Burgstahler thinks is shaping his group into playoff form. 

North Collins lost a back-and-forth, five-game match at league foe Southwestern last month while a majority of its victories have been sweeps. Burgstahler said that match tested the Eagles like they hadn’t been before, and haven’t been since. 

And that’s a good thing. 

“The next two games after that Southwestern game, we were really prepared,” Burgstahler said. “We were hyped up, like, ‘Here we go. We’re not going to let that happen again.’”

That showed the coach that while the Eagles cruised through a chunk of their schedule, they can amplify the intensity and answer the tough challenges when called upon. And they will be soon.

“That’s kind of been our mantra the whole time: ‘Remember Southwestern. Remember what happened,’” Burgstahler said. “In the end it’ll definitely help us out.”

North Collins has a second chance versus Southwestern Thursday (Oct. 15) at home. It’s the Eagles’ league finale, thus one of the final tune-ups prior to the Section VI postseason, which begins in two weeks. 

It might also be a scenario where a North Collins win would claim a share of the Chautauqua Cattaraugus Athletic Association title with Southwestern.

The Eagles are the defending Class D-2 champions but this year all of the D schools will be in the same postseason bracket. With a championship attitude and the capability of pushing their limits — as was showcased versus Class C-1 Southwestern — the Eagles feel prepared for another long playoff run.

“They were right there last year, one win away from states,” Burgstahler said of NC falling shy in the 2014 Class D final. “They want it. That’s great because how can you really teach them that unless they get there? It makes my job so much easier, them having self-motivation.”

North Collins returned most of the cast from the 2014 bunch this season. 

Senior co-captain Jasmine Filkov, who sports a high passing percentage and leads the team in kills from her outside hitter position, is one of the core pieces. Her sister, junior setter Angela Filkov, is also a captain and she’s making the right choices in terms of where she sets, Burgstahler said. 

The emergence of sophomore Courtney Wilson as a dependable right side gives North Collins a luxury it didn’t have last fall. Primarily a setter in the past, Wilson is getting more kill opportunities and making the most of them. 

Between Wilson and Jasmine Filkov finishing, the Eagles’ offense is dynamic. 

“In our league I don’t see a whole lot of other teams setting the right side as much as we do,” Burgstahler said. “It’s almost a 50-50 split. It’s a huge weapon for us.”

In addition to great success during the regular season, North Collins also won its own tournament Oct. 3 and took second at the Falconer tournament early in the season. 

Burgstahler noted up-tempo practices that feature the constant implementation of new and different drills have kept NC ready for anything. 

So, yes, sometimes the Eagles flex their muscles against opponents that aren’t at their level in the form of quick, three-game matches. At the same time, they’re always near that proverbial switch, able to flip it. 

Like in those tournaments or against Southwestern, for example. 

“If we have to go to five sets, we’re ready to go,” Jasmine Filkov said. “We’re already in gear. We may be playing decent teams now that we might sweep, but we’re ready to go to five if we have to, which we might have to do in sectionals.”

“With Southwestern, those are the games we want,” Wilson said. “Even against Southwestern, we didn’t get tired and we kept the intensity up.”

This season, the Eagles have attacked opponents with quick-paced serves and accurate, sensible hitting. Just as they did en route to the 2014 overall D title game.

The only big difference in NC’s lineup in comparison to last season is the middles. It has two young starting middles in sophomore Isabelle Wroblewski and freshman Baylee Romano while junior Emma Dosser and senior Kim Gick rotate in.

Burgstahler believes that once a full connection is found at the position, the Eagles will become that much stronger. 

Freshman Rose Filkov is a reliable libero while seventh grader Deanne Wilson has filled in nicely as a defensive specialist. Sophomore co-captain Morgan Mathis contributes good swings at outside hitter. 

It’s a group that’s getting set to prove it wasn’t a one-year wonder. 

“We’ve been playing together for a while,” Jasmine Filkov said. “I know that we can take the extra step because we were there last year. It makes us all want to get back again.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

Eden sees growth, maturity from Rigley, enters beefy part of schedule
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Saturday, October 17, 2015


Photos / Karen Gioia Eden’s Collin Rigley (13) bumps
the ball during the game against Amherst on Oct. 9.


Following a loss to Western New York’s top boys volleyball team, Robert Pierce, the coach of another premier program, Eden, huddled his group for the usual postgame chat in a corner of Canisius’ gym. 

Not one to sugarcoat his high expectations, Pierce directly told his talented sophomore outside hitter, Collin Rigley, that more was needed of him that night. 

“I got on him pretty hard after the game,” Pierce said after the Raiders, a small school, fell in three close games to the Crusaders, who remained unbeaten, Oct. 7. “But I wouldn’t get on a kid if I didn’t think that he could go to the next level. I’ve seen him do it once in his life already, and I know he has more in there.”

Rigley played for last year’s sectional finalist but wasn’t heavily featured. This season, though, he has a prominent place on a squad that has the talent to contend for both a section and state championship. 

And the reason Pierce schedules tough nonleaguers, like the one against Canisius and future ones down the stretch versus West Seneca West, Orchard Park and Hamburg, is to expose his players to the level they need to be at for the postseason. 

They’re especially crucial for potential-laden guys like Rigley, who, when on, lifts Eden to a state that makes it difficult to defeat. With his height and high-end hitting ability he’s flashed, Pierce thinks once he learns to get more consistent against elite opponents, he can be a real difference-maker. 

“I’m going to make him uncomfortable,” Pierce said. “That’s how you learn. When you’re two years younger than everybody else, it’s difficult. (Going against Canisius) was a great opportunity for him. He just missed the boat a little bit. But I’ve seen this kid take over matches, just the way he jumps.”

Rigley isn’t your average sophomore. He’s 6-foot-2 and takes constructive criticism maturely, Pierce said. 

Chalk that up to him being around older, accomplished players all the time. 

Eden teammates like Declan Pierce, the Penn State commit, Cal Nowicki, one of the area’s most gifted setters, and Connor Basinski, the steady opposite. They’re all senior leaders for Eden who Rigley credits with shaping his own budding guidance skills.

Robert Pierce lauded the way his skillful veterans, Declan Pierce, Nowicki and Basinski, played versus Canisius and tuned out a rowdy, boisterous student section, which created a “hostile environment.”

“I’ve been around those guys and they’ve really taken me under their wing,” Rigley said. “I’m not one of the older guys on the court, but I am one of the more experienced. I didn’t bring my ‘A’ game (versus Canisius). It hurts to let down the team like that but now I have to show guys that even when my game is off I can still set an example.”

While Pierce said Rigley wasn’t quite ready to perform at his best that night, he’s confident that time will come before the end of the fall.

“His answers are correct. His eye contact is correct,” Robert Pierce said. “That’s half the battle, when you know what you’re saying to a player is actually starting to sink in. He’s a really good player.”

To ensure he maximizes his play, Rigley said he’s going to get back to the weight room and work to find the right mental state. When his mindset is right and he’s aggressive, that’s when Rigley enters that take-over-the-match mode Pierce has seen before. 

“I have strong feel for the game, and when I’m in my rhythm I’m exponentially better than when I’m overthinking things and I’m stiff,” Rigley said. “I can play like a roller coaster sometimes. Too low of lows. I have to deliver more consistently and keep it level. With this experience, it’ll come.”

How dynamic is the offense when Rigley is on and complementing the other outside hitter, Declan Pierce, a fifth-year starter whose hitting percentage is through the roof? 

“We’re going to be tough to stop,” Rigley said. “Against many teams we have the benefit of talent and experience. With that perfect blend, we can do some special things.”

“It can be devastating,” Declan Pierce said. “We’re going for a state title. We can’t take any breaks. It’s a constant battle. We’ve worked hard for this and we’re going to keep going.”

Going into the mammoth matchup versus Canisius, the Raiders were coming off a couple-week stretch in which they weren’t tested much, winning all of their ECIC III matches handily. 

They’re on pace to run the table in their division, which is nothing new. That’s why Robert Pierce designs the schedule the way it is. 

Eden participated in the distinguished Penfield tournament Saturday (Oct. 10). That’s in addition to the other nonleague matches versus established programs. It’s done in an effort to rid the inexperienced players of jitters and toughen Eden up for what it hopes to be a lengthy postseason ride. 

The Section VI Division II postseason starts Oct. 30.

“If we could play (Canisius) once a week, that would be awesome,” said Robert Pierce, whose squad beat the 15-time defending Monsignor Martin champs in 2014. “To me, it’s, ‘All right, we’ve coasted a little bit, now we have to start sprinting.’ I feel good about where we’re headed.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

Kurkowiak’s position switch pays off for IA volleyball
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Saturday, October 17, 2015

When Karly Kurkowiak was a sophomore on JV, Immaculata volleyball coach Kyle Shanley noticed she was a “terrific passer” and that she was always around the ball. 

Kurkowiak was an outside hitter at the time, but Shanley thought those attributes could be better utilized at libero. 

So the next season, Kurkowiak switched to that role, after spending all her prior volleyball years as a hitter. 

The transition has worked splendidly. Kurkowiak learned the intricate position quickly and she’s found a comfortable home there. 

This fall, as a senior co-captain, Kurkowiak is showing full confidence on the floor.

The growing pains involved in learning a foreign position have come and gone, and Kurkowiak has made libero an area of strength for the Bears. 

“I’ve come a long way,” Kurkowiak said. “This year since I’m confident in myself, it helps me pick up other people to do a better job, and not just focus on me. I felt like that’s what I had to do last year because I didn’t know my position as well.”

Kurkowiak, a West Seneca resident, has played for Niagara Frontier Volleyball Club for a handful of years, spending most of them as an outside hitter. But following her switch to libero last school season, she continued there during the club session. 

All of the reps have made her look like a seasoned libero who’s been digging and playing superb defense for as long as she was swinging as a hitter.

“It’s a very hard position to learn, and she learned it easily and quickly,” Shanley said. “It’s something that has to be perfected. It takes kids a while to learn how to play that position thoroughly, and she’s done a tremendous job at it.”

“It took me probably halfway through (junior) year, and then I got really comfortable,” Kurkowiak said. “It was just figuring out the different techniques and footwork I needed in the back row.”

Shanley called Kurkowiak a “pivotal” component of the team. It’s easy to see why with the way she sacrifices for the ball and has evolved into an on-court leader. 

As of press time, the Bears are 3-3 in Monsignor Martin Athletic Association action as the postseason creeps closer. When it arrives, Shanley knows he has a libero who can control the big hits and bring steadiness to the back row. 

That ability lends credibility to Shanley identifying Kurkowiak’s fortes, and converting her so that she could fully showcase them.

“With an athlete like Karly, when you get comfortable doing something, you just get hungrier for the ball,” Shanley said. “She’s all over the court. She’s one of our most consistent players. The reason why she is a captain is because she’s the most vocal and mobile person on the court. The kid would give up any part of her body to play the ball.”

Kurkowiak wasn’t playing with the same aplomb as she is now as a junior. Early on last fall, she was still adapting to life as a libero. 

Quiet off the court, Kurkowiak has been vocal on it in 2015. That wasn’t the case in 2014, and she attributes that to being hesitant while in an unfamiliar spot. 

But the senior’s increased confidence has been felt throughout the entire lineup this year. Once Kurkowiak found she could make an impact at libero, her vocal encouragement went up a notch, and so did Immaculata’s overall play. 

“I’m definitely louder and I feel that helps us do better,” Kurkowiak said. “Last year I was so much quieter because I was timid. Now I’m confident in myself. I talk with my play, too, so I really show by my action and my love for the game.”

Given her passing skill and mobility in the back row, Kurkowiak is finding libero to be the ideal position for her. Not to mention the fact that Kurkowiak never had the towering height that some outsider hitters do on varsity. 

The change made sense at the time, and even more sense now. 

“I could never really hit a ball straight down, so that was always frustrating,” Kurkowiak said. “My vertical was never big. I just like moving and being that person diving all over the place. I actually like libero better.”

“She takes care of everything for us — anything on the court, anything off the court,” Shanley said. “She makes sure she’s the person who stays tough.”


Senior middle Jordan Heinold has given a jolt to the Bears since playing her first game of the season Sept. 30. Shanley noted the reason that Heinold, a hoops star who scored her 1000th point in an IA uniform last winter, joined the squad late was because she was finishing up her AAU season.

She’s been effective with blocking, hitting and serving since coming aboard. Sophomores Erin Wright (outside hitter) and Megan Schweickert (right side) have also contributed nicely, Shanley noted. 

The key for Immaculata heading into the postseason is to sustain the high level of play it’s flashed at times.

“When this team is clicking on all cylinders, it’s tough to beat,” Shanley said. “The problem is getting the car running. The one thing I really appreciate about this team is they don’t like to disappoint themselves and they work hard for one another.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

Canisius wins in five
Buffalo News
Saturday, October 17, 2015

For the first time this season, the Canisius volleyball team played five sets. With their backs against the wall, the Crusaders won the final two sets to defeat Section V’s McQuaid, 18-25, 25-13, 18-25, 25-19, 25-21.

“I think those are possibly the best two teams in New York State right now and it was a big win for us,” Canisius coach Tom Weislo said. “We tightened up our blocking and defense quite a bit in the fifth set. We scored six points off blocks including the winning point.”

Griffin Schmit had 35 kills and Charlie Desmond 54 assists as Canisius improved to 26-0.

Honors tops Sacred Heart
Buffalo News
Friday, October 16, 2015

City Honors evened its girls volleyball record at 5-5 with a five-set win at Sacred Heart 26-16, 25-15, 23-25, 22-25 and 25-21. Julia Panepinto finished with 36 assists, 10 kills, 10 digs and three aces for City Honors.

High School Extra (Oct. 15): Canisius volleyball goes to 24-0
Buffalo News
Thursday, October 15, 2015

Canisius ran its record to 5-0 in Monsignor Martin Association volleyball with a three-set sweep of St. Joe’s on Wednesday night, 25-4, 25-10 and 25-15.

Devin Juslyn had 12 kills while Charles Desmond had 31 assists for the Crusaders (24-0 overall), the No. 1 ranked team in the Western New York Coaches Poll.

In girls volleyball, No. 6 ranked Kenmore West moved into a tie for first place with Niagara-Wheatfield in Niagara Frontier League girls volleyball by defeating Grand Island in three sets. Dana Mancuso had five kills, five aces and nine digs for the Blue Devils (12-1, 10-1 NFL). Sammy Veronica had 15 assists, three digs and two aces. Kenmore West and No. 7 Niagara-Wheatfield will meet next Wednesday in the match that will decide the league title.

Iroquois girls volleyball takes second at tourney
East Aurora Bee
Thursday, October 15, 2015

Iroquois’ girls volleyball team finished first in pool place and was the overall runner-up at Saturday’s West Seneca Invitational Tournament at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center. The Lady Chiefs were upended, 2-1, by host West Seneca West in the best-of-three final. Members of the team include, from left: front row - Michaela Hoeflich, Marissa Parker, Missy Geil, Marina Caparaso, Elena Grossman; back row - coach Mark Dubel, Courtney Kling, Anne Feneziani, Leah Krzemien, Hannah Gnojek, Megan Stynes and Liz Cej.

Iroquois’ girls volleyball closed out a busy week of action Saturday by taking host West Seneca West to the brink in the championship match of the BNCC Invitational before falling, 2-1, to place second overall.

Iroquois, which won pool “C” with a 6-2 record that included sweeps of Roy-Hart and Starpoint, began its playoff run by knocking off Cheektowaga in the quarterfinals, 30-21, behind the passing of Missy Geil, Hannah Gnojek, Alex McBride and Megan Stynes, and the hitting of Leah Krzemien, Marissa Parker and Elena Grossman.

Marina Caparaso picked apart the Lady Warriors’ serve receive as she and her teammates put together an 11-point serving run through the second half of the set.

The Lady Chiefs then handed pool “B” winner Immaculata its first loss of the day in the semifinals, 30-27. Parker led the offense and defense during the match from her middle hitter position and peppered the Immaculata defense from every spot in the front row.

Outside hitter Anne Feneziani delivered a couple of well-timed kills, while Geil, Krzemien and Liz Cej all frustrated Immaculata with key digs to keep the momentum on the side of the Lady Chiefs.

Iroquois then came out strong in the championship game against the winners of pool “A” by utilizing its talents on both offense and defense. Setter Marina Caparaso was assisting hitters Krzemien, Parker, Grossman and Michaela Hoeflich, and the Lady Chiefs continued to serve just as consistently through the match as they had done throughout the day.

“Minimizing serving errors is a continual goal for the team and they knew it was an important part to being successful at the tournament — and it also contributed to our first-set win,” coach Mark Dubel said.

The second set of the match didn’t bring as much success for Iroquois as the run up to and through the playoffs started to take its toll. At this point the Lady Chiefs had been playing consecutively for nearly three hours and, Dubel said, “they weren’t making passes that they normally would have and did make earlier in the day.”

“We got a little slower in getting our blockers into position, and West was able to hit a little more freely because we didn’t make the passes that we needed to,” Dubel said. “That lead to West tying the match at one game each.”

West opened up an early 8-2 lead in the decisive set to 15 as the Lady Chiefs’ serve receive was slow getting to the ball, and Iroquois’ hitters had trouble finishing their hits. Despite the early deficit and the fatigue, the Lady Chiefs refused to quit as Caparaso continued to set Parker, Hoeflich, Grossman and Kling before eventually losing, 15-10.

Iroquois’ busy week kicked off October 5 with a 25-19, 25-6, 25-17 conquest of Depew during its fourth annual Dig Pink Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser. A basket raffle and bake sale were held at the rally in addition to a car wash that was held earlier this season, with all proceeds going to the Side Out Foundation. Between all of the fundraising efforts, Iroquois was able to make a donation of $2,341 for breast cancer research and survivor support.

The donation also helped the team surpass their goal of $10,000 donated to the foundation over the last four years.

“A special thanks go to all the families, players, fans and community members who supported the events this year, and to Stephanie Kirsch, who coordinated both the car wash and the Dig Pink Rally event,” Dubel said.

Grossman led Iroquois’ efforts during the match with 11 kills, while Parker chipped in with four kills and four aces. Caparaso dished out 20 assists for the Lady Chiefs, who dropped a 21-25, 22-25, 21-25 decision to City Honors the next day. Iroquois had edged the non-league Lady Centaurs earlier in the season, 3-2.

“We knew they were a good team from our first match and expected another tough one,” Dubel said.

After a strong start that pushed Iroquois out front, 15-7, City Honors regrouped following a time out and started to chip away at the lead as the Lady Centaurs found some holes in Iroquois defense. The Lady Chiefs couldn’t slow City Honors’ attack as it eventually tied the match at 18-18 and then took the lead for good at 22-21.

Difficulty passing both the serves and hits lead to the Lady Chiefs’ trailing by wide margins early in both the second and third games, and while Dubel said the team battled back in both sets, the Lady Chiefs weren’t able to overcome the early deficits.

A similar fate awaited Iroquois in Thursday’s 14-25, 17-25, 11-25 loss to undefeated league leader Williamsville East.

The Lady Flames bring two powerful outside hitters to the table, and they delivered what Dubel classified as “a relentless attack” on the Iroquois defense. Geil, Parker and Feneziani still managed to pass consistently, while Grossman, Hoeflich and Kling battled on the net throughout the match.

Iroquois returned to action Tuesday at West Seneca East, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Lady Chiefs (2-6 ECIC II) close out their week this evening by hosting Williamsville South.

(Reporter Jason Nadolinski contributed to this article.)

Maryvale’s girls volleyball squad inches closer to perfect season
Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, October 15, 2015

Maryvale’s girls volleyball team triumphantly responded to some of its first tastes of adversity during its recent stretch of four matches to remain undefeated with the end of the regular season rapidly approaching.

The Lady Flyers began their run September 30 by beating Pioneer (25-17, 25-10, 24-26, 25-21) in a match that saw Maryvale not win in three sets for the first time all year.

The Lady Flyers — who went 4-12 last season — were led by sophomore captain Julia Carter’s 11 kills and five aces, while junior Emily Raczynski had 20 assists and two aces in what was Maryvale’s first match of the second half of the season.

“The girls were a little disappointed [about not winning in three] but I was OK with the fact that it had happened,” coach Tina Raczynski said. “It was unrealistic to think that we could continue to win in three.”

Depew extended Maryvale’s not-winning in-three-sets method of victory to two matches October 2 when the Lady Flyers emerged from their match as victors in four (25-18, 20-25, 25-15, 25-17).

Coach Raczynski said that “this was the game that worried me the most,” as the Lady Wildcats — who were turning things around after starting the season out slowly — entered the match on a two-game winning streak.

In the end, coach Raczynski’s worry was for naught as senior captain Michelle Richardson had 22 assists, senior captain Brianna Henry had seven kills, eight blocks and three aces, and senior captain Shannon Mowry had five digs and two kills.

“Depew has some good players on that team and they don’t want to lose, and they played a great match against us,” coach Raczynski said. “We knew we were in for a tough night when we played them, and they made us work for every point. Luckily we came out with the win.”

Maryvale then took down East Aurora (25-20, 25-18, 25-23) on October 6 to start the beginning of what coach Raczynski said was “a long week for us.” Carter had nine kills and four aces, while junior Jaelah George had six digs and a kill.

“We were a little sluggish during this match but we were able to pull it together and secure a win in three sets,” coach Raczynski said.

Maryvale then stepped out of divisional play October 7 to face crosstown rival Cleveland Hill in what would be a 3-0 win by 25-15, 25-19, 25-19 scores. Maryvale expected a top-notch effort from the Lady Eagles, whom the Lady Flyers defeated earlier this season in the title game of Cleveland Hill’s tournament, and it wasn’t disappointed.

Richardson had 10 assists, two aces and two kills to pace the victors’ efforts, while Henry had three kills, three block, three digs and two aces.

“We always enjoy playing Cleve Hill because it is always a good match between our two teams,” coach Raczynski said. “We knew going into the match that Cleve Hill had a score to settle with us because we had defeated them in the finals of their tournament, and even though we were able to pull off the win in three sets the scores don’t really tell the tale of the match; all three sets were close.

We were not serving well and we were not getting our passes up to the setters, but once we settled down and started to play our game, we were able to pull away and win the match.”

Maryvale then caught a break in its brutal week Thursday when it won its match against Buffalo East by forfeit after East failed to show for the match.

The Lady Flyers (12-0, 9-0 ECIC III) returned to action Tuesday at Amherst, but information about that contest was not available at press time. Maryvale will close out its regular season this evening by hosting Springville before traveling to crosstown rival Cheektowaga on Mond ay.

Maryvale’s match against Springville will be the Lady Flyers’ Senior Night and “Pink Out Night” that serves as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the match, which will also include recognition of the team’s six seniors as well as the raffling off of prizes.

“We are excited to play all three teams that we will be to bring our regular season to a close, and we know that Springville and Cheektowaga will both definitely be battles,” coach Raczynski said. “We had goals at the beginning of the season to obtain a better record than last year and a higher seed in sectionals, but never in our wildest dreams did we think we would be in this situation where we’re undefeated and on a run to potentially win the division. We knew we were better than our record showed last year, and these girls have worked hard to make this season better.”

(Reporter Jason Nadolinski contributed to this article.)

Maryvale boys volleyball pushes win streak to seven
Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, October 15, 2015

Maryvale’s boys volleyball team continued to march through the competition recently, pushing its current winning streak to seven matches with Friday’s 3-0 conquest of Holland.

The Flyers, who also swept Amherst, Cheektowaga and Niagara Falls in their three matches leading up to Friday’s victory, built up their confidence after an impressive 3-1 road win at St. Joe’s on September 29.

“The kids have handled themselves well on the road this year, approaching away matches in a professional, focused manner,” coach Andrew Murtha said. “The team has improved each week since the start of the season by working hard in practices and in the weight room. I’m very proud of them and happy for the success they are having this year after a challenging season a year ago.”

Sophomore captain and outside hitter Jordan Nosal has led the way and been the Flyers’ most consistent player this season, according to Murtha. Senior captain and setter Sean McCarthy “has made some nice adjustments to his game that have translated into a stronger offense,” Murtha said, while senior middle blocker Eric Forrest “is improving and becoming a blocking and hitting force at the net.”

Sophomore middle blocker Nate Zawadzki has stepped up his blocking and has been steady and aggressive at the service line during the Flyers’ run, while senior outside hitter Adam Dommer has found his game and, according to Murtha, “is a more relaxed and confident player lately.” Senior Michael Ferguson has been strong and is playing smart volleyball by hitting different shots and blocking well at the net, while senior libero Ryan Mc- Carthy has made some improvements to his game to where, according to Murtha, “his increased consistency passing has been a major part of our success.”

Freshman Thomas Frain has been a reliable and versatile contributor off the bench, Murtha said, with that versatility allowing him to be able to go into any position in any situation and produce. Seniors Jimmy Urshel and Craig Boeheim also continue to work hard and make contributions off the bench, while freshman JV call-up Jason McCarthy has also contributed and looked more comfortable in his recent appearances, according to Murtha.

The Flyers hit the road — where they are currently undefeated — Wednesday for a showdown with perennial powerhouse Eden, but information abut that contest was not available at press time.

Maryvale (10-2, 8-1 league) resumes league play by traveling to East Aurora Tuesday, and then hosting Depew Wednesday.

South boys volleyball falls in semifinals at Lockport Tourney
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter, Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Williamsville South’s boys volleyball team reached the semifinals of the Lockport Tournament Saturday, losing to host school Lockport, 22-25, 20-25, in the semifinals.

“We played strong in the first game and only lost by three,” South coach Thom Knab said. “We didn’t have enough in the second set and we struggled with our passing. That has been a battle for us all year. When we pass well, we can play well and play a complete game.”

The Billies went 5-1 in pool play, splitting games with St. Francis, 25-17, 23-25, and beating Medina/Lyndonville, 25-13, 25-19; and North Tonawanda, 25-22, 25-19.

Joe Zanelotti — named to the All-Tournament Team — recorded 42 kills.

“Joe has been the heart and soul of the team,” Knab said. “He leaves everything all on the court.”

Shawn Barbalato posted 14 kills.

Knab also noted the play of libero Nico Zanelotti.

The Billies improved to 8-0 in ECIC II after rallying to beat Starpoint in five games Monday, Oct. 5 and beating Lake Shore, 25-15, 25-17, 25-19, Wednesday, Oct. 7.

South won the first set against Starpoint, 25-16, lost the next two sets, 22-25 and 25-27, and won the fourth and fifth games, 25-13 and 25-10.

“We get in a mode where we wait for the other team to make a mistake,” Knab said. “In the last two games they played the game to win the point and not wait for the other team to make a mistake. We were more aggressive and starting passing better too.”

Joe Zanelotti was responsible for 40 of the Billies’ 120 points, recording 28 kills and 12 aces. Barbalato contributed 13 kills and four blocks and Dan Proch added seven kills.

Zanelotti recorded 22 kills and three aces and Barbalato had 11 kills against Lake Shore.

The Billies also downed St. Joe’s 25-21, 25-13, 24-26, 25-22, in a non-league match Friday. Zanelotti recorded 27 kills and three aces.

“We passed well and put up a decent defense,” Knab said. “We had 50 kills between different players. We were able to take advantage of their blocking.”

South (11-3 overall) hosts Williamsville East in its “Dig Pink” match Wednesday, Oct. 14. Both teams use a pink ball and the players wear pink socks and shoelaces. Last year over $600 was raised for research and support services for breast cancer.

South travels to Iroquois Friday.

East girls volleyball improves to 10-0
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Williamsville East’s girls volleyball team continued its impressive season with three-set road victories over West Seneca East, 25-8, 25-11, 25-6, Tuesday, Oct. 6 and Iroquois, 25-13, 25-16, 25-11 Thursday.

East is 9-0 in ECIC II and 10-0 overall.

East hit .516 against West Seneca East and recorded 10 blocks and nine aces.

Senior Carly Shifflet (9 kills, 5 digs) and junior Lexi Novak (6 kills, 11 digs) led the offense.

Sophomore Makayla Greenfield posted 22 assists, five digs and three aces.

Also contributing were juniors Leah Orsini (3 kills, 5 blocks), Ann Marie Jones (12 digs) and Julianna Benz (7 assists, 3 digs), sophomore Allison Jozwiak (4 kills, 4 digs), and freshman Rachel Steffan (7 kills, 3 digs).

Novak finished with 17 kills against Iroquois for a .571 hitting percentage, 10 digs, and eight aces. She had a nine-point serving run in the second set, which included five aces, and scored the last five points in the third set with three kills and two aces.

Shifflet (10 kills, 11 digs), Greenfield (35 assists), and Orsini and Steffan (3 kills each) also contributed to the win.

East hosted Williamsville South Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Sweet Home Thursday and compete in the North Tonawanda Tournament Saturday.

Shifflet leads the team with 257 kills and 227 digs. Her hitting percentage is .429. Novak leads with 49 aces and has accumulated 215 kills and 201 digs. Greenfield is averaging more than 10 assists per set for a total of 554, and is second on the team in aces with 36.

Senior libero Sam Mendelsohn, who has seen limited action due to an ankle injury, has recorded 144 digs, an average of more than seven digs per set.

CCA volleyball seeing improvement
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Christian Central Academy’s varsity girls volleyball team started out the season with a 3-0 sweep of West Seneca Christian, but then came out with two five-set games against CAWNY and Old Time Baptist.

In those two games, CCA lost the first two sets and came back to win the next two, but just didn’t have enough energy to pull off that fifth set.

They also suffered a tough loss to Lighthouse Baptist, right after they had lost their freshman setter, Kaye Terryberry, to a thumb injury.

Things began to turn around Friday when they beat Amherst Christian Academy, 3-1.

Even though junior Alyssa Guerin was out with a foot injury and Terryberry was still out, CCA fought to win the match, 3-1.

“It was tough without both of them,” senior captain Emily Miller said. “They’re key assets to the team and we weren’t sure what would happen with both of them out.”

What came was a loud, exciting victory thanks to the team’s serving.

Juniors Danielle Guerin and Gabby Briandi, along with senior Tess Giovino, really stepped up for the win against ACA, along with sophomore Jill Kasmore and freshman Sarah Gummo.

Briandi’s underhand bullet and Kasmore’s spikes helped the team efficiently obtain points. Miller’s net-play, spiking and serving got CCA some crucial points in order to win these sets.

“These girls have climbed up the ladder and have really proved to me that they can play volleyball,” coach Cathy Tom said. “With just starting a team this year, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but these girls have really exceeded my expectations.”

Inconsistent play hurts North
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Inconsistent play has been the Achilles heel for the Williamsville North girls volleyball team this season and the trend continued in ECIC I losses against Frontier, 22-25, 14-25, 25-21, 22-25, Tuesday, Oct. 6 and Orchard Park, 15-25, 17-25, 23-25, Friday. North fell to 2-8 in ECIC I.

Against Frontier, North led the first set, 21-18, and fourth set, 19-16, and lost both sets. North trailed OP in the first set, 15-13, and committed seven straight hitting errors either into the net or out of bounds. Twice North missed serves late in the third game down 21-20.

Lauren Curtis (12 kills), Noelle Gulick (8 kills) and Abby Vincent (23 assists) paced the Lady Spartans against Frontier.

Freshman Allie Macon recorded a career-high eight kills against OP, Shannon Kelly posted five kills, and Laura Saturnino added seven digs and provided energy at defensive specialist.

North (5-12-1) hosted Clarence Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. The Lady Spartans travel to West Seneca West Thursday and compete in the North Tournament Saturday.

Amherst drops matches
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Amherst’s girls volleyball team suffered ECIC III losses against Cheektowaga, 9-25, 23-25, 14-25, Tuesday, Oct. 6 and Springville, 19-25, 7-25, 14-25 Thursday, and a non-league loss against John F. Kennedy, 25-13, 17-25, 16-25, 25-18, 15-25.

Amherst coach Rachel Schepart said her team did not play up to its ability against Cheektowaga, but said her team played much better against them at the West Seneca Tournament Saturday, finishing 1-1.

“The games in the tournament were much closer and better played than in this league match,” Schepart said. “We look forward to playing them again next year.”

Contributing for Amherst were senior outside hitter Gabby Lasher

(10 digs, block, ace), sophomore outside hitter Hannah Bardeen (kill, block, 3 digs, 2 aces), junior middle hitter Mykela Moore (kill, dig, block, 6 aces), sophomore middle hitter Carolina Seaner (kill, dig), sophomore setter Mia Ciccarella (3 assists, kill, 2 digs), freshman libero Erica Norris (2 digs), and sophomore right side hitter Elizabeth Hall (assist, dig, 2 blocks).

Schepart said Lasher came out strong in the first game against Springville, which allowed the team to play a close first game against a skilled opponent.

Lasher finished with three kills and five digs.

Also contributing were Bardeen (2 kills, 2 digs, block, ace), Moore (2 kills, dig, block), Seaner (block), Ciccarella (8 assists,

2 digs), Norris (9 digs) and Hall (kill, 2 digs).

Norris paced Amherst against JFK with 25 digs. Moore led the offense with six kills and six aces, and also recorded a dig and five blocks.

Lasher had 18 hits, five kills and 24 digs.

Freshman setter Maddie Jorgensen was called up from the JV and provided 10 aces, 10 assists and seven digs in 41 sets.

Bardeen (2 aces, kill, 7 digs), Seaner (kill, dig) and Hall (kill, 2 aces, 6 digs) also contributed for the Lady Tigers.

Amherst hosted Maryvale Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. The Lady Tigers travel to Pioneer Wednesday and Nichols Friday.

Clarence Girls volleyball tops OP in clash of ECIC I powers
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Clarence’s girls volleyball team continued to churn out victories over the past couple of weeks, including a 25-15, 25-16, 25-17 triumph over Orchard Park on September 29 that ended the Lady Quakers’ undefeated run through league play.

The Lady Red Devils, who started a busy run with that key victory, took out Frontier (25-8, 25-17, 25-16) the next night on the road before closing out that week with a 25-15, 25-18, 25-14 win over West Seneca West on October 2. Clarence then added wins over Hamburg (25-19, 25-18, 25-22) on October 6 and Jamestown (25-17, 25-17, 25-16) on Thursday to improve to 11-0 in ECIC I play.

“The team continues to focus on its goal of getting better every time we practice and play, with a focus on playing our best come playoff time at the end of Octob er,” coach Michael Meyer said. “Karley King and Meghan Neelon, our co-captains, lead the way and set the tone for the team; they’re first and second in kills and digs. Karley, libero Jaide Cummings, Lindsey Leipold and defensive specialist Lexi MacDonald continue to improve their passing and defense, allowing setters Meghan Neelon and Maddie Christopher to run a diversified offense.

“Middle hitters Melissa Ratzel, Mary Owens and Emily Perna are continuing to work hard at improving themselves at the position,” Meyer continued. “Melissa leads the team in blocks and is third in kills. Our other outside hitters, Emiley Kuhn, Hannah Marlowe and Gretchen Weiss, continue to provide us with timely kills and strong right side blocking. Grayce Enderby has been hurt since the Clarence tournament but we are hoping to get her big left-handed swing back in form for playoffs.”

Clarence (16-1 overall) returned to action Tuesday at Williamsville North, but information about that match was not available at press time.

The Lady Red Devils close out their week by traveling to Lancaster Thursday before heading to North Tonawanda Saturday morning for the Lady Lumberjacks’ Tournament.

“We just need to keep doing what we’re doing, and that is to not being satisfied with our level of play while continuing to look for ways to improve,” Meyer said.

Top NCAA Volleyball Stories: October 13, 2015
Northwestern gets the best of Penn State, season-ending injury for Macey Gardner, and more
Megan Kaplon, Volleyball Magazine
Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Northwestern celebrates its five-set upset of Penn State

Northwestern defeated Penn State, handing the Nittany Lions only their second loss of the season. Northwestern sophomore Symone Abbott led the team with 17 kills and helped elevate the Wildcats to the 25-18, 23-25, 26-24, 17-25, 15-12 victory. Northwestern now boasts an 11-6 record and received two votes in this week’s AVCA Poll.

The Big Ten schedule has been rife with upsets and unexpected standout performances, but last week, it was the SEC that featured exciting battles and movement in the rankings. Arkansas entered the conference season riding high off of defeats of Wisconsin and Kansas State and then continued its win streak with big wins over LSU, Texas A&M, and Florida. But over the weekend, the Razorbacks lost to Kentucky and Tennessee, dropping them to third in the SEC rankings. Florida recently found itself in a three-match slide—falling to No. 17 in the poll after losing to Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas—but turned it around with wins over Texas A&M and Auburn, to even out its conference record 3-3. Kentucky leads the SEC with a 5-0 record.

No. 1-ranked and undefeated USC played only its second five-set match of the season, defeating Colorado 21-25, 29-27, 27-29, 25-16, 15-7. Samantha Bricio put away 17 kills and became only the third Trojan ever to surpass 1,700 kills. Alexis Austin and Gabby Simpson led Colorado with 21 kills each.

Macey Gardner, Arizona State’s senior star outside hitter who led her team to a 15-0 start, is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. The injury is heartbreaking for both Gardner—who was in the running for Player of the Year and became ASU’s career kills leader earlier this month—and her team, which since Gardner’s injury has dropped two matches (versus Washington and Washington State) in straight sets. Against Washington, the Sun Devils lost the first set 25-6, but came out strong in the second and led 20-16 when Gardner’s injury occurred. The Sun Devils lost that set 26-28, and then dropped the third 16-25 to lose the match. 

The University of Louisville cracked the top 25 this week as the team continues on its six match win streak and boasts an undefeated in-conference record. Erin Fairs leads the Cardinals in kills with 240 so far this season.

From Silver to Gold
Dalhausser and Lucena and Ludwig and Walkenhorst follow up World Tour Finals silver with gold in Puerto Vallarta
Megan Kaplon, Volleyball Magazine
Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Nick Lucena takes a swing in the Puerto Vallarta Open


A week after Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena and Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst took silver at the Swatch Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals, both teams elevated their games to gold-medal level, going undefeated on their way to winning the Puerta Vallarta Open. Each duo claimed $11,000 and 500 points. 

Dalhausser and Lucena earned a bye in the first round of the elimination bracket, thanks to a 3-0 pool-play performance, and faced countrymen Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson in the second round. Gibb and Patterson had taken out Mexico’s Juan Virgen and Ulises Ontiveros in the first round but came up short against Lucena and Dalhausser, 19-21, 21-16, 16-14. Lucena and Dalhausser then played consecutive three-set matches in the quarters and semis against Italy’s Alex Ranghieri and Adrian Carambula and Germany’s Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen. 

In the gold-medal match, the Americans met familiar foes Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands. Only a week earlier, Lucena and Dalhausser played the young Dutch duo in the World Tour Finals semis, a match that went to three and that the USA players described as one of the most fun matches of their entire careers. In Mexico, however, Dalhausser and Lucena retained control of the momentum throughout, winning 21-12, 21-18. 

The women’s champions, Ludwig and Walkenhorst, never even dropped a set on their way to winning gold, including a defeat of Americans Lane Carico and Summer Ross in pool play 25-23, 21-16. In the final, the Germans faced Brazil’s Eduarda Santos Lisboa and Elize Maia Secomandi, winning 21-18, 21-16.

Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth and Germany’s Bennet Poniewaz and David Poniewaz took bronze. 

With a ninth, Carico and Ross were the American women’s team to finish the highest.

Western New York 2015 Boys Top 10 Poll - 10/13/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS
1. Canisius (12) 120
2. Eden 108
3. Orchard Park 95
4. West Seneca West 74
5. Lancaster 68
6. Hamburg 57
7. Frontier 46
8. Clarence 32
9. Grand Island 30
10. Lockport 15


Western New York 2015 Girls Top 10 Poll - 10/13/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Clarence (8) 80
2. Williamsville East (1) 73
3. Lancaster 63
4. Orchard Park 57
5. Hamburg 46
6. Kenmore West 29
7. Niagara Wheatfield 25
8. Sweet Home 20
T-9. Williamsville South 19
T-9. Grand Island 19
Also receiving votes: Williamsville North.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (5) 50
2. Eden 45
3. Portville 38
4. Nardin 24
5. North Collins 22
6. City Honors 19
7. Southwestern 16
8. Panama 13
9. Albion 11
T-10. Sacred Heart 8
T-10. Randolph 8
Also receiving votes: Sherman, Chautauqua Lake, Akron, Immaculata and Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville.

Lions spike St. Francis in host tourney
HS ROUNDUP: White, Schneider earn All-Tournament Team honors for coach Liz Smorol's team

Lockport Sun-Journal
Monday, October 12, 2015

The Lockport Lions boys volleyball team captured the championship of their host tournament on Saturday.

Head coach Liz Smorol’s Lions defeated St. Francis in the exciting title game by the scores of 28-30, 25-23, 15-10

Lockport junior Treston White and sophomore Zach Schneider were named to the All-Tournament Team. Rounding out the all-tourney team are Jake Kaempf and Tom Hayes of St. Francis; Williamsville South’s Joe Zanelotti and Alex Hokaj of St. Mary’s of Lancaster.

Lockport earned a berth to the finals with a 25-22, 25-20 victory over Williamsville South.

St. Francis earned its trip to the finals with a 25-18, 25-21 win over St. Mary’s.

High School Extra (Oct. 11): Canisius volleyball breaks through
Buffalo News
Sunday, October 11, 2015

Canisius had been knocking on the door for three years at the Penfield Invitational in boys volleyball. On Saturday, the Crusaders finally walked through it and won the title.

“It was really satisfying,” coach Tom Weislo said. “The fourth time is a charm.”

Canisius downed Penfield of Section V, two sets to one, in the championship round. Of even more interest locally was that the Crusaders played Eden in the semifinals. The result was the same as when the area’s top two teams met on Wednesday, as Canisius won two close games.

“Every time we play them, it’s a battle,” Weislo said of Eden.

Canisius defeated Burnt Hills of Section II in quarterfinals after losing only one set in pool play (Fairport). Weislo said there’s no time for a letdown now.

“We have St. Joe’s on Wednesday,” the coach said.

WKBW Super 7
#6 - Joe Zanelotti, Williamsville South Volleyball
By Nick Filipowski, WKBW
Friday, October 9, 2015


Crushed 28 kills and 12 aces in a win over Starpoint.

“Joe is our “go to” player and is the most intelligent player on the court that I have had in my 32 years of coaching. He has had one of the most impressive runs of late that I have seen for a volleyball athlete! Joe has been a setter for us, now hits outside and is a serve receive specialist.” – Will South Head Coach Thom Knab

Eden rebounds with a victory
Buffalo News
Friday, October 9, 2015

In boys volleyball, Mitch Mason had 18 digs for Eden in a three-set win over Amherst. The Raiders were coming off a loss on Wednesday to Canisius, a match that saw the two top teams in Western New York square off.

Orchard Park’s Jamiee Glendenning had a big day in a girls volleyball win over Williamsville North. She had nine kills, 15 digs and six blocks in a straight-set match.

The closest match of the day might have been da Vinci’s five-set win over Buffalo Arts. Each team scored at least 20 points in all five sets. The fifth game went da Vinci’s way, 25-22. Amy Win had 12 digs and Cailey O’Hanrahan had seven aces for da Vinci, which improved to 9-2.

High School Extra (Oct. 9): Canisius volleyball keeps its focus
Buffalo News
Friday, October 9, 2015

Canisius keeps its focus

The Canisius boys volleyball team had one of its biggest wins of the season on Wednesday night when it beat Eden in a matchup of the top two teams in Western New York.

The Crusaders went right back to work on Thursday, and they talked about the need to stay on top of their game. Then they made sure that there was no chance of a letdown. Canisius defeated Cardinal O’Hara in three sets to stay unbeaten for the season.

Elsewhere, St. Mary’s of Lancaster needed five sets to put St. Joe’s away. The first four sets needed more than the standard 25 points to determine a winner. Finally in Set Five, St. Mary’s took a 25-19 decision. Eric Brown led the Lancers with 46 points, while Joe DiGesare had 14 kills.

Flames keep winning

Williamsville East’s outside hitters took turns pounding out aces in Thursday’s three-set win over Iroquois. Lexi Novak had 14 kills and five aces, while Carly Shifflet had 13 kills.

“Carly had 13 kills. She’s my senior outside,” Flames coach Scott Wright said. “Lexi is my junior outside. Having 27 kills out of 75 is pretty good.”

The win meant Williamsville East’s record in league play remained perfect.

“The only match we dropped so far was in the semifinals at the St. Mary’s tournament,” Wright said. “We’ve only got that one blemish.”

Binder has solid tourney for Hilbert
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Hamburg Sun
Friday, October 9, 2015

The Hilbert women's volleyball team closed out the Blue Devil Invite Saturday (Oct. 3) with double losses but Amanda Binder was selected to the all-tournament team at the conclusion of the weekend event.

Fredonia took three quick sets (25-14, 25-8, 25-11) in the 10 a.m. match as the Hawks struggled at the net, finishing with nine kills and 24 hitting errors. 

Fredonia, meanwhile, closed with 30 kills. 

Binder produced four kills and 15 digs, while Hawks teammate Chelsea Adamski added 10 digs in the morning game.

Ithaca then downed Hilbert, 25-10, 25-13 and 25-15. 

The Hawks had a more productive afternoon game, posting 17 kills. The Bombers knocked down 32 kills to improve to 18-1 on the year. 

Binder almost reached double-figures in kills, closing the match with nine. She chipped in nine digs. Ashley Viengmay registered 10 digs in a losing effort while Morgan Ott was credited with 14 assists.

Eagles reach double digits
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Hamburg Sun
Friday, October 9, 2015

Jasmine Filkov recorded 11 kills while Angela Filkov chipped in 25 assists to help pace the North Collins girls volleyball team to a dominating three-game sweep of Pine Valley on Oct. 1 at home. 

The win pushed the Eagles to 10-1 as of press time. 

Courtney Wilson added eight kills and a dig for the winners. North Collins also got two kills and two digs apiece from Morgan Mathis and Deanne Wilson. Isabelle Wroblewski contributed two kills for the hosts, too, in addition to her five aces.

On Saturday (Oct. 3), North Collins won its own tournament, the Eagle Invitational, beating Gowanda, Sherman, Panama and Cattaraugus-Little Valley en route to capturing the title. It was NC’s first tournament win in six years. 

UB Volleyball Press Conference - 10/8/15
Thursday, October 8, 2015

Press Conference 

High School Extra (Oct. 8): Canisius wins showdown with Eden
Sacred Heart wins in five
Buffalo News
Thursday, October 8, 2015


Left: Canisius’ Griffin Schmit hits a ball as Eden’s Jesse Brockman defends at Canisius Wednesday. John Hickey/Buffalo News James P. McCoy/Buffalo News


Canisius wins showdown

Undefeated Canisius (20-0) left little doubt as to who is the No. 1 boys volleyball team in Western New York this season. The Crusaders, who have been atop the WNY Coaches Poll all season, won their annual match against public school power Eden, defeating the No. 2 ranked Raiders in three straight sets.

In what may go down as the match of the year in Western New York, Canisius did not have an easy time of it. The Crusaders were fully tested in the middle game before pulling out a 31-29 victory.

Griffin Schmit led Canisius with 15 kills. Devin Joslyn had 11 kills. It was the first loss in a dual match for Eden, although the Raiders lost to Canisius in the finals of the Clarence Tournament and lost in the semifinals of their own tournament.

Sacred Heart wins in five

Sacred Heart came back to win the fourth and fifth sets to defeat Immaculata in a girls volleyball match between Monsignor Martin Association rivals. The game does not count in the league standings, however.

Mia Wild, a junior who is one of the Sharks’ captains, was a defensive standout with 21 digs and three service aces.

Sacred Heart’s only league loss was to Nardin. Next up is league power St. Mary’s in Lancaster next Tuesday.

“We’re definitely looking forward to that one. We played them in a nonleague match and they beat us in three,” said Sacred Heart coach Allison Boehm. “We hope to give St. Mary’s a little run for their money.”

Cleveland Hill girls volleyball posts three-match win streak
Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cleveland Hill’s Courtney Hannon, background, and Paige Au both make an attempt at digging up a John F. Kennedy attack during the Lady Eagles’ 25-14, 25-19, 25-19 victory Monday. Photo by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Cleveland Hill’s girls volleyball team improved to 7-3 on the season Monday after knocking off crosstown rival John F. Kennedy by 25-14, 25-19, 25-19 scores.

The win pushed the Lady Eagles’ current winning streak to three matches. Middle hitter Alicia Huff had her best game to date offensively with 11 kills. Middle hitter Megan McIntosh also played well offensively, supplying five kills.

Setter Kathryn Skorka also played her best game of the season, according to coach Sheri Gund, with 12 assists

“This was an all around great team effort,” Gund said. “Every single athlete contributed to the win in some aspect.”

Monday’s victory over the Lady Eagles’ crosstown rival came after a five-day layoff following back-to-back victories over Tonawanda on September 28 and Holland on September 29.

In Cleveland Hill’s 25-16, 25-21, 25-19 win over Holland, outside hitter Anna Cervino had three kills and served well enough to record six aces. Huff chipped in with eight kills and an ace.

Huff also had five kills and six aces for Cleveland Hill in its 25-17, 25-10, 25-6 win over Tonawanda. Middle hitter Susie Horton “is coming along well,” according to Gund, and contributed three kills and three service aces to the team’s victory.

The Lady Eagles’ wins came off the heels of consecutive losses to Alden on September 18 and Eden on September 22. Outside hitter Kristina DiBlasio had six kills to guide Cleveland Hill against Alden.

“The girls are really starting to put it all together,” Gund said. “Our three senior captains, Kristina DiBlasio, Alicia Huff and Megan McIntosh, are leading the team to success. Megan McIntosh and setter Kathryn Skorka are also really working hard to contribute to our success this season.”

Cleveland Hill returned to action Wednesday with its second crosstown rivalry match in three days, but information about its clash with Maryvale was not available at press time.

The Lady Eagles close out their week of home matches by hosting Alden this evening and then resume play Tuesday at Eden.

Cheektowaga Central girls volleyball seeking success as season winds down
Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cheektowaga’s girls volleyball team, sitting north of the .500 mark in league play, is hoping to close out the regular season in a positive fashion after dropping some tough five-set matches to the likes of Springville and Pioneer.

The Lady Warriors, who were also tripped up by crosstown rival Maryvale, have gotten strong efforts this season from senior middle hitter Kenetria Redfern, junior middle hitter Jena Ponosny, junior setter Maria Verrastro, senior libero Sarah Braciak, senior right-side hitter Summer Walters and senior Lauren Onisk.

Redfern, who came back to the team after being out of the program for two years, is pacing the team with 84 kills. She also has 18 aces. Co-coach Denee Hickson called Redfern’s return “a true gift,” saying that “she takes charge on the court, both at the net and from behind the service line.”

“I only wish she could’ve played for the past two years to gain more experience,” Hickson said.

Ponosny, meanwhile, gained a great deal of experience while playing for the Niagara Frontier Volleyball Club for four years. To date, Ponosny has 56 kills and 32 aces.

“Jena knows the game very well, including where to place the ball and how to react in situations that occur quickly in a game,” Hickson said. “Most of her kills not only come from power, but come from being very smart on the court. She catches the other team off guard in crucial times and will attack the ball anywhere she is.”

Verrastro, who also gained a good deal of experience placing for NFVB, “does a great job of feeding our hitters and knowing who to set at certain times,” Hickson said. “She has a very good serve and has a great way of knowing where to serve the other team.”

Braciak and Walters have been helping the Lady Warriors on the defensive side of the ball. Hickson noted that “both are very good passers who hustle and cover the court well.” Onisk, meanwhile, “has a tremendous and fast serve, and she has more power than she can control, which helps her take charge behind the line.”

Cheektowaga returned to action Tuesday by hosting Amherst, but information about that match was not available at press time.

The Lady Warriors close out their week by traveling to Depew this evening before taking part in West Seneca West’s BNCC Invitational Saturday at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center.

Boys wins two of four; girls seek first victory
West Seneca Bee
Thursday, October 8, 2015

East volleyball

West Seneca East’s boys volleyball team picked up two of its three victories to date during a recent stretch of four matches in nine days, including a 3-0 sweep at Sweet Home on Sept. 30.

Jason Najm, Shaun Payne and Alex Yunke combined efforts for 28 kills to supply a majority of the offense for the team. Setter Bob Eisenmenger supplied his steady all-around game to help set the trio up for their success, while libero Justin Carr and middle blockers Nick Eichelberger and Brenden Bobeck turned in strong performances defensively.

The win was just what East needed after coming up just short in a 3-2 loss to Williamsville South on Sept. 25. East took control of the match early on, winning the first two games, before South stole a close win in game three to turn the tide.

Carr finished the match with 34 digs for East, which entered the match hoping to bounce back from a 3-2 loss at Lake Shore on Sept. 22.

Once again East jumped out to an early 2-0 lead behind Najm’s strong performance from the right side. Lake Shore was undeterred, however, and battled back to send the match to a decisive fifth game.

“That was definitely a tough one, especially after taking a 2-0 lead to start the match for the second straight outing,” coach Chad Loughran said. “We’ve been getting out to good starts, but we have to figure out how to close out the tight matches we’ve ultimately been finding ourselves in.”

East was able to hold off a hard-charging Iroquois squad on Sept. 21 to earn a 3-2 win after giving up the early 2-0 lead.

“Iroquois was an all-around team victory,” Loughran said. “The guys had to all dig deep and pull out that fifth game to win the match.”

East (3-4 overall) returned to action Monday by hosting Lake Shore and then traveled to Williamsville East Wednesday, but information about those matches was not available at press time.

The Trojans close out their week by hosting Starpoint Friday before taking a few days off prior to facing Iroquois on Wednesday, Oct. 14.

“Overall, I am very pleased with how the guys are performing this season,” Loughran said. “We are taking teams to five games this year who last year would take us in three, and most of the time we’re jumping out to a 2-0 lead. The guys work hard every day, and I believe that once playoffs are here they will be as confident in themselves as I am in them. We just have to start out strong like we have been, but finish even stronger.”

East’s girls team, meanwhile, is still seeking its first win of the season after dropping 3-0 matches to Lake Shore, Williamsville South and Sweet Home.

During the match with Lake Shore on Sept. 25, Nicole Kumro continued to demonstrate her blocking ability up front from her right-side hitter’s role, while Emily McElligott showcased why coach Michelle Jones has called her “a great asset to the team this year” from her middle hitter’s role.

In the Lady Trojans’ close 3-0 loss to South on Sept. 28, middle hitter Camryn Bianchi and fellow hitter Gabriell Kandefer, who floats between the outside and middle, showed their worth in their respective roles. Jones specifically pointed out Kandefer’s progression throughout the 2015 campaign, saying she “has improved so much this season.”

Outside hitter Maria Quagliana returned to East’s lineup for the Lady Trojans’ 3-0 loss to Sweet Home Friday, while setter Rachel Funk “had another great game” against the Lady Panthers, Jones said.

Libero Julia Reed “had an outstanding game in the back row, including several back-row attacks,” Jones said.

The Lady Trojans (0-6 overall) returned to action Tuesday against Williamsville East, but information about that contest was not available at press time.

East will close out its week by traveling to Starpoint today before participating in the BNCC Tournament Saturday.

“We knew this was going to be a tough season, but with two of our taller girls starting this year as sophomores and our libero being a junior, the future looks promising,” Jones said. “If we can stay healthy and continue to improve, we’re hoping to capture our first win before the season’s out.”

(Reporter Jason Nadolinski contributed to this article.)

Billies’ volleyball takes third at own tourney
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Evan Manna of Williamsville South sets a ball for a teammate during the Billies’ 25-19, 25-16, 25-16 non-league road win over Amherst Wednesday, Sept. 30. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos atwww.BeeNews.com


Williamsville South’s boys volleyball team downed St. Francis, 25-18, 28-30, 15-13, in the third-place match of the 24th annual Williamsville South Tournament Saturday.

The Billies went 2-3 in pool play, beating Cheektowaga, 25-13, and Lockport, 25-21, and losing against St. Mary’s of Lancaster, 18-25, St. Francis, 20-25, and Cicero North Syracuse, 15-25, beat Lockport, 30-28, in the quarterfinals, and lost to Cicero-North Syracuse, 15-25, 16-25, in the semifinals.

“Cicero is a well-rounded team and play a good court game and transition game,” South coach Thom Knab said. “It was hard to find a weakness in their game. I don’t think they dropped a game in the tournament.”

Senior outside hitter Joe Zanelotti (58 kills, 10 aces) and senior middle hitter Shawn Barbalato (31 kills, 13 blocks) were both named to the All-Tournament Team.

Middle hitter Sean Brown added 11 blocks. Knab also noted the play of setter Evan Manna.

The Billies headed in the tournament after beating Sweet Home, in four games at home Sept. 29 and recording a non-league win at Amherst, 25-19, 25-16, 26-16, Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Zanelotti posted 21 kills, Barbalato had 10 kills and right side hitter Mitchell Binda added five kills against Sweet Home.

Zanelotti posted 16 kills and nine blocks and Barbalato had nine kills and eight blocks against Amherst.

“We had more firepower than they had and took advantage of that,” Knab said. “The guys blocked and passed well and got a good attack going.”

South (8-2, 6-0) traveled to Starpoint Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

They host Lake Shore Wednesday and St. Joe’s Friday, and then compete in the Lockport Tournament Saturday.

Women's Volleyball Beats Crosstown Rival D'Youville (3-1)
Lady Mavericks stay undefeated in conference play with win over Spartans

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Junior Lydia Penberthy was one of two Lady Mavericks with a team-high (9) kills


BUFFALO, NY – The Lady Mavericks Volleyball team traveled across town on Tuesday evening to take on conference rival D'Youville College. Medaille was able to get off to a fast start en route to a (3-1; 25-15, 25-18, 21-25, 25-9) victory over the Spartans.

The Lady Mavs have played particularly strong over the past two weeks, and that play continued this evening. Medaille dominated play early, jumping out to a (10) point lead while building a (10-6) cushion in the first set. The ladies were able to continue that play throughout the first set, taking set one (25-15).

Sets two and three were much closer in score; with D'Youville taking advantage of an uncharacteristically slow offensive set for Medaille in set number three. The Lady Mavs finished the third frame with a (-.073) hitting percentage, dropping their only set of the night.

However, Medaille bounced back in a major way to close out the match. In what can only be called a dominant performance, the Lady Mavs hit for (.448) percent and held D'Youville to under (10) points to secure their third conference victory of the season.

The win improves Medaille to (12-4) overall while keeping them undefeated in AMCC play with a (3-0) record.

Junior Lydia Penberthy (Amherst, NY, Sweet Home) and Jennifer Stebbins (Gowanda, NY, Gowanda) lead the offense for Medaille, both finishing the contest with a team-high (9) kills. Fellow junior Morgan Freeman (Webster, NY, Webster Thomas) chipped in with a season-high (4) service aces, while senior Jenna Cleversley (West Seneca, NY, West Seneca West) paced the Lady Mavs defensively with (19) digs.

Stebbins also added (11) digs in the victory as Medaille will not be in action again until Tuesday, October 13 when they travel to Buffalo State College for a non-conference match-up. The match is scheduled for a 7:00pm start.

Amherst volleyball improves to 5-2 in ECIC III, drops non-league matches
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Amherst’s Mike Hildalgo dives out of bounds for a loose ball during the Tigers’ 19-25, 16-25, 16-25 non-league home loss against Williamsville South Wednesday, Sept. 30. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com

Amherst’s boys volleyball team improved to 5-2 in ECIC III after beating Depew, 25-22, 25-19, 25-20, at home Monday, Sept. 28.

“We took control in game one and never looked back,” Amherst coach Paul Wlosinski said. “It’s important to get divisional wins as the end of the season approaches.”

Pacing the Tigers’ offense were Nick Patterson (16 kills, 14 digs), Tom Greco (6 kills, 12 digs), Eric Niblock (7 kills, 11 digs), Andrew Harvey (8 kills), Pat Stein (2 kills, 3 aces) and Mike Hildalgo (41 assists).

The Tigers closed out the week with non-league home losses against Williamsville South, 19-25, 16-25, 16-25, Wednesday, Sept. 30 and Williamsville East, 19-25, 22-25, 26-28, Thursday.

“Each year, I always want to get the team ready for potential playoff opponents,” Wlosinski said. “We got to experience an opponent that put up a block, so we had to cover every hit. This helped us play the game we know we can play and run the offense we want to run. Even though we couldn’t pull out a win in either match, we still fought well and didn’t shy away from attacking the ball at the net. I told the team that I was pleased with our play and it just stirs up the fire inside for the next opportunity. It’s a nice reminder that wins are not given to you and you have to earn them.”

Amherst (8-4 overall) traveled to Williamsville North Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

The Tigers host Maryvale Wednesday and Eden Friday.

Amherst girls volleyball drops ECIC III matches
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Amherst’s girls volleyball team dropped ECIC III road matches against Depew, 16-25, 22-25, 17-25, Monday, Sept. 28 and East Aurora, 14-25, 13-25, 14-25, Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Lady Tigers coach Rachel Schepart said Depew had a great middle hitter who continuously blocked her team’s hits.

Senior outside hitter Gabby Lasher (4 digs, 6 kills) and sophomore setter Mia Ciccarella (ace, 3 digs, block, 10 assists) led the team.

Other notable stats came from junior middle hitter Mykela Moore (4 blocks, 2 kills), sophomore outside hitter Hannah Bardeen (6 digs, block), sophomore middle hitter Caroline Seaner (block, 3 kills), sophomore right side hitter Elizabeth Hall (2 digs, block, assist) and freshman libero Erica Norris (ace, 8 digs).

After the match, Schepart said the team worked on moving their feet to the ball and reading where the blockers are positioned.

Schepart said the team was a missing a starter against East Aurora so some positions switched up.

“We stayed close in the beginning of each match but were unable to return their serves,” she said. “It was hard for our team to recover from such large deficits, which led to the losses in each match.”

Lasher (2 aces, 9 digs, 3 kills), Bardeen (8 digs), Seaner (3 digs, 2 blocks, 3 kills), Ciccarella (ace, 5 digs, 6 assists), Norris (8 digs), Hall (2 digs), senior right side hitter Mykayla Harber (2 digs, blocks, 2 hits) and junior defensive specialist Mary Clare Kuhn (4 digs) contributed for the Lady Tigers.

All week, Schepart said Seaner stepped up as a middle hitter and blocker and Lasher and Ciccarella played major roles leading the team.

Amherst (2-7, 1-6) traveled to Cheektowaga Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Springville Thursday, John F. Kennedy Friday and compete in the West Seneca Varsity Invitational Saturday at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center.

Schepart is looking for improvement from the team for their match against Cheektowaga.

“The main thing I am looking for is improvement from the team, which will be shown in the stats and hopefully the end result,” Schepart said.

North girls volleyball beats Jamestown in five
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Williamsville North’s girls volleyball went 1-2 last week, losing at Hamburg, 14-25, 14-25, 17-25, Sept. 28 and Lancaster, 20-25, 19-25, 20-25, at home Wednesday, Sept. 30, and beating Jamestown, 26-28, 22-25, 25-23, 25-10, 25-16 at home Friday.

Elise Hopkins (8 kills), Noelle Gulick (5 kills) and Abby Vincent (23 assists) led North against Hamburg.

Lauren Curtis (10 kills) and Hopkins (8 kills) led the Lady Spartans against Lancaster in a match where coach Keith Hopkins said his team played well but made too many mental mistakes.

North finally put it together against Jamestown.

“We played with passion and stopped making the same mistakes that have been plaguing us,” coach Hopkins said. “In games three through five, we kept the ball in play and did not force things. By doing that, we kept the ball in play.”

Elise Hopkins led North with 16 kills and eight service aces. Curtis (12 kills), Allie Macon (5 kills) and Gulick (4 kills) also contributed to the offense. Vincent handed out 36 assists.

North (5-10, 2-6) traveled to Frontier Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They host Orchard Park Friday. 

Sacred Heart

The Sharks are 4-1 in league play and 7-3 overall.

Sacred Heart has played in three tournaments and fared well in all of them, losing to Orchard Park in the semifinals of the Sweet Home Tournament, falling to Clarence in the finals of the Clarence Tournament, and losing to Kenmore West in the quarterfinals of the Frontier Tournament.

Middle hitter Micaela Ryan was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Sweet Home Tournament. Mia Wild and Clare Falkowski were chosen for the All-Tournament Team at the Clarence Tournament.

Sacred Heart’s offense is anchored by right side hitter Kathleen Ryan (58 kills), Micaela Ryan (110 kills), middle hitter Lauren Aichinger (68 kills) and right side hitter Colleen Conway (54 kills).

Emma Madison leads the team in serving aces with 43. Mia Wild leads in digs per match with 15.5.

Sacred Heart hosted Cardinal O’Hara Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

Sacred Heart travels to St. Mary’s of Lancaster Tuesday, Oct. 13 and hosts Nardin in its “Pink the Court Night” Friday, Oct. 16.

The Sharks’ senior night is against O’Hara Monday, Oct. 19. Kathleen Ryan, outside hitter Emma Madison, defensive specialist Martha Saltarelli and setter Sam Zilliox will be honored.

East girls volleyball wins Frontier Tournament
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter, Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Williamsville East’s girls volleyball team won the Frontier Tournament Saturday. Members of the team pictured from left are: bottom row - Rachel Steffan, Sam Mendelsohn, Carly Shifflet, Allison Jozwiak, Lexi Novak; top row - Julianna Benz, Alyssa Pijanowski, Makayla Greenfield, Leah Orsini, Megan Wiese, Ann Marie Jones and coach Scott Wright.


Williamsville East usually places high at regular-season tournaments, but typically never wins them. Not this year.

The Lady Flames beat Kenmore West, 25-12, 25-15, in the finals of the Frontier Tournament Saturday. East did not drop a set throughout the entire tournament.

It was East’s first regular-season tournament victory since the Cheektowaga Tournament in 2011.

East beat Sacred Heart, 25-14, 25-13; Nardin, 25-16, 25-12; and Kenmore West, 25-13, 25-23, in pool play, downed City Honors, 25-20, 25-11, in the quarterfinals and Lancaster, 25-23, 25-16 in the semifinals.

“I was proud that we got through the whole day without dropping a set,” East coach Scott Wright said. “We played steady and consistent.”

East led Kenmore West, 8-3, in the first set behind two kills each from Carly Shifflet and Rachel Steffan. With the team ahead, 12-7, Makayla Greenfield went on a five-point scoring run, extending the lead to 17-7. A serving run by Shifflet closed out the first set.

The Lady Flames led, 13-12 and 17-14, but an eight-point serving run from Shifflet closed out the match and the tournament.

“Kenmore West is a smaller and scrappier team,” Wright said. “The girls did a good job getting blocks up and playing defense and transitioning to offense.”

The semifinal win over Lancaster was not easy. The Lady Legends took a 7-4 lead in the first set before East rallied and took a 10-8 advantage. The score went back and forth until the game was tied at 20-20.

Shifflet had two kills and Lexi Novak added another kill to give the Lady Flames a 24-22 lead before another kill by Shifflet gave East the win.

The Lady Flames built a 12-6 lead in the second set and Lancaster was never able to get closer than three points. East won 10 of the next 14 points.

East hit .444 as a team and was led by Shifflet with 14 kills and 11 digs and Novak with seven kills and eight digs. Greenfield handed out 29 assists.

Throughout the day, Shifflet and Novak led the East offense with 60 and 51 kills, respectively.

Greenfield accumulated 135 assists as East hitters hit .301.

East also finished with 45 total blocks, and was led by Leah Orsini with 11, Allison Jozwiak with 10, Novak and Greenfield each with seven, and Steffan with six.

The Lady Flames recorded 279 digs and was led by Shifflet (69), junior Ann Marie Jones (48), Greenfield (31) and Julianna Benz (28).

Wright also noted the steady play of Steffan at right side hitter and Jones for filling in well at libero in place of Sam Mendelsohn, who is out with an ankle injury.

The victory at the Frontier Tournament capped off a good week for the Lady Flames, which also won ECIC II road matches over Starpoint, 25-8, 25-8, 25-9 Monday, Sept. 28 and Lake Shore, 25-14, 25-11, 25-17, Wednesday, Sept. 30. East is 7-0 in league matches and 8-0 overall.

East hit .596 against Starpoint and recorded 13 aces. Contributing to the win were Shifflet (11 kills, 4 digs, block, ace), Novak (9 kills, 9 digs 4 aces), Greenfield (26 assists, 10 digs, 3 kills, 2 aces), Jones (13 digs, 3 aces, 2 assists), Jozwiak (4 kills, block, 6 digs, ace), Benz (8 assists, dig, ace), Steffen (2 kills, 2 blocks, 5 digs), Orsini (3 kills, 3 blocks), Jessica Weaver (kill, 2 digs), Meagan Wiese (2 kills, dig, ace) and Alyssa Pijanowski (kill, 2 digs).

East started slow against Lake Shore, falling behind 9-8 but eventually took a 17-14 lead. Shifflet went on an eight-point serving run and Greenfield had a kill on a second ball attack to win the set.

East built a 10-5 lead in the second set, extended its lead to 17-11 and Novak closed out the set with a serving run.

The Lady Flames jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the third set.

Shifflet (19 kills, 18 digs, 4 aces) and Novak (14 kills, 18 digs, 3 aces) led the offense.

Greenfield recorded her third consecutive double-double with 35 assists and 10 digs.

East traveled to West Seneca East Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Iroquois Thursday. 

email: pnagy@beenews.com

Sweet Home loses in Frontier Tourney semifinals
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sweet Home’s bid to win its second girls volleyball tournament of the season fell short, losing to Kenmore West, 20-25, 25-17, 16-18, in the semifinals of the Frontier Tournament Saturday.

Sweet Home went undefeated in pool play, beating City Honors, Mount St. Mary’s, and Frontier, and received a bye in the quarterfinals.

“We were missing some of our starters due to conflicts but had an excellent day of athletes stepping up and playing great,” Sweet Home coach Breean Martin said.

The Lady Panthers (6-3, 5-3) won two of three home league matches, downing Iroquois, 19-15, 25-12, 25-12, 25-15, Sept. 28 and West Seneca East, 25-17, 25-15, 25-15, Friday. They lost to Williamsville South, 19-25, 21-25, 23-25, Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Rachel Reusch had 17 kills, 8 blocks, 10 digs and three aces and Claire Hiwiller posted 30 assists, six kills and eight digs against Iroquois.

Contributing for Sweet Home against West Seneca East were Reusch (20 kills, 7 blocks, 9 digs), Hiwiller (32 assists, 8 kills, 10 digs), Tirzah Peters (8 kills, 3 blocks) and Hannah Sigurdson (15 digs).

Reusch posted 16 kills, two blocks and 10 digs and Hiwiller had 25 assists, five kills and eight digs against South.

Sweet Home traveled to Starpoint Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. The Lady Panthers host Lake Shore Thursday.

Red Devils Boys volleyball splits in pair of matches
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The roller coaster ride continued last week for Clarence’s boys volleyball team, with the Red Devils turning in a sub-par performance against Orchard Park on Sept. 29 before bouncing back to beat Hamburg in a barn burner two days later.

Clarence turned in what coach Kevin Starr conceded was “an absolutely terrible performance” during its 14-25, 19-25, 15-25 loss to the Quakers. The Red Devils, who dropped a tight five-set match to Orchard Park during earlier regular-season play but topped the Quakers when they met in the Eden Tournament, made uncharacteristic errors — letting balls drop, passing poorly and not blocking well, according to Starr — that spelled their doom.

“We didn’t do anything well that night; nothing seemed to work,” Starr said. “They’re in first place in the league and they’ve gotten better as the season has gone on, but that doesn’t account for our total breakdown that night. We had adjusted our defense to better handle their hitters, and we adjusted again during the match, but that didn’t slow them down.”

Henry Payne had 14 kills and Ben Janzow had eight digs to lead the way for Clarence, which bounced back from a slow start two nights later to take down Hamburg by 17-25, 21-25, 25-9, 26-24, 25-20 scores.

Nick Ciraolo moved from the middle to the right side to account for a sick starter, and Ares Blessios came off the bench to fill in at Ciraolo’s normal spot. Ciraolo, who “gives us a bigger block on the right side than we usually have,” helped Clarence finish with a season high 13 blocks. Jake Ireland was also among those contributing to that effort, putting up a big block — one of his six on the day — to close out the match.

“We came out flat again and, while we were better in the second game, we knew that we had to fight back if we were to have any chance to win,” Starr said. “Then, once the third game started, it was as if a switch were turned on — and once we got going, it was as if we were a different team. The energy and excitement that our guys had in game five was the best it’s been all season.

“I’ve told the guys all along that intangibles like enthusiasm and spirit can be worth two or three points in a game,” Starr continued. “It was as if we were an entirely different squad than the one that played Orchard Park two nights earlier.”

Payne finished the match with 31 kills, while Janzow added 12. Dalton Squires chipped in with 50 assists for the match.

Clarence (4-4 ECIC I) returned to action Monday by traveling to West Seneca West, but information about that contest was not available at press time.

The Red Devils resume play this afternoon by hosting Williamsville North, and then have a week off to work on their preparation for Lancaster on Wednesday, October 14.

“Henry and Ben, along with Dalton, have improved their jump serves to the point where they’re now a real weapon for us,” Starr said. “This match could be the one that we’ll look back on at the end of the season as the turning point where the guys really came to believe that we can beat anyone if we work hard and don’t lose faith in each other.”

Bulldogs take second place at Sweet Home tourney
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Hamburg Sun
Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Hamburg boys volleyball team made it over a major hurdle at the Sweet Home tournament Saturday (Sept. 26), advancing to the finals before falling to Lancaster, 25-17, 25-18. 

On the road to the championship match, the Bulldogs defeated Sweet Home, St. Mary’s of Lancaster, Niagara-Wheatfield and Clarence. 

Senior Ryan Dils and junior Alex Andrzejewski made the all-tournament team. 

Before the successful tournament run, Hamburg was 2-4 on the season, beating West Seneca West and Williamsville North. The Bulldogs have been close in every defeat, as three of the four went five games — against Clarence, Frontier and Lancaster. 

Hamburg coach Brian Carroll said that the squad’s five-set win over Williamsville North to improve to 2-3 was the turning point for the season. The Bulldogs followed with a narrow, five-set loss to Lancaster the night before the Sweet Home tournament. 

Now, Hamburg has momentum, and Carroll said it’s improving daily. 

"It's a really good feeling when you leave the gym after a match or practice and you can literally see the improvement in all the players,” Carroll said. “This group of boys is working very hard and is catching ground on the more experienced teams in Western New York. If we keep progressing at the rate we are, we will definitely be in the conversation at the end of the season." 

At the Sweet Home tournament, Carroll noted that Austin O'Shei and Gage Schneider played their best matches of the season. The coach added that Jon Gordner, Dan Gunning, Will Wood, Alex Morey, Ben Miller and senior Thane McGarry are all starting to play well, too.

Senior middle Jack Lillin turned in a fine performance at Sweet Home, said Carroll, who added that freshmen Jacob Couzens and Marcus Wloch are starting to become integral parts of the offense.

First-year junior Jeremy Herrington is also learning quite a bit about the game and is getting better every time he takes the gym floor, noted the coach. 

"Things look really good from my standpoint,” Carroll said. “First, these kids were drill-ready. Then they became practice-ready. They are now becoming game-ready. After that, they just need to be more consistent over a longer period of time to be match-ready, and with their effort, I am hoping that is going to happen. That, however, is up to them.”

Western New York 2015 Boys Top 10 Poll - 10/6/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS
1. Canisius (12) 120
2. Eden 108
3. Orchard Park 94
4. Lancaster 82
5. West Seneca West 59
6. Frontier 57
7. Clarence 48
8. Hamburg 43
9. Grand Island 37
10. St. Mary's/Lancaster 6


Western New York 2015 Girls Top 10 Poll - 10/6/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Clarence (7) 70
2. Williamsville East (1) 64
3. Orchard Park 55
4. Lancaster 50
5. Hamburg 39
6. Niagara Wheatfield 30
7. Kenmore West 27
8. Williamsville South 25
9. Sweet Home 20
10. Grand Island 15
Also receiving votes: West Seneca West and Frontier.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (5) 50
2. Eden 45
3. Portville 38
4. Sacred Heart 24
5. North Collins 22
6. City Honors 19
7. Panama 16
8. Nardin 13
9. Albion 11
T-10. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 8
T-10. Chautauqua Lake 8
Also receiving votes: Southwestern, Randolph, Maryvale and Springville.

Quakers outlast Frontier
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 6, 2015

First place Orchard Park (8-1) disposed of Frontier in straight sets Monday night in their ECIC I volleyball match, but only after the Falcons extended the Quakers to a marathon second set. OP won, 26-24, 36-34 and 25-16.

“Longest game I’ve ever been involved in my whole career,” said Quakers coach Matt Lexner. “We had leads of 14-6 and 18-13 and Frontier came back both times.”

It was typical match when OP and Frontier meet. Lexner calls it the No. 1 boys rivalry in the area.

“It’s always a battle when the two teams get together.,” Lexner said.

Jason Manley led Orchard Park with 21 kills and four aces. Cameron Hassen had eight kills, while Chris Mikulec had 10 kills from the middle position and four blocks. Spencer Eagleton had 46 assists.

“We actually had 48 kills in the three games. For a three-set match, that’s a lot of kills.”

High School Extra (Oct. 4): Cicero-NS takes title
Buffalo News
Sunday, October 4, 2015

The boys’ volleyball team from Cicero-North Syracuse had a worthwhile trip from Central New York, capturing the championship of the Williamsville South Invitational.

The team defeated St. Mary’s in two straight sets after beating Williamsville South in the semifinals. St. Mary’s had needed three sets to top St. Francis to advance.

Connor Cummings and Sean Taggart (St. Francis) along with Shawn Barbalato and Joe Zanelotti (Williamsville South) were named to the All-Tournament team.

Clarence keeps winning
Buffalo News
Saturday, October 3, 2015

In girls volleyball, Clarence continued on its roll. The Red Devils moved to 13-1, 8-0 in the division, with a three-set win over West Seneca West. Maddie Christopher had 10 assists for Clarence.

Kenmore West moved to 8-1 with a three-set win over Lewiston-Porter. Abby Borkowski had seven kills, three aces and seven digs, while Dana Mancuso finished with six digs, five aces and four kills.

WKBW Super 7
Despite injuries, Alyssa Zirnheld is dominating for St. Mary's volleyball
Tore her ACL and meniscus on left knee

By Nick Filipowski, WKBW
Friday, October 2, 2015


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - By the looks of it, St. Mary's of Lancaster Senior Alyssa Zirnheld is back to her old self.

"This is a sport I love to play," she said. "This is my senior year and going out with a bang, and hope it all goes well."

But the scars are still there. After helping the Lancers to the 2013 championship, Alyssa, then a sophomore, tore her ACL on the championship point.

"I heard something, I felt something pop and I knew it was really serious," she added.

After surgery and rehab, six months later she was back on the court preparing for what should have been her junior season.

"I felt it again and I went down."

This time, it was a torn meniscus.

"Of course it's only me, it would happen to again," Alyssa said. "Especially coming and working so hard to be able to play my junior year, it wasn't a good time at all."

After sitting out all of last year and after 15 months of rehab, not knowing if her leg would hold up, Alyssa returned to action for her final season.

"A two time injury to the same knee, you never know what you're going to get," Head Coach Donald Pieczynski said. "I knew Alyssa was going to put in the work but you didn't know what the outcome was going to be. I know what a gamer Alyssa is. I knew if there was any way that she could compete close to her level before her injury I knew we'd have a special player."

The senior has dominated, leading the team with 117 kills and the Lancers to a 10-0-1 record.

"Times were really tough. You can't give up in anything that you do," she said. "I hope people look at my story and learn that there is always going to a setback, but after there is a comeback and great things on the other side."

High School Extra (Oct. 2): Bartus’ big night carries West
Buffalo News
Friday, October 2, 2015

Penn State-commit Cam Bartus played a big role in West Seneca West earning a five-set win over host Williamsville North in ECIC boys volleyball.

The 6-foot-10 senior Bartus finished with 40 kills for West (7-2, 5-2), while teammate Nick Pozzuto finished with 14 digs.

Also in ECIC, Clarence dropped the first two sets but stormed back to defeat host Hamburg, 17-25, 21-25, 25-9, 26-24, 25-20.

Junior Henry Payne helped fuel the rally with 29 kills. He wasn’t the only Red Devil to step up as Ben Janzow added 17 kills, while Dalton Squires finished with 51 assists.

West Seneca Bee
Thursday, October 1, 2015


Photo by Jake French Purchase color
photos at www.BeeNews.com


West Seneca East’s Jessica Pratt keeps her eye on the ball while stretching as far as possible in a bid to keep the play alive during the Lady Trojans’ 3-2 loss at Iroquois on Sept. 22.

Maryvale’s girls volleyball team continues strong start to season
Squad earns rare victories over Amherst, Springville, Central

by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter, Lancaster Bee
Thursday, October 1, 2015

Maryvale’s girls volleyball team continued to show its opponents little to no mercy during a recent two-week span that saw the Lady Flyers defend a tournament title and post wins over squads that have historically gave them trouble during coach Tina Raczynski’s four years with the squad.

Maryvale’s recent stretch of conquests began September 16 with its 25-3, 25-18, 25-19 win over non-league crosstown rival JFK. Sophomore captain Julia Carter had five kills and two blocks to lead the team, while junior Emily Raczynski had 10 assists. Senior captain Michelle Richardson had 14 service points for the Lady Flyers, all of whom coach Raczynski said pitched in and played well.

The Lady Flyers then defended their title at Cleveland Hill’s annual tournament on September 19 by beating Olmstead in the semifinals and the hosts (25-22, 25-14) in the finals.

Maryvale returned to to league action September 22 by defeating Amherst by 25-12, 25-19, 25-17 marks. It was the first time that the Lady Flyers have defeated Amherst in coach Raczynski’s tenure with the squad.

Senior captain Shannon Mowry had four kills and five service aces to guide Maryvale’s efforts, while fellow senior captain Brianna Henry had four service aces, three kills and a block. Senior Jennifer Zindle had four digs.

“We played strong defensively,” coach Raczynski said. “These girls have heart and did not let a ball hit the ground. As a team they passed the ball amazingly well in this match.”

The Lady Flyers then took out two-time defending divisional champion Springville two days later (25-12, 25-19, 25-15) to remove another squad from coach Raczynski’s list of teams she’d yet to beat as Maryvale’s coach.

The battle of the undefeated divisional co-leaders looked like it wasn’t going to go Maryvale’s way after Carter suffered an injury on the third play of the first game that kept her on the bench for the rest of the match, but coach Raczynski noted that Carter’s teammates “pulled it together and fought hard for Julia,” realizing in the process that “it wasn’t a fluke — we are a good team and a tough team.”

“We were the ones who had everything to lose in this match and we proved we were tough and that we could face adversity on the way to winning games,” coach Raczynski said. “We showed that we can set the pace of the game, that we will fight for every point and that we have confidence in what we are doing.

“Julia going down with her injury, in that moment, that was the turning point for our season,” coach Raczynski continued. “It has been at least three years since we’d won a game against Springville, much less taken the whole match, but we learned … we’re more than a team — we’re a family.”

Junior Alexa Hoiensahl stepped in and played in Carter’s spot for the remainder of the match and finished with nine blocks, three kills and two aces. More importantly, coach Raczynski believes that Hoiensahl’s confidence on the court helped lead the team to victory.

That confidence carried over to Monday’s clash with crosstown rival Cheektowaga. The Lady Warriors also found themselves no longer on coach Raczynski’s list of teams impossible to beat at the end of the night as the Lady Flyers posted a 26-24, 25-14, 25-15 victory over Central that coach Raczynski called “a huge win for our program.”

Henry had six kills and four aces for the victors, while Carter had seven kills and two aces. Richardson had 11 assists, Emily Raczynski had 12 assists and eight service points, and junior Jaelah George had 10 service points.

“Whenever we get Jaelah around to service a calmness comes over our court,” coach Raczynski said. “We have such confidence in Jaelah and her serve that the rest of the team just follows her lead and plays strong behind her, and we needed that because it’s always an intense match when we play Cheektowaga.

“The first game was a battle between the two schools, but once we settled down and the girls started to realize that they could do this, they came back and played strong defense and offense,” coach Raczynski continued. “These girls were not going to let the ball hit the ground on any play; they passed the ball well, they set well and they hit the ball.”

Maryvale (7-0, 6-0 ECIC III) returned to action Wednesday at Pioneer, but information about that match was not available at press time. The Lady Flyers close out their week by hosting Depew on Friday before taking a few days off prior to traveling to East Aurora on October 6.

“We have a tough schedule the next two weeks, and now that we are the undefeated division leaders everyone is coming after us for the win — even though we’ve only need three games so far to beat everyone,” coach Raczynski said. “We have to play harder than we ever have, but we now know we can do that. We’ve earned the respect of the other teams in our division, so now we have more to prove than ever — but we’re ready for the challenge.”

South boys volleyball coach Knab earns 300th victory
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 30, 2015




Williamsville South boys volleyball coach Thom Knab isn’t big into how many wins he can earn as a coach; he is more concerned with how his team plays.

That is why it didn’t hit him until after the Billies downed Williamsville East, 25-9, 25-20, 25-23, Monday, Sept. 21 that the longtime South coach attained his 300th coaching victory.

The win improved the Billies to 4-0 in ECIC II and 4-1 overall.

“I was so focused on the team maintaining a perfect record in the division, and what could potentially affect seeding for playoffs,” Knab said. “Three hundred wins is nice to accomplish but it is about what we are doing right now.”

Knab has been South’s volleyball coach since 1992. He was inducted into the Western New York Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2013.

Knab attributed the team’s fast start against East to good passing, as well as the jump serving from senior Joe Zanelotti, who recorded 10 of the team’s season high 18 aces. Zanelotti also recorded 12 kills.

Senior Shawn Barbalato added four aces and 13 kills.

Libero Nico Zanelotti added two aces.

“They came out fired up be- cause of the in-district and inter-division rivalry and controlled the match for the most part,” Knab said.

The Billies closed out the week with a 20-25, 22-25, 25-19, 25-13, 25-10 road win over West Seneca East Friday.

“We played uninspired volleyball,” Knab said. “In the third game, we turned it around and started passing and hitting better and West Seneca East seemed to go the other direction and struggle with their passing.”

Joe Zanelotti led the offense with 21 kills. Barbalato added 15 kills and five blocks and sophomore left side hitter Dan Proch chipped in six kills.

The Billies (5-1, 5-0) hosted Sweet Home Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Amherst Wednesday and host the 24th annual Williamsville South Invitational at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Cheektowaga, St. Mary’s of Lancaster, St. Francis, Cicero-North Syracuse and Lockport are the other five teams.

Hamburg getting better
Buffalo News
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Although Hamburg stands sixth in the ECIC I boys volleyball standings, the Bulldogs were ranked eighth in the most recent Western New York Coaches Poll.

Coach Brian Carroll’s team strengthened its case for a higher ranking Tuesday by sweeping three games from No. 5 ranked West Seneca West.

“We didn’t start the season very well but every game has gone five sets except for Orchard Park, which went four. We’re beginning to play better,” Carroll said.

Last Saturday, Hamburg topped division rival No. 7 ranked Clarence in the semifinals of the Sweet Home Tournament before falling to Lancaster in the championship match. Next on the schedule for the Bulldogs? Clarence again on Thursday.

“Then we’ll know if we’re as good as we hope to be,” Carroll said.

Senior setter Ryan Dils had 35 assists in Tuesday’s victory. Hamburg scored 15 points on serves by Dils. Junior Dan Gunning had 15 digs.

Meanwhile, Lancaster swept last-place Williamsville North in three sets in their ECIC I match. “They’re not a bad team. All three sets were close until we pulled away at the end,” said Lancaster coach Jason Stang. Jay Baumann led the Legends with 15 kills while Alex Kostek had 34 assists.

Canisius, the No. 1 ranked large school team in Western New York, won its 16th of the season, sweeping three sets from Frontier. Devin Joslyn led the Crusaders with 12 kills and five aces.

Clarence volleyers top OP

Clarence (6-0 ECIC I) is ranked No. 1 among large schools in girls volleyball, but was tied for first with Orchard Park in ECIC I standings before sweeping the third-ranked Quakers in three sets at Orchard Park.

“All the games were pretty close. My girls hung in there and played very well,” said Clarence coach Michael Meyer.

Karley King (11 kills and two blocks) and Meghan Neelon (15 kills, 14 assists) were among the standouts for the Red Devils.

“Our setter, Maddie Christopher, set a diversified offense with 19 assists, which is a lot in a three-set match,” Meyer said. “Jaide Cummings, our libero, passed almost every serve and led the team with five aces. She is a ninth-grader.”

Clarence will put its unbeaten league record on the line against Frontier on Wednesday. “It won’t get any easier,” Meyer said. “There a lot of good teams in our league. Every night is a fight. The girls can play on all those teams.”

East girls volleyball remains unbeaten
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Sweet Home’s Claire Hiwiller stretches with all she has to bump a ball during the second game of the Lady Panthers’ 16-25, 17-25, 25-23, 11-25 road loss Thursday. Photos by Nick LoVerdePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Williamsville East’s girls volleyball team continued to excel against ECIC II competition, defeating Williamsville South, 25-16, 25-21, 25-22, Monday, Sept. 21 and Sweet Home, 25-16, 25-17, 23-25, 25-11, Thursday.

The wins moved East to 5-0 in ECIC II and 6-0 overall.

The victory over Sweet Home was a rematch of last year’s Section VI Class A final won by East.

The Lady Flames built a 4-1 lead in the first set before senior libero Sam Mendelsohn suffered an ankle injury and play was delayed 25 minutes while waiting for medical personnel.

Rachel Steffen’s five-point serving run extended East’s lead to 13-3 and Lexi Novak recorded five kills down the stretch to lead the Lady Flames to victory.


Williamsville East senior Carly Shifflet lets a jump serve fly during game one of the Lady Flames’ 25-16, 25-17, 23-25, 25-11 home win Thursday. East improved to 5-0 in ECIC II and 6-0 overall.


Sweet Home built a 7-3 lead in the second set. Junior Ann Marie Jones, filling in for Mendelsohn, went on a seven-point serving run, which included an ace and two kills from Leah Orsini, to give East an 11-7 lead.

Sweet Home closed the gap to 18-15 but a kill from Carly Shiflet, two aces from Jones, and a kill from Makayla Greenfield brought East to set point. A kill from Novak gave East the win.

Sweet Home and East were tied in the third set 14-14 before Sweet Home went on a five-point run to take a 19-14 advantage.

East tied the score at 21-21 but Sweet Home went on to win and hand the Lady Flames their first lost set of the year.

East rebounded in the fourth set, jumping out to a 13-4 lead behind strong serving from Ally Jozwiak and Steffan. A serving run from Novak extended the lead to 21-9 and East closed out the set on a kill from Shifflet.

Shifflet recorded 21 kills (.364 hitting percentage) and 19 digs and Novak added 18 kills (.455 hitting percentage), 17 digs and four aces.

Greenfield handed out 44 assists to go with 16 digs and three aces.

Other notable contributors included Jones (13 digs, 3 aces), Orsini (3 kills, 2 blocks) and Steffan (11 digs, 1 kill, assist, ace).

Sweet Home coach Breean Martin said East put a lot of pressure on her team’s serve receive and her team could not get a good touch off a first ball.

“Our offense was very limited and East got runs,” Martin said. “When we would get the ball back, we would not score enough to catch up. They got out to leads in the first two games and there was nothing we could do to stop it. I was happy we took a game from them. We know what we have to do to compete with them.”

Senior Rachel Reusch recorded 16 kills and senior Claire Hiwiller handed out 25 assists.

East built a 9-5 lead in the first set against South behind strong hitting from Novak, Shifflet and Steffan.

South closed the gap to 15-13 before a four-point serving run by Steffan extended the lead to 19-13. A kill by Shifflet ended the first set.

South scored the first four points of the second set.

Trailing 11-9, the Lady Flames won the longest point of the match that featured three digs from Shifflet and three digs from Mendelsohn that set up a Novak kill. East built a 20-16 lead and closed out the set with a kill from Steffan.

East fell behind 5-2 in the third set. Trailing 15-12, Steffan went on a serving run to put East ahead 17-15.

South battled back to tie the score at 19-19 before two kills by Novak gave East a 21-19 lead, only to see South tie the score at 21-21.

Two kills from Shifflet put East back on top and a kill by Jozwiak gave East the set and the match.

Novak led East with 15 kills, 12 digs, a block and an ace.

Other notable contributors for the Flames included Shifflet (13 kills, 9 digs), Greenfield (35 assists, 6 digs) and Mendelsohn (24 digs).

Melissa Postek led South with 21 kills.

South coach Tom Sproull said his team played well against East and said there are some areas where the team can improve.

“We were definitely competitive with them,” he said. “We learned that we have to finish plays and that you can’t play tentative. You can’t give team free balls and not expect them to make mistakes. We also struggled in serve receive, which led to us not getting as good as swings as we wanted.”

East traveled to Starpoint, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Lake Shore Wednesday.

Sweet Home

Sweet Home traveled to Niagara Wheatfield Friday and recorded a hard-earned 16-25, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21 victory.

“They were serving us off the court and when we went to kill the ball, they would dig it,” Martin said. “It took us two games to wake up. We had to finds ways to put pressure on them. I’m so glad we played them. It is the exact type of team that we needed to play so we can learn what to do when we play a team like East.”

Reusch posted 21 kills, five blocks and three aces. Hiwiller posted 36 assists.

Martin also noted the play of sophomore right side hitter Christie Ackendorf, senior libero Hannah Sigurdson (12 digs) and junior middle hitter Tirzah Peters.

Sweet Home (4-2, 3-2) hosted Iroquois Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They host Williamsville South Wednesday and West Seneca East Friday.

Williamsville South

Postek recorded 22 kills in South’s 25-22, 25-13, 25-17 road win over Iroquois Friday.

Sproull noted the play of setter Kelsey Stasiak, libero Anna Hoffman and middle hitter Brianna Neeley.

South also beat Lake Shore, 25-15, 25-15, 25-20 Sept. 15 and lost to Hamburg, 23-25, 16-25, 24-26 Sept. 17.

Postek had eight kills and Stasiak handed out 11 assists against Lake Shore. Postek had 15 kills and Stasiak had 12 assists against Hamburg.

South (5-2, 3-2) hosted West Seneca East Monday, but information about the meet was unavailable before press time. They travel to Sweet Home Wednesday and host Starpoint Friday.

(Patrick J. Nagy contributed to the article)


Amherst girls volleyball records first wins of season
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

After losing its first four games, Amherst’s girls volleyball team recorded its first victories of the season, defeating Tonawanda, 25-19, 16-25, 25-8, 25-22, Monday, Sept. 21 and Pioneer, 25-13, 18-25, 13-25, 25-23, 25-16 Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Sandwiched in between both wins was a 12-25, 19-25, 17-25 loss against Maryvale Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Coach Rachel Schepart said her team was all over the court against Tonawanda, getting a touch on every ball.

“After coming off a four-game losing streak, the girls came ready to play and deserved the hard fought win,” she said. “The girls have stopped missing their serves, which was a big factor in the previous losses, giving the opposing team free points. We worked on serving, as well as serve receive during practice, and it really showed in the game.”

Sophomore setter Mia Ciccarella recorded 12 assists, four digs, three aces and a kill and has done an excellent job keeping the team together and getting the ball to the hitters, Schepart said.

“The number of hits has increased since the first game, as well as, the number of kills.”

Schepart said junior Mykela Moore (3 kills, 3 blocks) has had some great kills and blocks at the net as a middle hitter and she is looking forward to her stats increasing in those categories as the season continues.

Also contributing to the win were: senior outside hitter Gabby Lasher (5 kills, 6 digs); sophomore right side hitter Elizabeth Hall (3 kills, 2 blocks, 3 aces), sophomore outside hitter Hannah Bardeen (2 kills, 3 digs) and freshman libero Erica Norris (5 digs).

“Erica has done a great job getting the ball exactly where the setter needs it,” Schepart said. “She is also extremely quick and a great asset to the team.”

Amherst’s victory over Pioneer was the team’s first match all season that went five games.

“The girls were exhausted by the start of the fifth game but pushed themselves to play their best, proving that all of the conditioning paid off,” Schepart said. “It was a nail-biting experience but the girls were able to hang on until the end and come out with the big win.”

Lasher led Amherst with 21 hits, five kills, three aces, two digs and a block.

“She has proven time and time again that she is the backbone of the team,” Schepart said. “She touches the ball almost every time it is on our side of the court and is a huge asset to the team.”

Also contributing to the win were Moore (4 blocks, dig, kill, 4 aces), Hall (7 hits, 3 kills, assist, dig), Bardeen (10 digs, 9 aces), Ciccarella (15 assists, 4 digs, 2 aces, kill) and Norris (8 digs).

Contributing for Amherst against Maryvale were Lasher (5 kills, 3 digs), Moore (4 blocks), Hall (dig), Bardeen (block, 2 digs), Ciccarella (6 assists, 3 digs) and Norris (6 digs).

“Maryvale has some great players on their team and we weren’t ready for that,” Schepart said. “It was a pretty good game and I am looking forward to playing them again at Amherst on October 13.”

Amherst (1-4 in ECIC III) traveled to Depew Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They host East Aurora Wednesday.

“The girls are starting to work together as a team and get into a good groove,” Schepart said. “After the first couple of games, I switched where the girls were starting on the court, which helped utilize the hitters and pair the blockers better. Our two captains, Gabby Lasher and Mia Ciccarella, have really stepped up to lead the team and are encouraging them to play their best. We are looking forward to playing the teams in our division for a second time and pushing for the win this time around. I am really proud of the girls’ motivation to never give up.”

Win over Cheektowaga highlights Amherst boys volleyball’s successful week
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Amherst’s boys volleyball team recorded ECIC III home wins over East Aurora, 25-14, 25-11, 25-7, Monday, Sept. 21 and 25-6, 25-14, 25-14 over Holland Friday, and also won on the road against Cheektowaga 25-19, 22-25, 25-17, 24-26 Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Tigers coach Paul Wlosinski said the Cheektowaga match was big for the team because they lost both regular-season meetings and their playoff meeting last year.

“We got off to a great start, which seemed to be a problem for us this season,” Wlosinski said.

After winning the first game, Wlosinski said the team continued to take control in the second game but lost due to seven missed serves.

The Tigers rebounded in the third game and committed 13 unforced errors in the fourth game.

The fifth game was even until about 10 points, and then Amherst exploded with a run of five points and never looked back.

“I saw how comfortable and confident we felt throughout the match,” Wlosinski said. “There are always moments when we need to relax and refresh, but many times this year, we seem to do that when I’m considering a timeout. It’s a great feeling as a coach, knowing that the team will find a way to work together and look past the previous play and focus on the next.”

Nick Patterson led the Tigers with 22 kills, 25 digs and four aces. Tom Greco (19 digs), Eric Niblock (7 kills, 10 digs), Andrew Harvey (9 kills) and Mike Hidalgo (41 assists) also contributed for the Tigers.

The victories improved Amherst to 4-2 in ECIC III and 7-2 overall. The Tigers were coming off losses against Maryvale, 22-25, 25-23, 17-25, 18-25, Sept. 15 and Eden, 12-25, 20-25, 14-25, Sept. 17.

Prior to these matches, Amherst won non-league matches over Niagara Falls, Kenmore East and Cardinal O’Hara.

For the season, Patterson leads Amherst with 115 kills (2.8 per game) while also recording 10 blocks, 29 aces and 151 digs.

Greco has recorded 40 kills, 9 blocks, 18 aces and 138 digs. Harvey has contributed 42 kills and 23 blocks. Niblock has posted 28 kills and 94 digs.

Hildalgo leads the team in assists with 196 (5.2 per game), and also has tallied 22 aces. Pat Stein has recorded 23 aces.

Amherst hosted Depew Monday, but information about the game was unavailable before press. The Tigers host Williamsville South Wednesday and Williamsville East Thursday.

North girls volleyball splits ECIC I matches
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Williamsville North’s girls volleyball team won both of its ECIC I matches, losing to Clarence, 15-25, 9-25, 13-25, Monday, Sept. 21 and beating West Seneca West, 25-21, 25-17, 25-20, Friday.

North coach Keith Hopkins said the team’s inconsistent serve receive cost them against Clarence.

“Our first ball contact was not what we would have liked,” he said. “We will continue to work on it and hope it will improve in the next couple weeks.”

Senior Elise Hopkins posted six kills.

The team’s serve receive improved against West Seneca West and it resulted in offense.

Senior Lauren Curtis recorded a career-high 13 kills against West Seneca West. Elise Hopkins had 10 kills, 20 service points won and eight aces.

Freshman Abby Vincent recorded 29 assists.

The team also got strong play and serve receive from eighth-grade libero Maddie Farber.

The Lady Spartans closed out the week by tying for fifth out of 12 teams at the St. Mary’s of Lancaster Tournament Saturday.

North lost to St. Mary’s, 18-25, 12-25, in the quarterfinals.

In pool play, North beat Lockport and lost to St. Mary’s and Lancaster.

“When we had decent first ball contact, we were right there with teams,” coach Hopkins said.

Elise Hopkins recorded 43 kills and 13 service points.

Junior libero Cassandra Rosen recorded a career-high 14 digs against St. Mary’s.

Coach Hopkins also noted the play of freshman right side hitter Allie Macon.

North (4-7, 1-4) faced Hamburg Monday and Lancaster Tuesday, but information about the matches was unavailable before press time. North hosts Jamestown Friday.

Clarence Girls volleyball team wins second straight tourney
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Clarence’s girls volleyball team defeated three 2014 state-championship winning squads on the way to claiming the Gold Division title at Saturday’s annual Eden Tournament, held this year at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center. Members of the team included, from left: bottom row - Emiley Kuhn, Karley King, Meghan Neelon, Maddie Christopher; middle row - Emily Perna, Lexi McDonald, Lyndsey Leipold, Hannah Marlowe; back row - asst. coach Kathy Neelon, Gretchen Weiss, Melissa Ratzel, Jaide Cummings, Grayce Enderby, Mary Owen and head coach Michael Meyer.


A Monsignor Martin Association school felt the wrath of Clarence’s girls volleyball team in the championship game of a tournament for the second straight weekend as the Lady Red Devils took down St. Mary’s of Lancaster in Saturday’s title contest at the Eden Girls Volleyball Tournament.

“There is probably no tournament in this area that is more synonymous with excellence than the Eden Girls Tournament,” coach Michael Meyer said. “It typically draws the best from all of Western New York and sometimes from even further.”

Clarence took down three defending state champions on its way to its most recent title, including Class D champion Portville (25-23, 25-20) during pool play. The Lady Red Devils also took down Immaculata Academy and Chautauqua Lake in pool play. Emily Perna scored two kills against Chautauqua Lake, while Gretchen Weiss and Hannah Marlowe took turns playing at the opposite setter position normally played by an injured Grayce Enderby; both brought enthusiasm and a high level of play to the position, according to Meyer.

Emiley Kuhn played some of her best volleyball of the year, according to Meyer, contributing key kills against Portville.

“The match [against Portville] was played at an extremely high level on both sides,” Meyer said. “In pool and throughout the day all members were able to contribute in their own way.”

Clarence then defeated Frontier (25-12, 25-17) in the quarterfinals before moving on to tournament hosts and perennial volleyball powerhouse — not to mention reigning Class C state champion — Eden in the semifinals. Clarence served extremely tough and exhibited strong ball control against Eden to pick up the 25-13, 25-16 win.

Meghan Neelon, Mary Owen and Melissa Ratzel “were huge” at the net, according to Meyer, blocking several Eden attacks for points. Lindsey Leipold and Jaide Cummings passed extremely well, allowing Neelon and fellow setter Maddie Christopher to smartly distribute the ball — which in turn allowed Karley King and Ratzel to add up the kills.

In the finals, Clarence played against its third state champion of the day in St. Mary’s in what was a rematch from a semifinal two weeks ago in the St. Mary’s tournament. After losing the first game (25-13), Clarence rallied around the defense of Cummings and the offense provided by Neelon, King and Ratzel.

After winning the second game (25-19), Clarence found itself down 13-9 at the switch. Once the teams switched sides, Clarence caught fire; Christopher “made some amazing sets,” according to Meyer, while King and Neelon “became unstoppable from both sides.” The defensive trio of Cummings, Leipold and Lexi McDonald “refused to let the ball hit the floor,” Meyer said, while Kuhn, Owen, Weiss and Marlowe “played with confidence and composure in the biggest match of their varsity careers.”

The last two points of Clarence’s 25-22 triumph in the decisive game came from what Meyer called “a thunderous right side attack from King, who then stepped back and served an ace off of the hands of a St. Mary’s passer.”

“I am extremely proud of the girls, not only for how they played but how they conducted themselves,” Meyer said. “They played from behind, played through rough stretches and finished games how you are supposed to. They showed resilience and composure, and demonstrated a belief in themselves and their teammates.”

Clarence had three All-Tournament Team selections on the day in Neelon, Cummings and King. Neelon, who Meyer said “is the undeniable emotional leader of the team,” averaged 12 kills, four aces and 10 digs per two-set match to go along with 12 assists. Cummings averaged four aces and 12 digs in addition to receiving a majority of the serves while King, the tournament MVP, averaged 13 kills, three blocks and nine digs.

The Lady Red Devils (5-0 ECIC I) returned to action Tuesday at Orchard Park (6-0 ECIC I) in a battle for the division lead, but information about that match was not available at press time.

Clarence closes out its week by traveling to Frontier this afternoon before hosting West Seneca West on Friday.

Red Devils Boys volleyball tops West, reaches Sweet Home tourney’s semis
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Clarence’s boys volleyball team played through some ups and downs during what was a busy week last week, defeating a league foe boasting a recruit for one of the nation’s premier men’s Division I schools but dropping a pair of close four-set matches before reaching the semifinals of Sweet Home’s annual tournament.

The Red Devils’ week began Sept. 21 with a 23-25, 21-25, 25-23, 23-25 loss at the hands of Lancaster. Clarence was able to slow down the Legends’ two big outside hitters, but couldn’t stop them entirely. By comparison, Clarence’s top outside hitter, Henry Payne, finished with 32 kills on the night.

Ben Janzow, playing opposite of Payne, took some of the focus off of Payne with his play, which helped open up opportunities for other players as well. One of those players, middle hitter Jake Ireland, continued his weekly improvement, according to coach Kevin Starr, showing with his blocking and hitting that he has the potential to be a “big factor for us as the season goes on.”

“This was just another typical ECIC I match,” Starr said. “Matches like this are business as usual in ECIC I, where all seven of the teams are very, very competitive and would challenge for first place in any other league.”

The Red Devils bounced back by defeating West Seneca West two days later by 25-17, 20-25, 26-24, 25-21 scores. Clarence’s serving attack and steady passing made it difficult for West to get where it needed to be to produce its typical large volume of big swings. Clarence, by contrast, received a 21-kill night from Payne and 12 additional kills from Janzow.

The victory was also crucial for Clarence because, going into the game, the Indians were a win ahead of the Red Devils in the standings.

“West’s best player has already committed to play in college at Penn State, one of the top men’s volleyball programs in the country, and they also have a second outside hitter who can pound the ball — but we served very well and made their hitters pass the ball,” Starr said.

Frontier was determined not to let Clarence build off of Wednesday’s win in its own gym — one Starr said “is very tough for visitors” due to its “low ceiling” and “one side that has wires that interfere with the flight of the ball on a regular basis” — but the Red Devils made it tough for Frontier to pull out its 25-23, 16-25, 25-20, 25-22 win over them.

Starr noted that in game one alone, the Red Devils “had at least five great passes and a few sets that hit the wires and affected the play.” At the same time, Starr wasn’t using that as an excuse, saying that “this was a match we could have and should have won.”

“Frontier is scrappy and they play great defense, so they kept returning the ball and we made unforced errors a little too often,” Starr said.

Payne finished the match with 33 kills even though Frontier had three blockers keying on him on almost every play, Starr said. Setter Dalton Squires had 40 assists.

Clarence then capped its busy weekend Saturday by traveling to Sweet Home for the Panthers’ annual tournament. The Red Devils swept pool play with wins over Niagara Wheatfield and Williamsville North. In the quarterfinals, the Red Devils faced a very tough Niagara Frontier League team in Lockport and came away from the contest with a 25-20, 25-20 win.

Starr noted that Lockport, the two-time defending NFL champs who he called “big and very athletic,” had no answer for Payne.

“The boys played very solid volleyball, and we won most of the battles at the net,” Starr said. “Lockport had no answer for Payne, and we were able to neutralize their offensive attacks pretty well with some improved blocking and another good job of back row defense.”

Clarence’s bid for a title ended in the semifinal round, however, at the hands of divisional foe Hamburg (25-21, 18-25, 11-15). Starr conceded that Hamburg’s defense “was the difference,” as the Bulldogs dug up a number of the swings that All-Tournament Team selection Payne (15 kills) and Janzow had for the match.

Ireland had four big blocks in the middle for the Red Devils (3-3 ECIC I), who returned to action Tuesday against Orchard Park in a match that ended too late for this edition. Clarence closes out its week by traveling to Hamburg Thursday.

USA Men Win World Cup
The U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team qualified for the Rio Olympics with the first-place World Cup finish

Megan Kaplon, Volleyball Magazine
Wednesday, September 30, 2015


The U.S. Men's National Team celebrates the win
over Argentina that secured their World Cup title.


The U.S. Men’s National Team won the 2015 FIVB Men’s World Cup, thus punching its ticket to the Rio Olympics. With a 10-1 record at the event, which was played in five Japanese cities, Team USA tied with Italy and Poland but won the first tiebreaker—total points—to finish on top.

Matt Anderson was named Most Valuable Player, leading Team USA to its first World Cup title in more than 20 years. The USA’s only loss came at the hands of reigning World Champ Poland. 

Italy won the other Olympic berth, tying Poland in points but coming out on top on points ratio—the second tiebreaker.

NCAA Volleyball's Biggest Stories of the Week
Wyoming crack top 25, Kentucky upsets Florida, and Minnesota goes a strong 1-1 to open conference play

Megan Kaplon, Volleyball Magazine
Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Samantha Bricio of USC.


USC Moves to No. 2

The undefeated USC Trojans elevated their standing with defeats of Pac-12 foes UCLA (in straight sets) and Stanford (in five) in the first week of conference play. Against Stanford, senior outside hitter Samantha Bricio scored a career-high 34 points (27 kills, five aces, four block assists) and added 10 digs. Bricio, who was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, moved up to fifth place all-time at USC for kills with 1,655.

USC will take on Washington State and No. 5 Washington this week.

Minnesota Climbs Five Spots After Strong Conference Opening

Last Wednesday, Minnesota opened Big Ten play with a five-set win over then No. 12 Ohio State. Outside hitter Daly Santana led the team with 19 kills in the 25-22, 25-12, 23-25, 19-25, 15-11 battle. The Gophers followed up that stellar performance by pushing No. 1 and undefeated Penn State to five sets. They were the first team to take the Nittany Lions to five so far this year. Santana led the team again, putting away 19 kills and four aces. After the 1-1 opening weekend, Minnesota moved up five spots to No. 16 in the AVCA Poll.

Arkansas Undefeated in SEC Play

Arkansas moved into conference competition after scoring two big five-set wins over Wisconsin and Kansas State. The Razorbacks then kept their momentum going through their first weekend of SEC play, defeating LSU in five and Texas A&M in four. The Razorbacks received 56 votes in this week’s AVCA Poll, coming up just short of the top 25. Texas transfer Pilar Victoria led the team in kills in both contests, putting away 30 against LSU and 20 against Texas A&M. Her performance earned her the SEC Offensive Player of the Week honor.

The Razorbacks will face perhaps their toughest in-conference challenge of the year on Sunday when they play No. 9 Florida. However, the Gators are coming off of a loss to Kentucky and may be vulnerable.

Kentucky Upsets Florida

Florida looked strong when it kicked off the SEC season with a sweep of Ole Miss, but only two days later, Kentucky took it to the Gators, scoring the upset victory in four sets. Brooke Morgan, a freshman from Iowa, posted a career-high 13 kills, second only to sophomore outside Darian Mack for the Wildcats. Kentucky scored nine aces against Florida and outhit the Gators .201 to .190. The win was Kentucky’s first over a top-five opponent since UK beat then No. 4-ranked Minnesota in 2013.

Carli Snyder had an outstanding night for the Gators, putting away a season-best and match-leading 16 kills and a career-high 14 digs, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the challenge from Kentucky.

Wyoming Breaks Into Top 25

Wyoming opened its conference play with solid wins over Boise State and Utah State. The Cowgirls, who started the season with a huge upset of Ohio State, are on a six-match win streak and have won nine of their last 10 matches, earning them their first appearance in the AVCA Top 25 since 1994. Junior outside hitter Kayla Slofkiss leads the team with 142 kills so far this season and ranks second in digs, behind only libero Alison Waldvogel, with 122.

The NVL Wraps up the 2015 Season
Raquel Ferreira and Vivian Cunha take women's title; Skylar DelSol and Piotr Marciniak top men's competition

Megan Kaplon, Volleyball Magazine
Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Meghan Mannari, a former LSU libero, played in the
NVL Player's Championship with Jayna Duke.


The NVL concluded its 2015 season at Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on September 25-27. The top eight teams of each gender competed for a total purse of $100,000.

On the women’s side, few were surprised when top seeds Raquel Ferreira and Vivian Cunha took home the championship by the score of 21-15, 21-18. The real shock was that No. 5 seeds Chara Harris and Brittany Tiegs booked their ticket into the final with a 21-18, 21-18 upset of No. 2-seeded Karolina Sowala and Brooke Niles in the semis.

On the men’s side, top seeds Dave Palm and Eric Zaun were unable to overcome the strong serving of No. 2 seed Piotr Marciniak and Skylar DelSol, succumbing 21-19,21-15 in the final. The win is especially notable as it is DelSol’s first NVL championship.

The NVL hosted eight events this season, dishing out a total of $525,000 in prize money over the year.

Western New York 2015 Boys Top 10 Poll - 9/29/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS
1. Canisius (12) 120
2. Eden 98
3. Orchard Park 84
4. Lancaster 76
5. West Seneca West 73
6. Frontier 63
7. Clarence 46
8. Hamburg 43
9. Grand Island 36
10. Lockport 9


Western New York 2015 Girls Top 10 Poll - 9/29/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Clarence (8) 89
2. Williamsville East (2) 83
3. Orchard Park 63
4. Lancaster 56
5. Hamburg 45
6. Sweet Home 39
7. Niagara Wheatfield 32
8. Williamsville South 28
9. Grand Island 20
10. Kenmore West 11
Also receiving votes: Jamestown, Starpoint and Frontier.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60
2. Eden 54
3. Portville 46
4. Nardin 40
5. North Collins 28
6. City Honors 24
7. Chautauqua Lake 20
8. Sacred Heart 19
9. Southwestern 15
T-10. Albion 10
T-10. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 10
Also receiving votes: Immaculata, Randolph and Panama.

Sidelines (Sept. 28): Coming Attractions
Buffalo News
Monday, September 28, 2015

The Clarence girls’ volleyball team has little time to celebrate its championship in Saturday’s Eden Tournament. The Red Devils return to action on Tuesday to take on Orchard Park.

Clarence beat three defending state champions in winning the weekend event. The highlight came in the finals, in which the Red Devils handed St. Mary’s its first loss since 2013. Clarence won the deciding third set by a score of 25-22. Earlier, the Red Devils knocked off Portville in pool play. In the playoffs, they beat Frontier and Eden in the first two rounds.

Grand Island and North Tonawanda are the only undefeated boys volleyball teams in the Niagara Frontier League. That may change on Friday, when the squads play on the Lumberjacks’ court. Before that, Grand Island has matches at Niagara Falls and with Lewiston-Porter. Meanwhile, the ECIC I Division is a scramble, with four teams having two or fewer losses. Two of them meet Thursday when Orchard Park goes against Frontier. A day later, the Quakers have a nonleague matchup with St. Joe’s.

Legends earn crown
Buffalo News
Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lancaster came away with the championship at the Sweet Home boys volleyball tournament. The Legends defeated Hamburg, 25-17, 25-18, in the final match to take the title.

Lancaster had defeated St. Mary’s in two sets in the semifinals, while Hamburg knocked off Clarence in three sets to advance.

Kenny Rudz of Lancaster was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Other on the All-Tournament team were Joe Degesare of St. Mary’s, Henry Payne of Clarence, Ryan Dils and Alex Andrzejewski of Hamburg, and Jay Baumann of Lancaster.

Elsewhere, Frontier captured the title in the Kenmore West tournament with a two-set win over the host school. Zach Gerken had seven kills and 12 assists in the final for the Falcons as he captured the Most Valuable Player honor. Teammates Owen Bean and Brandon Dunz also were part of the All-Tournament team.

Billies ramp it up
Buffalo News
Saturday, September 26, 2015

You’d expect the two teams that were tied for third in the boys volleyball rankings to stage a tight, tense match. West Seneca West and Orchard Park supplied one, as the Indians won in five games. The score of the fifth game was 25-23. Ian Barker led WSW with 15 kills, while Jake Siwy had 42 assists.

Elsewhere, it took the Williamsville South team a little time to get into high gear. But once the Billies did so, they were unstoppable. Williamsville South lost the first two games of its match with West Seneca East. Then the Billies won the next three games to take the match. The scores were 20-25, 22-25, 25-19, 25-13, 25-10. Joe Zanelotti had 21 kills for the Billies, while Shawn Barbalato provided 15 kills and eight blocks.

Clarence sweeps Lancaster
Buffalo News
Friday, September 25, 2015

It seems like Clarence won with ease considering the Red Devils swept Lancaster in ECIC I girls volleyball.

The match was not a cake walk as the Legends made Clarence earn its 25-19, 26-24, 25-20 triumph. Meghan Neelon had 17 assists and 16 kills, while Karley King had 12 kills and 12 digs for the winners. Clarence improved to 5-0 in ECIC I and 7-1.

“Lancaster played a great match tonight,” Clarence coach Mike Meyer said. “It really took our best effort to eke out a close one.”

Canisius volleyball 12-0
Buffalo News
Friday, September 25, 2015

Host Canisius improved to 12-0 with a 25-13, 25-13, 25-16 win over rival St. Joe’s in Monsignor Martin boys volleyball.

“We played OK,” Crusaders coach Tom Weislo said. “We were pretty efficient offensively. We were able to generate some pretty good transition offense. Things worked out.”

Charles Desmond led Canisius with 34 assists, while Griffin Schmit had 14 kills and Chas Palka added 11. The Crusaders, who have won all three tournaments they’ve entered this season, head to Albany to play in the Burnt Hills Tournament on Saturday against primarily Section II teams. Canisius is the defending Burnt Hills Tournament champion.

Young Frontier girls volleyball fights to find confidence
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Thursday, September 24, 2015

A slip-up while playing timid, to Frontier girls volleyball coach Debby Schruefer, is a problem. 

But if an unfavorable outcome results from aggressive and assertive nature, that’s just fine. In fact, that’s not only what Schruefer prefers, it’s what she’s relaying to her young team in 2015. 

Frontier graduated most of its starting lineup from 2014’s Section VI Class AA runner-up squad, and three of the losses are now in the college ranks, including McKyla Brooks, who is thriving at Division I Stony Brook. 

Not to fear, Schruefer said. Frontier has lost key cogs before and has found ways to recover — the Falcons have been in each Class AA title match since 2010, winning twice. 

The march back began Sept. 11, when Frontier lost a five-game ECIC I match to Lancaster. The next day, the Falcons qualified for the Silver division of the St. Mary’s tournament and fell in the quarterfinals to Immaculata. 

A short team, Frontier is working to gain the necessary cohesiveness and its foundation, which is attack, attack, attack, according to Schruefer. And the only way to accomplish that is to be unafraid. 

“We’re doing a lot to get the team chemistry going, and they’re doing a good job of that,” Schruefer said. “They’re just afraid to make a mistake. So I think the big thing is not being afraid to take the risk. If you fail, you fail. I said, ‘I’ll never yell with an aggressive mistake. I will if we’re sloppy and slow.’”

With each game, each match, Schruefer sees the team adjusting; sees it growing confidence. The end goal is to have a fearless bunch, competing right until the end like Frontier so often does. 

“Each time they get a touch, they get stronger,” Schruefer said. “It’s just understanding that you have to push yourself, and if you make a mistake, recover, and don’t get caught in the moment. That’s helping them a lot, just buying into that philosophy, that you’re going to learn from your mistakes.”

The senior tri-captaincy of MacKenzie Karwas, Molly Pienta and Kirstie Hall leads the Falcons. They’re all second-year varsity players. 

Karwas runs the offense as the setter, while Pienta and Hall are expected to get plenty of attacking opportunities as outside hitters. 

They’re being relied on to help drill that emphatic style into the team. 

“From the start of preseason we could tell there were some tentative people, but we’ve become a stronger team,” Karwas said. “Since we’re a tight-knit team, we are more comfortable taking the swing, taking the risk. We’re not afraid to kick each other in the butt and say, ‘This is what we need to do to win.’”

Sophomore Cami Duggan was the starting libero last season, and she’s right back in that role. Junior newcomer Brooke Buck and senior Rylee Kryszak also chip in with ball control as both rotate in as defensive specialists/liberos. 

Junior Emma Booth enters her second season on the team and Schruefer said she’s looking for her to “be a force.” Schruefer plans to utilize Booth, mainly an outside hitter/right side, all across the net.

Senior Sam Murray, an outside hitter, also returns after receiving court time in 2014. Sophomore Shelby Simmeth will see time as a right side and setter while juniors Macayla Barry and Shelby Burgess are the Falcons’ middle hitters. 

Junior Grace Sipos finds the court as a setter, and the team’s lone freshman, Kennedy Izzo, will serve as the opposite for Frontier. Juniors Cate Munich and Rachael Hagelberger are the utility players on the 15-player roster. 

“We have a really strong defense and that’s what’s going to win us games because we don’t have the height,” Pienta said. 

“We are a smaller team but we go to the gym, we condition,” Karwas said. “We do the things when nobody is looking. That’s what really matters — the heart and desire. That’s what wins us our games.”

With the season in its infancy for the Falcons, Schruefer noted the only way to increase overall confidence is by getting the reps. As that amount grows, so will a team that doesn’t have overwhelming varsity experience. 

“It’s just getting them to be a little more intense,” Schruefer said. “We talk about that if you have intensity in practice it’s going to happen in a game.”

“We’re getting stronger and better,” Hall added. “What I do, and I know our team does it to, is just use those losses as motivation to get back and fight harder next time.”


Frontier’s annual tournament has a new location this fall. The Falcons will host more than 20 teams, as the tournament takes place Oct. 3 at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center in West Seneca. 

Before that, Frontier will compete in the Eden tournament on Saturday (Sept. 26). 

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

Lancers take Round One versus Eden
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Thursday, September 24, 2015

In terms of girls volleyball in Western New York, winning tradition doesn’t get much richer than it is at Eden. 

Still, as junior setter Alyssa Durski noted, the six consecutive state titles and 22 straight division titles can be wiped away at the start of a new season. 

On Monday night (Sept. 21), the Raiders learned that there’s plenty more work to do before they can extend those impressive streaks. 

In one of the area’s marquee match-ups of the fall, if not the top one, Class C state champion Eden hosted fellow power St. Mary’s of Lancaster, the defending winner of Catholic states. 

To no surprise, it went the distance. 

Despite losing starting middle hitter Caitlyn Meyer, a junior, to an ankle injury midway through the match, the Lancers won an evenly-played non-league match in five sets, 25-22, 18-25, 27-25, 18-25 and 25-15. 

As expected, it was about even as can be, with the Lancers (9-0 as of press time) winning 113 points to Eden’s 112 in front of an energetic crowd of an estimated 500.

But Eden coach Stephen Pierce said it was an error-filled match on both sides, and that the Raiders’ winning chances went by the wayside with their missteps. In particular, he cited 18 missed serves. 

“I think the girls are feeling like they had some pretty good opportunities to close it out in four,” said Pierce, whose team is 6-2 (2-0 ECIC IV) as of press time.

Durski agreed with the sentiment that Eden could have won had it executed more cleanly. So from here, Durski said the loss can be taken as wake-up call. 

“It definitely shows us that we need to pick it up,” Durski said. “We always kind of seem to go into the year playing laid-back because we won states. But we realize once we get into the season that we really need to pick it up because there’s going to be competition. We’ve obviously won states a lot but this shows us that it doesn’t come easy.”

Durski was smooth in running the offense, registering more than 25 assists. Meghan Ballou led the Raiders with 16 kills, while junior Sam Burgio, the Maryland commit, chipped in with several kills. 

Sam Logan added a pair of aces and six kills for the Raiders, who also received offensive contributions from Molly Breier and Paiton Basinski.

“Overall, I thought we played pretty well, but we could have rallied together more as a team,” Durski said. “Serve-receive was a struggle and they’re a strong serving team. We’re going to face teams like that in the playoffs, and we have to play as a team to beat teams like that.”

Unlike a typical St. Mary’s-Eden tilt, blunders played a big role. And at the end, it was the Lancers who made fewer in front of the charged-up Eden faithful.

Game Three was the swing point. The teams split the first two before the Lancers won the third, 27-25, after the Raiders held a 24-23 lead. 

The Raiders won Game Four convincingly, but St. Mary’s did the same in Game Five, closing strong with a 25-15 showing. 

“We made a series of errors in Game Three,” Pierce said. “We had a lead and kind of threw it away, because then we dominated in Game Four. We let them back into it. That’s just too many opportunities for the other team. We had too many players who were sitting back waiting for somebody else to do the job.”

Alyssa Zirnheld and Summer Slade led St. Mary’s with 19 and 14 kills, respectively. Bailey Dolegowski set them up, recording 40 assists. Madeline Wnuk added 18 digs for the Lancers, while teammate Jess Kranz notched 16 digs. 

Kathryn Vogl, normally a right side, replaced Meyer in the middle. Once Lancers coach Don Pieczynski found the right reshuffled lineup, his team took off. 

“We tried to find a combination of players that worked, and we finally found the right set in the fourth game and it carried us through the match,” Pieczynski said. “We lost someone who could put the ball away. Everybody else had to step up.

“These are always tough matches. The pressure environment makes for that kind of match.”

Pieczynski said the Lancers have won each of their match-ups versus Eden for “at least four straight years.”

But Eden will have another crack, maybe two, at the Lancers, with the rematch scheduled for Oct. 21 at St. Mary’s. There’s also the possibility of both locking horns Saturday (Sept. 26), the date of the annual Eden tournament, which is at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center in West Seneca for the first time. 

After that, the Raiders are off to the ASICS Challenge, one of the nation’s most prestigious tournaments, held Oct. 2-3 at Mother McAuley High School in Chicago. It’ll be Eden’s first experience there. 

“These are nationally ranked teams, so we have to play better than we played (against St. Mary’s), that’s for sure,” Pierce said.

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

NC girls volleyball off to hot start
By: The Sun Staff | Sports Hamburg Sun
Thursday, September 24, 2015

The North Collins High girls volleyball team made it five straight wins to start the season with a sweep of Forestville Sept. 17 at home. 

Jasmine Filkov had 11 kills for the Eagles, while Courtney Wilson and Morgan Mathis chipped in eight and seven kills, respectively. Angela Filkov set them up and totaled 24 assists. 

The Eagles followed that up by running their win streak to six matches, defeating Class B Springville Saturday (Sept. 19) on the road. 

Angela Filkov notched 30 assists while Wilson had a team-high 10 kills. Mathis chipped in eight kills and Jasmine Filkov added seven of them. 

North Collins took on Southwestern on Tuesday (Sept. 22) but the result wasn’t available at press time.

OP volleyers top Lancaster
Buffalo News
Thursday, September 24, 2015

Orchard Park and Lancaster were tied for third in the latest WNY Coaches boys volleyball poll, but the Quakers scored a 3-1 victory over the Legends in their ECIC I match. Jason Manley had 24 kills and three aces and Spencer Eagleton piled up 43 assist for the Quakers (6-1, 4-0 ECIC I)in the victory.

City Honors Swept Starpoint
Buffalo News
Thursday, September 24, 2015

Makaila Banks had seven kills, seven digs and three aces while Juli Panepinto recorded 18 assists and two aces for City Honors in a three-set sweep over Starpoint in a nonleague girls volleyball. 

NC girls volleyball off to hot start
By: The Sun Staff | Sports Hamburg Sun
Thursday, September 24, 2015

Jasmine Filkov’s eight kills and eight aces paced the North Collins High girls volleyball team to a 3-0 victory Sept. 8 at Pine Valley, extending the Eagles’ season-opening win streak to three matches. 

Angela Filkov registered 19 assists in the victory, while Courtney Wilson added six kills and eight aces. Morgan Mathis chipped in with eight kills for the Eagles. 

North Collins went for 4-0 Tuesday at Gowanda. The result wasn’t available at press time.

Nardin standout Rand Leads
Buffalo News
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Emily Rand was an all-around standout for Nardin with 17 kills, 12 digs and three service aces as the Gators (4-0) stayed unbeaten in Monsignor Martin girls volleyball by sweeping three sets from Sacred Heart.

South boys volleyball wins three of first four
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Despite only returning three players, Williamsville South’s boys volleyball team has not missed a beat.

The Billies are 3-0 in ECIC II and 3-1 overall.

South’s league wins have come over Starpoint, 25-23, 25-16, 21-25, 25-22 Sept. 9 and Iroquois, 25-9, 25-9, 25-17 Sept. 11 at home and at Lake Shore 25-9, 25-18, 26-24 Sept. 15.

Senior outside hitter Joe Zanelotti recorded 15 kills and 10 aces and senior middle hitter Shawn Barbalato recorded eight kills. Zanelotti and Barbalato are the team captains and are two of the three returning players.

Zanelotti posted seven kills and 11 aces and Barbalato posted eight kills and four aces versus Iroquois. 

Barbalato led the Billies against Lake Shore with 14 kills and three aces.

South’s most recent match before press time was a 7-25, 14-25, 14-25 non-league loss at Grand Island Wednesday.

The Billies committed 10 service errors and recorded only seven kills.

Other players coach Thom Knab noted for their play throughout the four matches were senior setter Evan Manna, junior right side hitter Mitchell Binda and freshman libero/setter Nico Zanelotti. Manna is the third returning player from last year’s roster.

South traveled to Williamsville East Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to West Seneca East Friday.

Sweet Home girls volleyball wins Starpoint Tourney 
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Sweet Home girls volleyball team is usually a contender in regular-season tournaments but never a champion, but that all changed Saturday.

The Lady Panthers defeated Immaculata, 25-19, 25-19, to win the Starpoint Tournament.

“Sweet Home doesn’t tend to win a ton of tournaments,” Sweet Home coach Breean Martin said. “In my coaching at Sweet Home, we have won one tournament and it was our tournament, Sept. 14. 2013. They played great as a team and are eager to learn.”

Martin said her team’s height played dividends throughout the tournament, especially the strong defense at the net.

Sweet Home went 5-1 in pool play, splitting games against Albion and beating Lewiston-Porter and Nichols, and beat Kenmore West, 20-25, 25-13, 15-7 in the semifinals. Senior middle hitter Rachel Reusch and senior setter/ defensive specialist Claire Hiwiller were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Martin also noted the play of senior libero Hannah Sigurdson, junior middle hitter Tirzah Peters and sophomore right-side hitter Christie Ackendorf.

Sweet Home opened the week with a 25-20, 25-19, 25-11 home win over Starpoint Sept. 14 and then downed Lake Shore 23-25, 25-14, 25-14, 25-18.

Reusch and Hiwiller led the team in both matches. Reusch recorded 16 kills and 10 digs and Hiwiller handed out 25 assists against Starpoint, and Reusch had 16 kills, 13 digs, eight blocks and four aces and Hiwller had 30 assists, eight digs, three kills and three aces versus Lake Shore.

Sweet Home (3-1) travels to Williamsville East Thursday and Niagara-Wheatfield Friday. 

Williamsville North

The Lady Spartans downed North Tonawanda 25-22, 25-23, 25-17 at home Sept. 16 and fell to 0-3 in ECIC I with a loss at Orchard Park 17-25, 22-25, 27-29 Thursday.

Elise Hopkins (9 kills, 16 service points), Noelle Gulick (6 kills) and Abby Vincent (27 assists) led North against NT.

Against OP, North had a 15-5 lead in the second game and an 18-10 lead in the third game and lost both.

“I knew going into the season we would have some inexperience and consistency and it is proving true,” North coach Keith Hopkins said. “The good news is if we can play the way we are capable of, we can beat anybody in our division.”

Elise Hopkins (12 kills), Lauren Curtis (10 kills), Gulick (6 kills) and Morgan Simon (5 kills) paced North.

The Lady Spartans (2-3 overall) traveled to Clarence Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They host West Seneca West Friday and travel to the Eden Tournament Saturday.

East boys volleyball upsets Clarence
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Jacob Weissert of Williamsville East gets low to make contact with the ball during the Flames’ 16-25, 25-22, 20-25, 25-23, 31-29 victory over Clarence Sept. 16. The Flames are 4-0. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Expectations were not high heading into the 2015 season for the Williamsville East boys volleyball team.

Only four seniors returned, including starters Alex Grano (middle hitter) and Mike Shanahan (outside hitter). But after four matches, the Flames are 4-0.

East’s biggest win of the year was a 16-25, 25-22, 20-25, 25-23, 31-29 victory over Clarence Sept. 16. The victory avenged a loss to Clarence last year in which East lost the fifth set, 36-34.

East coach Mike Braunscheidel called it the biggest win in his six-year coaching career and possibly the biggest win in the history of the program. 

“After the match, some players dropped to their knees in pure exhaustion and others were high-stepping off the court because they were so excited that they won,” he said. “It’s the biggest win Williamsville East has had in boys volleyball in school history or in quite some time. I’m still receiving text messages from other coaches around the area. It was really nice.” 

After winning the fourth game, Braunscheidel said the team huddled together and said “the pressure was on Clarence and we can go out and play loose.”

Braunscheidel said the fifth game was an overall team effort.

“Sophomore outside hitter Drew Elliott played tremendous defense and had timely hitting,” he said. “Junior Sam Schatmeyer called a phenomenal game at setter. Senior Jacob Weissert and junior Ali Khadra did a nice job blocking. Overall, the team showed tremendous poise, heart and perseverance throughout the match.”

Braunscheidel also said his team did a good job in limiting Clarence’s top player, Henry Payne.

“He still got his points but at times we were able to block him and dig up his hits,” he said.

He also said everyone on the team stepped up and served well.

East is 3-0 in ECIC II with wins over Lake Shore, 25-13, 25-16, 22-25, 26-24, Sept. 3, West Seneca East, 25-19, 25-20, 25-21 Sept. 15, and Iroquois, 25-13, 25-10, 25-11, Thursday.

The Flames also tied for third place at the North Tonawanda Tournament, falling to Grand Island, 22-25, 19-25, in the quarterfinals.

East was on the verge of finishing 6-0 in pool play but ended 2-4, losing by two points in both sets against Lockport and losing by two and four points against Starpoint.

Grano was named to the All-Tournament Team. Braunscheidel noted the play of junior Erik Regan for stepping in for Weissert, who was unavailable during pool play.

East’s JV volleyball team took second at the North Tonawanda Tournament.

East hosted Williamsville South Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. The Flames host Starpoint Friday. 

email: pnagy@beenews.com

East improves to 4-0
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Williamsville East’s girls volleyball team moved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in ECIC Division II with home wins over West Seneca East, 25-16, 25-9, 25-15, Sept. 15 and Iroquois 25-11, 25-11, 25-10 Friday.

“The overall focus was good,” East coach Scott Wright said. “We always talk about playing our level of volleyball all the time and they did a good job of achieving that.”

Senior Carly Shifflet led East against West Seneca East with 17 kills, eight digs, five aces and a hitting percentage of .682.

“She’s our go-to player,” Wright said. “We want her to be a big focus of our match. When she plays well, we play well.”

Also contributing for East included junior Lexi Novak (8 kills, 5 digs), sophomore Makayla Greenfield (26 assists, 6 kills) and junior Julianna Benz (4 assists, 5 digs, kill).

“It shows our team depth is playing really well,” Wright said. “To play a lot of players and still keep the same level of volleyball is nice to have as a coach.”

Wright said his team kept the pressure on Iroquois throughout the match.

A serving run by Greenfield opened East to a 6-1 lead and the team went ahead 17-5. East opened a 17-2 lead in the second set and held Iroquois to 16.7 percent side out percentage in the third set.

East hit .371 as a team against Iroquois. Shifflet posted 14 kills and a .737 hitting percentage. She has 114 kills for the season.

Novak added 9 kills and three aces. She has 85 kills for the season.

Greenfield recorded 27 assists and five aces. She has 222 assists and 16 aces for the season. Senior Sam Mendelsohn recorded 18 digs.

East traveled to Williamsville South Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They host Sweet Home in a rematch of last year’s Section VI Class A final Thursday.

Will East boys volleyball tops Red Devils in Flames’ ‘biggest win in program history’
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Henry Payne elevates for a jump serve during the boys volleyball team’s 3-2 loss to Williamsville East on Sept. 16. Payne finished the match with 44 kills. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com

Williamsville East’s boys volleyball team pulled out all of the stops to take out Clarence on Sept. 16, 16-25, 25-22, 20-25, 25-23, 31-29, in what Flames coach Michael Braunscheidel acknowledged afterwards was “the biggest win in their program’s history,” Clarence coach Kevin Starr relayed.

Starr said that Clarence “made too many uncharacteristic errors,” and that the Red Devils also “got a very bad break in game five when a kill that would have ended the match for us was ruled as being a block for them.”

“I know it’s a sports cliché, but it applies in this case: East won this match because they wanted it more than we did,” Starr said. “After we won the first game, I reminded the kids that we trounced East in the first game over there last year and ended up having to struggle to win a five-game marathon. I’m sure that their coach was telling his boys the same thing.

“As for that play in the fifth game that proved to be pretty pivotal, we have some video that shows that the ball landed on their side of the court, not ours,” Starr continued. “But, I also want there to be no mistake made — East earned this win. After the match, East’s coach said that this was the biggest win in their program’s history, and their kids played like it was. Everyone, including Henry [Payne], would admit that we should have closed the deal, and it’s our own fault for not doing so. This match just proved that even having one of the best players in Western New York isn’t alone going to be enough to beat strong teams.”

Payne finished the match with 44 kills on 81 swings, while Jake Ireland added 10 kills in what Starr said was “his best performance of the season.”

The loss came right on the heels of the Red Devils’ 25-22, 25-19, 25-11 triumph over Williamsville North the previous evening. North, which gave both Lancaster and West Seneca West all they could handle during its matches with those schools, did the same with Clarence. Starr called the first game “a battle” that featured both teams getting lots of solid swings, but Starr hypothesized that the Red Devils simply “wore them down by game three.”

“Don’t let the scores be misleading — North is a strong team,” Starr said. “They probably feel that they played badly, but us winning that night was mostly due to the fact that we were really clicking. We passed well and our defense gave us lots of opportunities. This was probably our best performance of the season, which makes what happened the next night even more frustrating.”

Payne had a lower-than-usual 13 kills, but to keep that in perspective he only got 25 swings for the whole match. Setter Dalton Squires was able to move the ball around a little more than usual and give some of the other hitters — including Ben Janzow, had seven kills — some opportunities.

Clarence returned to action Monday at Lancaster, but information about that contest was not available at press time.

The Red Devils will close out their busy week by hosting West Seneca West this evening before traveling to Frontier Friday in a final tune-up for their appearance in Saturday’s annual Sweet Home Tournament.

Clarence Girls volleyball defends title at own tourney
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Clarence’s girls volleyball team defended its title Saturday when it defeated Sacred Heart 25-11, 25-11) to claim the Gold Division’s championship at the annual Clarence Tournament. Members of the team include, from left: front row - Karley King, Meghan Neelon; middle row - Emily Perna, Gretchen Weiss, Emiley Kuhn, Maddie Christopher, Lyndsey Leipold; back row - Melissa Ratzel, Grayce Enderby, Jaide Cummings, Lexi McDonald, Mary Owen and Hannah Marlowe.


A different dance partner in the end wasn’t enough to throw Clarence’s girls volleyball team off its collective game in the Gold Division’s finals at Saturday’s annual Clarence Tournament, as the Lady Red Devils walked away with the top prize for the second straight year.

This time it was Sacred Heart that came up on the short side of the championship game, as the Lady Red Devils topped them by 25-11, 25-11 scores to claim the title of the tournament, which was expanded to 12 teams this year. The field included four of the top-10 ranked large schools.

Clarence defeated Niagara Wheatfield 25-16, 25-19 in the semifinals to earn its spot in the Gold Division’s final.

“I think that we’re always looking to win our own tournament, but more importantly the girls want to play well in front of their home crowd,” coach Mike Meyer said. “To that end, I was very pleased at how all of the girls played. Throughout the day all of our girls got significant playing time and whoever was in at the time played at a very high level. Tournaments can make for long days, so I was also very proud of how the girls were able to stick together.”

Tournament MVP Meghan Neelon was joined by Karley King and Jaide Cummings as members of the All-Tournament Team. King and Neelon provided “some thunderous kills from the outside” as well as tough serving and aggressive defense, according to Meyer, while Neelon and Maddie Christopher “ran an efficient and diversified offense, with much more emphasis on the middle attack.”

Middle hitters Melissa Ratzel, Mary Owen and Emily Perna all registered kills during pool play and the playoffs, while Cummings, Lindsey Leipold and Lexi MacDonald all passed, served and defended at a very high level, Meyer said. Outside hitters Emiley Kuhn, Gretchen Weiss and Hannah Marlowe provided timely kills and all picked up their play after starter Grayce Enderby rolled her ankle.

Clarence entered its tournament on quite the roll after posting three-set victories over league foes West Seneca West, Hamburg and Jamestown on Sept. 11, 14 and 18, respectively. The wins, which gave Clarence a 3-0 mark in ECIC I play, came as a result of tough serving, steady serve receive, solid defense and a diversified offensive attack.

Through this point in the season, Cummings is leading improvement,” Meyer said. “We are squarely focused on playing our best volleyball at the end of October when playoffs arrive, and to be doing that, it is going to mean looking at every practice and every match as a chance to get better. This starts with the coaches and the leaders on the team, and will require the effort of all members of the team. We also have to be prepared for some adversity and, when we face it, we have to respond with resilience.”

(Reporter Jason Nadolinski contributed to this article.) the team in aces and digs, while Neelon and King are first and second in blocks and kills. Right behind those two are middle hitters Ratzel and Owen, whom Meyer said are providing a viable and consistent threat from the middle hitter position.

“Having such an option at middle is getting us more one on one blocks on the outside and backside for hitters such as Neelon and King, but also for Enderby and Kuhn,” Meyer said of Ratzel and Owen. “Christopher and Neelon are spreading the ball around very smartly and keeping opposing blockers off balance, and we also have the luxury of two outstanding defensive specialists in Leipold and MacDonald who serve tough, pass well, and play aggressive defense. We also have three players in reserve in Perna, Marlowe and Weiss, who have stepped up to provide a spark whenever called upon.”

Clarence returned to action Monday by hosting Williamsville North, but information about that match was not available at press time. The Lady Red Devils close out their week by hosting rival Lancaster Thursday before taking part in Eden’s annual tournament on Saturday, held this year at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center.

“In order to continue to play at a high level we have to focus on our goal of continuous.

South’s Knab gets 300th win
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Williamsville South’s Joe Zanelotti spikes over two would-be Williamsville East
blockers. Zanelotti had 12 kills and 10 aces. James P. McCoy/ Buffalo News


Unranked despite an 4-0 record in ECIC II, Williamsville South swept three sets from 10th-ranked Williamsville East for coach Thom Knab’s 300th career win.

Shawn Barbalato had 13 kills and four aces while Joe Zanelotti had 12 kills and 10 aces for the Billies. It was the first loss in the division for the Flames.

Western New York 2015 Boys Top 10 Poll - 9/22/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS
1. Canisius (12) 120
2. Eden 108
T-3. Lancaster 75
T-3. Orchard Park 75
T-3. West Seneca West 75
6. Frontier 72
T-7. Clarence 41
T-7. Hamburg 41
9. Grand Island 19
10. Williamsville East 18


Western New York 2015 Girls Top 10 Poll - 9/22/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Clarence (6) 87
2. Williamsville East (3) 84
3. Orchard Park 72
4. Lancaster 60
5. Hamburg 54
6. Niagara Wheatfield 30
7. Sweet Home 27
8. Kenmore West 18
9. Williamsville South 17
T-10. Grand Island 11
T-10. Frontier 11
Also receiving votes: West Seneca West, Springville, Starpoint and Cheektowaga.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60
2. Eden 54
3. Portville 42
4. Sacred Heart 38
5. Nardin 35
6. North Collins 28
7. City Honors 24
8. Albion 20
9. Randolph 14
10. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 10
Also receiving votes: Chautauqua Lake, Immaculata and Alden.

Hard-working Bulldogs push to overcome lack of height on road to three-peat
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

When Hamburg boys volleyball coach Brian Carroll looked at his returning crew for 2015, he decided to run as rigorous a preseason as he has in recent years. 

With just one starter back from 2014’s Section VI Division II champion — the Bulldogs’ second straight sectional title — Hamburg has a young look. But Carroll thinks his group is plenty capable, it’s just not as seasoned, and not as tall after losing talents like Zach Yerington, now at Ohio State, Doug Horbachewski, Bryan Camp, David Edie and Tom Hoff. 

“Watching us might be like watching a tennis match,” Carroll said in regards to the lost height. 

To compensate for being height challenged, for trotting out a near brand-new lineup, Carroll put his team through hard conditioning and thorough training overall during the first weeks of practice.

“I wanted to make sure we were ready to go,” Carroll said. 

The Bulldogs responded by showing that they are, in fact, ready to again compete against the area’s premier powers despite the fresh faces. At the highly regarded Clarence tournament last month, Hamburg won its pool before losing in the quarterfinals of the Gold bracket. 

Senior setter Ryan Dils is the lone returning starter, and he’ll serve as one of three captains with fellow senior Austin O’Shei and junior Alex Andrzejewski. Dils felt the extensive training was necessary and beneficial. It’s how Hamburg is going to sustain the program’s high standard as the Bulldogs strive for a sixth sectional crown since 2004. 

“We definitely need to be pushed because we’re young,” Dils said. “A lot of the guys were on JV last year so they needed to know the drills, how to be pushed, and how to win on varsity. 

“We play the top dogs,” he added on Hamburg playing an ECIC I regular season. “So the young guys need to know how to play that way. That’s the only way we can compete, is to be pushed. And coach knows what he’s doing.”

Carroll was satisfied with how his 14 players reacted to being asked to give a little extra.

“They’re not interested in losing,” Carroll said. “They’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do. We need to get more conditioned and more physical because we’re small. So we need to either accept that or find a different way to win.”

In ways, all that’s changed from last season is the team dropping a few inches on the court. 

“We’re picking up where we left off,” Carroll said. “We’re as skilled or more skilled than last year at certain positions, but we’re just a lot shorter. So blocking-wise and offensively we’re not the same team as last year. Right now they’re the second-best shorter team in Western New York. Eden is the same height we are but they have more experience coming back.”

Dils was one of the key guys on Hamburg’s last two championship teams, but he’s now “the guy,” Carroll said. He’ll run the offense as the setter, and Carroll is more than comfortable with that.

“He has to be the straw that stirs the drink,” Carroll said. “He’s going to be put in more situations where he has to do things, so he’s going to have to step up to the plate and be the guy he knows he can be.”

O’Shei is a left side/right side who was a backup specialist last fall and is now starting. The 5-foot-10 Andrzejewski is one of the Bulldogs’ most dynamic players, Carroll said, as he provides good passing and hitting from the left side and right side. 

Senior Jack Lillan (6-foot-4), who received time a year ago, holds down one of the middle spots while the other starting middle, at least to start the season, was sophomore Will McKeever. The 6-foot-2 McKeever won that job out of camp, but Carroll said there will be a season-long battle between McKeever and several others for that position. 

Junior Dan Gunning is Hamburg’s libero and Jon Gordner, a junior, will pitch in as a starting left side. 

“We’re a young team but we’re getting better every day,” Dils said. “That’s all we can do and I like where the team is heading. I think we’ll be able to catch the top teams by the end of the season. It’s my job to be a leader of this team and I’m ready for the challenge.”

The emphasis of Hamburg’s game in 2015 is passing, defense and serve-receive since the lacking of size almost completely negates big blocks and kills. The Bulldogs will try and be fundamentally sound.

Additionally, Dils believes they have a potentially game-changing dynamic.

“Our serving is looking a lot better,” Dils said. “Even better than last year. We have four guys who can jump-serve at any time, and that’s a key asset to winning.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

West Seneca facility is volleyball mecca and boon to the sport
By Budd Bailey, Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Meyer Road is located just north of the Route 400 Expressway in West Seneca, fairly close to the Thruway. It’s a small, isolated business area, and two types of people mostly travel it: truck drivers and volleyball players.

Sam Burgio is one of the latter.

“Sometimes during the year, I’m there three days a week for practice, plus two other days,” said Burgio, a junior on Eden High School’s girls volleyball team.

The destination of Burgio and some of Western New York’s other top volleyball players is the Buffalo Niagara Court Center. The outside looks like a warehouse, a nice fit with the surroundings, but the inside is mostly devoted to volleyball. Six courts might be set up on a particular day to go with locker rooms, a pro shop, and other amenities.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” said Meghan Ballou, a teammate of Burgio’s at Eden. “We’ve been going there since it was built from the ground up. It’s really grown. It’s a good complex.”

Western New York’s high school volleyball players have done well over the years by any standard. The teams have acquitted themselves in state competition, and the players have gone on to contribute to some of the top college teams in the country.

The BNCC has turned into a collection point for many of the area’s top players, particularly outside the high school season in times other than the fall when high schools are playing their schedules. The building, open since 2007, was provided by Gary Hill, co-owner of a large construction company.

“Gary had a love for volleyball because at least one of his daughters was heavily involved in it at Frontier,” said Stephen Pierce, coach of the Eden girls team. “Like a good businessman, he wanted to give back to the community. He turned an idea for a warehouse into a sports complex.”

The closest comparable facility to the one in West Seneca is located in Cleveland. The Ohio complex provided some features that were copied and adapted for use here. There’s one near Albany, and a Rochester complex that will be smaller than the one here should be open next year.

“There’s a girl from Pennsylvania,” Burgio said about the drawing power of the facility. “They come in from Allegany, an hour-and-a-half drive. They’re coming in from pretty far.”

When the facility first opened, most of the girls’ club activity fell under the umbrella of Niagara Frontier Volleyball, while the boys had several different organizations as options. When Niagara Frontier Volleyball moved into the complex to set up a base of operations, the advantages became obvious.

“A central location was ideal,” said Rocco Lucci, Niagara Frontier Volleyball’s club director. “Before, we were at practice sites all over the place. With a club as big as Niagara Frontier, with all these kids trying to play, we never saw most of them. Once we were in one location, everything became more efficient – the training, the learning, the player development.”

The relationship between the BNCC and Niagara Frontier Volleyball gives the club first crack at the prime times for the courts. The boys, however, get on the floor at times. Robert Pierce, Eden’s boys volleyball coach, runs a club team that had been located in that village but is on the move.

“Since the opening of the BNCC, we have started to move many of our practices there,” he said. “This year, we’ll have almost all of our practices there. The old way was great for the Eden kids, since they woke up and drove five minutes. But just having a training facility specifically for volleyball, and being centrally located, has been tremendous.”

There are plans to expand the facility by a couple of more courts. That would give the boys more access.

Pierce points out that the extra space is a true luxury when it comes to teaching.

“We’ll do a thing similar to what the top clubs in the nation do,” he said. “We’ll put three teams on two courts. You can vary drills that way, you can do more six-on-six.

“Having the courts side by side, I can walk down and work with the younger kids, while other knowledgeable coaches can work with my kids. I can see where the kids fit in the pipeline.”

The BNCC’s year more or less begins in the fall, according to assistant facility director Shannon Superczynski.

Both the Eden high school teams have their fall tournaments there. The girls tournament will be held Saturday. It’s easier to accommodate a large field there than at a school gym or two.

“There is a downside in that we’re not playing at home,” Robert Pierce said. “But I think the most important thing is that it helps the growth of the sport, the exposure of the sport. I want to say we had 10 different college coaches there. They love it. They can watch all the great athletes play at once.”

The clubs take over once the high school season ends in November, and teams play in regional and national tournaments to improve their skills by going up against great players.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Declan Pierce of the Eden boys team. “During the school season, you play against all of the other people, but everyone comes together after that. … You’ll get better playing nationally ranked teams around the country.”

The BNCC has been around long enough that those who played volleyball there while in junior high are now at college. They are frequent visitors when they return on college breaks.

“If the NCAA rules allow it, they are jumping in to help,” Lucci said. “They are giving the kids pointers, helping coach them. When the college kids say, ‘Do this,’ the kids start working out. They send the best messages to the current players. We’ve even had alumni games.

“Matt Anderson is from West Seneca. He is one of the top players in the world, and he is one of the oldest players on the U.S. National team. When he comes home, he comes here to work out.”

The BNCC rents out court time for anything from friendly games to private lessons. The center also runs its own youth volleyball programs, starting with children who are as young as 4.

The result of all of this activity is a steady stream of top volleyball talent, which has led to plenty of scholarship dollars coming this way.

“I always tell parents, if you want a sport that can give your child at shot at getting a scholarship, it’s volleyball,” Stephen Pierce said. “We’ve had people at Duke, Penn State, Syracuse, UNC, Wyoming – all sorts of places. College coaches come to watch our kids here.

“The facility provides so many opportunities. It’s been a real godsend for those trying to improve their programs, and to help kids get to the next level. We have all these sports in Western New York, and we in volleyball have the most kids playing in the NCAA at all levels. A lot of it is because of the work we’re able to do there.”

email: bbailey@buffnews.com

City offers potential for more volleyball growth
By Budd Bailey, Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rocco Lucci, the director of Niagara Frontier Volleyball, says that players come from Erie, Olean, Warsaw, Rochester and Wilson to West Seneca’s Buffalo Niagara Court Center to participate in programs.

Yet there are only a handful that come from a much closer distance to participate. The City of Buffalo definitely is underrepresented.

“There are a few players that play in the Buffalo Public School leagues that play in our club,” he said. “They are very talented. We would like to see more city kids come to participate.”

Buffalo obviously has plenty of top athletes at its schools, and some of them play volleyball. For example, City Honors has a long tradition of success in girls volleyball.

But many of those athletes haven’t become part of club volleyball, and one possible reason is logistics. Transportation to and from the West Seneca complex may not be available, perhaps because a parent is unable to drive the student a few miles to practice several times per week.

Then there is the matter of travel expenses. Club teams often take trips around the country to take on top teams from other regions. The dollars can add up in a hurry, what with airfare, hotels, food, etc.

“Anyone who has kids involved in travel sports knows it is expensive,” said Stephen Pierce, coach of the Eden girls volleyball team. “That’s one of our next goals as we look at the next eight years of our club and try to improve. We want to find ways to improve the way we tap into the great city talent.”

Robert Pierce, coach of the Eden boys team, said “Starlings” is looking to come into Buffalo. The organization has grown from one team in San Diego in 1996 to the largest junior volleyball club in the country. It serves 3,000 girls in more than 50 clubs across the nation regardless of their socioeconomic background. No girl (ages 10-18) is turned away because of an inability to pay.

It might take some work for Buffalo’s volleyball players to join in year-round programs. But if they do, a region with a great volleyball tradition can only become stronger.

“When those kids play club, they know they’re getting better,” Lucci said. “That club kid is playing from December through the middle of May. When they go back to school in September, they are a lot better.”

email: bbailey@buffnews.com

Recapping 2015's Top Non-Conference NCAA Volleyball Match-Ups
The early season matches that set the tone for the rest of the year

Megan Kaplon, Volleyball Magazine
Monday, September 21, 2015

Ohio State's Taylor Sandbothe (10) celebrates


The NCAA conference season is about to heat up, but before we move on to inter-league rivalries, we’ll recap some of the best early season nonconference matches.

Penn State Sweeps Stanford 
September 5, 2015

One of the most anticipated nonconference matches of the season turned out to be not as competitive as expected. No. 1-ranked Penn State asserted its dominance and has held onto that top ranking ever since. Stanford, which followed up this loss with another to North Carolina only three days later, fell to third the next week in the polls and then to No. 8 on September 14.


Florida Defeats Texas in Austin 
September 5, 2015

The same day that Penn State took down Stanford, then No. 4-ranked Florida upset then No. 3-ranked Texas thanks in large part to big contributions from sophomore middle Rhamat Alhassan, including 13 kills, three solo blocks, and six block assists.


Ohio State Outlasts Florida State 
September 6, 2015

Ohio State played the then No. 14-ranked Florida State Seminoles twice in a row during the D.C. Koehl Classic and came out victorious in both meetings. The first match went to five, with OSU claiming the win thanks to 20 kills from Elizabeth Campbell and seven blocks from Taylor Sandbothe. The next night, Sandbothe (15 kills and five blocks) and Campbell (16 kills and nine digs) led the team once again, helping the Buckeyes to secure the W in four sets, including a dominant third-set 25-13 thrashing.


BYU Wins First Home Game of Season Over Idaho State 
September 9, 2015

The 2014 national runner-up BYU started the season with six road matches before facing Idaho State in the Cougars’ first home match of the year. Though BYU avoided the upset, the ISU Bengals pushed the match to five sets. Sophomore Chloe Hirst led Idaho State with her first career double-double (14 kills and 15 digs), and Alexa Gray came up big for BYU with 19 kills.


Hawaii Hands Florida First Loss of Season 
September 11, 2015

Anytime you travel to Hawaii to face the Rainbow Wahine, you have to expect a tough match—even if you’re ranked second in the nation as Florida was when they made their journey west. Hawaii, led by outside hitter Nikki Taylor’s 27 kills, middle blocker Olivia Magill’s five blocks, and libero Savanah Kahakai’s 19 digs, channeled the power of their loyal crowd to score the upset win and move from No. 16 to No. 12 in the AVCA Poll.


Washington Handles Oklahoma on the Road 
September 18, 2015

UW traveled to Norman to close out their nonconference season and got the best of the Sooners in four sets. Oklahoma did manage to hand Washington their first set loss of the season in the 25-19, 23-25, 25-13, 25-22 match. Washington hit .402 as a team, while Oklahoma, led by outside hitters Kimmy Gardiner and Madison Ward with 11 kills each, hit .235.

Arizona State Prevails Over Illinois in Five-Setter 
September 19, 2015

Then No. 6-ranked Illinois took the first set when they faced ASU in Tempe, but the Sun Devils rallied back, and strong performances from both teams pushed this top-10 match-up to five sets with the home team eventually taking the W (23-25, 25-19, 25-11, 15-25, 15-11). The 11-0 start is ASU’s best since 1976 while the loss dropped Illinois to 9-2, with the only other loss coming at the hands of Stanford in the second weekend of the season.

Faust places trust in hands of Buss, Gerken
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Sunday September 20, 2015

As Matt Buss and Zach Gerken are finding out, being the unquestioned leaders of a successful team is an all-encompassing job. 

From the big picture, like steering the Frontier boys volleyball team in the correct direction as it chases a fifth sectional final appearance in six seasons, to the small — directing everyday chores like collecting the loose volleyballs at the end of practices. 

“They’re going through a big learning curve right now, just simple things,” Falcons coach Bill Faust said. “You have to fetch the volleyballs, you have to set up the practice. You work up to bigger things, like when the game is tight, what kind of decisions do you make. It’s going to take time and patience on everybody’s part. I’m excited for the two of them.”

While Gerken was one of three captains as a sophomore in 2014, setter Jake Gleason was the head leadership figure for the Falcons last fall, and for much of his long varsity career. 

Gleason graduated, and the torch was passed to Buss, the 6-foot-5 senior outside hitter, and Gerken, the junior who sets and plays outside. They were chosen as the captains a day before the Falcons’ opener — a straight-game, non-league win over Lake Shore Sept. 8.

Their physical abilities are not a concern to Faust. He’s fully confident that Buss will flourish at outside hitter, which he’s playing for the first time after being a middle most his life, and that Gerken can handle a dual-position role.

But Faust admitted that the intangible features of being a captain are a “work in progress.” Ultimately, though, he thinks they’ll be quality leaders of the 2015 Falcons, who figure to once again be a Section VI Division I contender come playoff time. They were 2-0 at press time.

“(Gleason) was our captain for most of three years and played with us for five,” Faust said. “There are some big shoes to fill. It’s going to be interesting to see how they grow as leaders. I know they both have to work on a lot of things, and they’ll do it. They’re good kids.”

Buss and Gerken quickly found out they’re in control of the most routine of tasks. Near the end of a recent practice, the Falcons retrieved all of the balls that were scattered in the gym. 

Or so they thought. 

Faust found a stray, and let the team know about it. It was a lesson in attention to detail, part of that “learning curve.”

“We’re just trying to get everything to flow a lot better,” Buss said. 

“We’re trying to delegate everything. Make practice run as smoothly as possible,” Gerken said. “I try to get the guys excited, too. Just keep them pumped.”

As far as leadership goes in game settings, Faust is encouraged by what his captains can do, as they’re an accomplished duo on the court. 

Buss and Gerken, a 6-foot southpaw, have played together for Eden Volleyball Club the last few years, and the last two summers, their Eden squad has competed in USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championships.

Another Falcon, 6-foot-3 junior middle Alex Boglev, plays club with Buss and Gerken. His upbeat manner makes the captains’ jobs easier, Gerken noted. 

“Bogs is a force in the middle,” Gerken said. “He’s just a happy guy, so he brings a lot of energy to the gym. He’s always bouncing around.”

Being on the national stage is certainly a testament to those Falcons’ high-caliber skill. The captains have demonstrated that ability for Frontier, too.

Gerken is in his third full varsity season, while Buss has the same amount of experience as a senior. 

Buss was moved to the outside this season by Faust to utilize his size and talent all over the court.

As a result, Buss is emerging as a premier all-around player, as he’s passing, hitting and serving at a higher rate than before. He made the all-tournament team at the 38th annual Eden Pan-Am Invitational Saturday (Sept. 12). The Falcons fared well as a team there, qualifying for the Gold division before losing in the quarterfinals to Eden. 

When Buss was a middle, it was a lot of blocking, some hitting, and little service and back-row action. Faust thinks Buss’ move to the outside can open up a potential that wasn’t before noticed. 

“With his physical abilities, he can definitely take over a match,” Faust said. “He’s working on his jump-serve and his hitting technique. It’s come very far, and now I think he needs to work on mental toughness — if it’s right, can he be the go-to guy? Can he go back and serve four or five points in a row?”

The position transition is made smoother, Buss said, when Gerken is running the offense because he’s really the only setter Buss has had in his career, club or school. And Gerken not only is expected to top the Falcons in assists, he’ll swing his left arm and chip in with kills, too. 

Together, Gerken and Buss form one of the area’s stronger 1-2 punches. 

“I just always know where he’s at and where he wants the ball,” Gerken said.

They’re now taking what they’ve learned in club, where they’re teamed with some of the area’s top guys, and passing it along to the Falcons who are counting on them. 

“There can be a team that has guys 4 feet tall, but they can play great defense,” Gerken said. “You just can’t underestimate anyone because they’ll come back and bite you.”

“You just have to play hard the whole time, no matter what’s thrown at you,” Buss said.

That’s what Faust likes to hear, and wants to see in action all season. 

“Physically they can do it,” the coach said. “The challenge for them is the six inches from ear to ear. They’re going to have to embrace the leadership. There’s a high roof for this team. I don’t think I could have said that last year. This year it’s different. We’re more experienced.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

Lake Shore girls volleyball looks to benefit from 2014’s trials
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Sunday, September 20, 2015

Last season was the introduction. This fall, it’s time for action. 

Brian Dziewa’s Lake Shore girls volleyball team lost three senior starters from 2014, but that’s also when he had one eye toward the future. Dziewa pulled three sophomores up and gave them all contributing roles. 

Now they’re juniors, ready to lead with the team’s pair of seniors — co-captains Melissa Heppel and Machala Andrews. 

And while those two are the only seniors, Dziewa isn’t concerned since he has those varsity-tested juniors, plus an influx of newcomers and a transfer on the 13-player, all-junior-and-senior roster. 

The junior veterans are co-captain Talia Wright, a libero, outside hitter Ariel Smith and middle Alexa Haberer. They each started in 2014, and Dziewa believes they and the seniors are ready to be a dependable core. 

Furthermore, Lake Shore has reserve talent that’s on a higher level than usual, Dziewa noted. 

“This is my fifth year as varsity coach and this is probably the most depth I’ve had,” he said. “I can plug players in if someone is having an off day. I have a lot more options. There’s more versatility amongst the group.”

Lake Shore struggled a year ago, so Dziewa hopes that was simply a byproduct of playing a considerable amount of youth, and that last season’s shortcomings won’t persist because the kinks have been worked out. 

“We took some more lumps last year because we introduced some sophomores,” Dziewa said. “We took some lumps last year, so now they’re going to know what to expect. They grew as last year went on. Hopefully, we’ll reap the benefits of a tough year. We’re looking to depend heavily on those three juniors and the two seniors.”

The Eagles play an ECIC II regular season before dropping to Class B-1 for the postseason. They’re a “scrappy team,” according to Dziewa, that will rarely allow an easy point. 

“Other teams are going to have to earn every point,” he said. “We’re not going to give them points by the missed serves or missed passes or miscommunication on our part.”

Andrews, the setter, and Heppel, who will start at weak side, provide the foundation for that approach.

Dziewa wants his players to have short memories and plenty of focus. Heppel and Andrews possess both, making them ideal leaders.

“Machala and Melissa are portraying the message of, ‘Stay positive, move onto the next point,’” Dziewa said. “Whatever happened the last point, you can’t change it, but you do have control over the next point. We just have to keep moving forward.”

“None of us get down on ourselves,” Andrews added. “We’re an up-and-ready-to-go team. We’re going to pick each other up on the court. If we’re down, we’re going to come right back up just by helping each other get through those couple down points.”

Junior Raeann White transfers in from Gowanda, and Dziewa said she’ll receive time at outside hitter.

Jordan Scholl, a junior, is a defensive specialist while fellow junior, Erika DeAngelis, is the setter behind Andrews who’ll “play quite a bit,” Dziewa said. 

Haberer is the key in the middle of Lake Shore’s court. Smith again will have a post at outside hitter, while Wright is a reliable libero. 

“Our returning sophomores, who are juniors now, are hitting the ball better than ever,” Andrews said.

Part of the positivity the seniors bring comes from not worrying about perception.

“A lot of people look at us as an underdog,” Andrews said. “They look at the schedule and say, ‘Oh, Lake Shore. We’ll win in three games.’ People better watch out, honestly. We’re going to show up and put up a tough fight this year.”

In an intrasquad scrimmage a couple weeks into practice, the tenacity Dziewa wants his team to compete with was evident to Heppel. That grew her optimism for 2015 even more. 

“We did a little scrimmage and it was amazing,” Heppel said. “It was the best I’ve seen the team play in a while, and it’s only the beginning of the season. I have high expectations, just by seeing us now.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

Reshuffled Eagles work to develop in 2015
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Saturday September 19, 2015

For the Lake Shore boys volleyball team in 2015, it’s about patience. 

To varsity assistant, and junior varsity head coach Bill Anderson, that’s the most logical choice at this juncture. 

Junior Devin Joslyn, who Anderson called the Eagles’ best player in 2014, transferred and is now thriving for Canisius. Two other guys coming up from JV were set to start, but they elected to fully commit to club swimming. 

That’s on top of losing a pair of strong seniors, Ty Becker and Mike Roach, from last fall’s Section VI Division II quarterfinalist squad that finished near the top of ECIC II during the regular season.

Those variables forced the Eagles to regroup a bit. 

Due to the departures — some foreknown, some unexpected — Lake Shore, coached by John Coyle, brought up two sophomores and a freshman, all who likely would have been on JV this season otherwise. 

Suddenly, Lake Shore is young and devoid of a lot of varsity experience. That’s why the attitude shifts to working hard every day and finding everyone’s fit on the court. 

Anderson hopes that by doing that, proper development will occur. 

“There are going to be a lot of growing pains, so it’s a matter of trying to progress throughout the year,” Anderson said. “Hopefully they do that, use that as a learning experience, and then compete by the time we get to sectionals. 

“It’s going to take patience. Right now that’s the game plan. It’s just one of those things where you see which moving parts work the best and it’s basically patience with an eye on development.”

Kyle Wishman is a senior who has set for the Eagles in the past, but he’ll be asked to do much more than that in 2015. He’s going to have to stand in as Mr. Everything with the largely unproven roster. 

Anderson said Wishman passes well and is a “solid all-around player.”

“His role is going to pick up,” Anderson said. “He’s going to do a lot of heavy lifting this year. He’s going to have to pass and play all around. He’s going to have to do a lot of the hitting, too. He’s going to earn his keep this year. Until somebody else develops, he will be, pretty much, the go-to guy if we need something.”

Wishman noted he’s aware this season is going to require a certain amount of patience, but that shouldn’t deter how hard the team pushes on the court.

“We have to have confidence,” Wishman said. “If you don’t have confidence you’re not going to do well. If you lose, you can’t get down. You just have to work hard and do your best. I’m excited to lead the team and try and do everything I can to try and make us win.”

Wishman’s brother, Cole Wishman, a freshman, steps into Kyle’s old spot as the setter. Sophomores Aaron Freeman and Owen Bitnun join Cole Wishman as newcomers, as they’ll each have a role.

“We basically lost the three to doing swimming or transfer, and that brought the sophomores and freshman up,” Anderson said.

Senior Nathan Ciciera is back, and Anderson noted he’ll be counted on to contribute more than last year. He’s a middle/front-row player. 

Junior Eric Senior was mainly a back-row player and server on varsity last fall, but he’ll see time all over in 2015. Juniors Tom Jaworski and Davis Glashauser are up from JV and are set to get minutes in the front row. 

While Lake Shore ushers in a host of first-year varsity players, they’re guys who have been exposed to the varsity team in the past — the JV and varsity have many joint practices. 

“They’re familiar with one another,” Anderson said. “Going through a lot of the basics, kind of figuring out what fits where, that hopefully happens early. But I think the eye is on just if we progress and improve every single day. If we do that, that’s a successful year for us.”

Kyle Wishman noted that the Eagles don’t have height, so it’s those basics — passing and serving — that will be emphasized. If those aspects are executed, the senior thinks that’ll lead to other areas being enhanced. 

“If those are where they need to be, our hitting and offense will be much better,” Kyle Wishman said. “… Win or lose, I’m hoping we just have a good team that plays with confidence.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

WKBW Super 7
#5 – Erica Bradley, Starpoint Girls Volleyball

By Nick Filipowski, WKBW
Friday, September 18, 2015



Powered Starpoint to a five set victory over Williamsville South with 13 kills, 16 blocks, and 28 on Sept. 11.

“Erica has played a key role in our program over the last three years. She is an all-around athlete that leads our team in varying areas of the game. Erica is an extremely hard-working, dedicated player and is always determined to accomplish goals she sets for herself and her team. She is a great role-model and a true leader for her teammates.” – Kristie Slack, Head Coach.

WKBW Super 7
#7 – Henry Payne, Clarence Boys Volleyball
By Nick Filipowski, WKBW
Friday, September 18, 2015


Smashed 41 kills to carry Clarence past Hamburg is five sets.

“He's our go-to guy. Every team knows we're going to "feed the beast," but no one has been able to shut him down.” - Kevin Starr, Head Coach.

IA volleyball embraces business trip to Florida
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Friday September 18, 2015

It was originally only supposed to be an every-other-year trip. 

In 2013, Kyle Shanley took his Immaculata Academy volleyball team to Walt Disney World for preseason training. But, going against the initial plan, the Bears made the same journey before last season was kicked into high gear. 

“The kids, the parents, they just want to keep going every year,” Shanley said. “And I’m not going to say no to Disney.”

Now, Immaculata participated in the KSA Events Volleyball Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Sept. 3-5, making it the third consecutive year the Bears received a preseason warm-up in that setting. It’s turning into an Immaculata volleyball custom. 

The team left a day before the tournament started, and departed Florida the day after the conclusion. They hit the parks during down time and stayed on Disney grounds. 

Shanley enjoys what’s turned into an annual trip because of the camaraderie that’s developed, and it aptly prepares the Bears for the competition they see throughout the fall. Fun and business: a welcomed combination to Shanley. 

“It’s a way for me to take my team to Florida and get them to bond a little bit before they get into the meat and potatoes of the season,” Shanley said. “It’s helped out immensely.”

Immaculata had ups and downs during the tournament, finishing 2-4, mostly playing public schools. The Bears faced many southern teams that were already in midseason form. It allowed IA to measure how far it’s come in a shorter time. 

“You’re going against teams that have been in season for 30, 40 days already,” Shanley said. “We were in season for eight, nine, 10 days. We played two teams out of New York that were in the same circumstance as us, and we played very well against them. We struggled with a few of the other teams because it was harder to get in rhythm with them. Otherwise, we did fairly well.”

Immaculata was stiffly tested down South, but that’s OK, because Shanley likes to dish out challenges.

That’s why three days after the Bears returned from Disney, they hosted a tri-match with Monsignor Martin Athletic Association power Nardin and Mercy, a volleyball giant out of Rochester. 

IA just played Mercy on Sept. 9, while Mercy made the trip worthwhile by taking on the two other teams. Shanley is friends with the two other coaches, and he’d like to make the tri-match an annual occurrence, he said. 

The Bears fell to Mercy in three games, and continued their tough schedule to start the season Sept. 12 at the St. Mary’s tournament, at which they went against Eden, Clarence and Grand Island in pool play. 

“A lot of the time you’re just throwing them into the fire and seeing how they respond,” Shanley said. “Then you know what you need to work on going forward. Hopefully my two leaders saw what we need to work on from (the tournaments) and the tri-match, and then go forward from there.”

The Bears’ two leaders are senior co-captains Emilee Chiavetta, an outside hitter, and Karly Kurkowiak, the libero.

They’re tasked with taking over the captaincy from Sarah Bain (Geneseo) and Hannah Boltz (Buffalo State), who are both in the college ranks now and led the Bears to a fourth-place regular-season finish in MMAA last fall. IA fell in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. 

“Both of them bring a lot of experience,” Shanley said of the new captains. “Karly moved to libero last year and she’s doing very well with it. Emilee brings just raw athleticism — one of the most athletic kids I have one the team, and she just has a passion and doesn’t want to fail, ever.”

Sophomore Erin Wright is a steady player at outside hitter for IA, while senior Maria Gelyon is the starting setter. Shanley expects them to be big contributors.

“We graduated a lot of leadership last year,” Shanley said. “I’m looking for people to step up and be that on-the-court leader that we lost. Once we have that, everything is going to fall into place. I feel like this team has a ton of potential. It’s just a matter of getting to that point.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

Raiders fall in semis of Eden Pan-Am Invitational
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Friday September 18, 2015

Moments after a hard-fought semifinal loss in his team’s own tournament, Eden boys volleyball coach Robert Pierce agreed with the notion that his Raiders experienced a semblance of a Déjà vu moment. 

Two prestigious area tournaments, two deep runs, but also two exits after promising starts in elimination games. 

Last month, Eden took the first game off Canisius in the finals of the Clarence tournament before the Crusaders rallied and won in three. 

This time, at the 38th annual Eden Pan-Am Invitational Saturday (Sept. 12) at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center in West Seneca, Eden was bounced in the semifinals by Rochester’s McQuaid Jesuit. 

The Raiders won the first game in thrilling fashion against the Knights, needing extra frames — just like they did versus Canisius at Clarence — to score a 30-28 victory. But Eden then ran out of gas, an identical case to the finals at Clarence. 

The Raiders lost the semifinal match, 30-28, 15-25, 10-15, after winning Pool A with a 6-0 mark and defeating Frontier in a three-game quarterfinal. 

Pierce said it was a matter of not holding up 100 percent mentally following a taxing, and impressive, first-game win in the semis. 

“You could just see that emotional, ‘Wow. That was amazing. Can I sustain this?’ And we couldn’t,” Pierce said. “We just got really emotionally tired and forgot what got us to that point, and that’s the fight. That’s mental fatigue, and that comes from physical fatigue, too. I pointed out a few guys that need to work a little harder.”

Pierce addressed that with his team in a post-match huddle, and noted the language wasn’t to embarrass the players. And he knows it didn’t because “they’re really tough kids” who Pierce holds in high regard. The coach thinks he has a team that can compete for a state championship this season. 

Outside hitter Declan Pierce and setter Cal Nowicki, both seniors, were named to the all-tournament team. Canisius won the finals in three games, as the tournament, played at the BNCC for the first time, featured premier teams from Western New York, Rochester, Albany and Syracuse, plus reps from several Division I colleges and top D-III schools. 

Through two tournaments, the Raiders have demonstrated they have sky-high potential. Now it’s a matter of not faltering in longer matches with significantly bigger teams like Canisius and McQuaid. 

Against McQuaid at the invitational, once Eden’s intensity let down a little, the Knights took advantage, because they had the resources to. They had several giants in the front row, as does Canisius. 

All but two players for Eden are less than 6 foot. That places a premium on hustle, physicality and focus. 

It also didn’t help that the Raiders didn’t score many points in the last two games on serves by Nowicki or Declan Pierce, who both unleash lasers from the back line. 

“The thing that was exposed twice now is we have to be more physical and mentally stronger than anybody we oppose in order for us to take a championship,” Pierce said. “We have to grind harder and believe that speed and power and mental fortitude is the answer.”

“We can’t take a mental break at all,” said the 5-foot-10 Declan Pierce, a 2014 All-WNY selection who is verbally committed to Penn State. “It’s just, ‘Play, play, play.’ If we fall off for a little bit, we’re done. You have to be mentally strong.”

Eden possesses high fliers and a fast-moving offense. That’s what has allowed it to go toe-to-toe with brilliant teams that have noticeable size advantages. 

The Raiders are replacing Hayden Herc and Shane Smith, two guys in the 6-foot-5 range. 

But they have a setter in Nowicki, who “can be magical at times,” Robert Pierce said, and a devastating hitter who can jump out of the gym in Declan Pierce. 

“We work so hard all year long,” said Nowicki, a second team All-WNY player a year ago. “Because we’re stronger than some of the huge guys, they’re not going to last a whole match like we can. They’re going to tire out.”

Collin Rigley, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, and senior Connor Basinski can finish off plays and score points, too. Junior Jesse Brockman and senior Ben Wrzesinski are the middles, while senior Mitch Mason and junior Josh Plarr rotate as Eden’s liberos. 

“We’re quicker (than last year), and speed can win a lot of things,” Robert Pierce said. “Some of those guys (on McQuaid’s team) are some of the better volleyball players in their age group around the country. Same with Canisius. And my little guys are out there ripping it up.”

Most programs would be satisfied with taking a game from each of Canisius and McQuaid, two Catholic powerhouses, showing off their own prowess in the process. 

Not Eden, which hasn’t lost a division title “in about 14 years,” according to Robert Pierce.

It was clear, some of the players’ sour faces while they watched the championship as evidence, that the Raiders felt they should have had a second go at Canisius in Saturday’s finals.

With Robert Pierce’s expectations soaring, his team is taking on the right mentality, striving to get there. 

As of press time, Robert Pierce said that the Raiders and McQuaid were the only squads to take a game off the Crusaders in 2015; a notable accomplishment, but Eden wants more. 

“Do we want to say we’re the only team to take a game off (Canisius), or a game off McQuaid? No,” Robert Pierce said. “That’s not enough for us. We’re there. We just have to be extra crisp. My hope is we go back into the gym and work on the little things and the mental strength a little more.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

Iroquois girls volleyball caps week by placing second at Cheektowaga tournament
East Aurora Bee
Thursday, September 17, 2015

MAKING THE SAVE — East Aurora’s Rose Martin smashes the ball over her head and back toward the net during the lady Blue Devils’ 3-0 loss at Maryvale Monday. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos atwww.BeeNews.com

Iroquois’ girls volleyball team opened its season Sept. 8 with a home loss to Starpoint, but not without giving the Lady Spartans just about all they could handle.

The Lady Chiefs fell behind two games to none, but so far this season, according to coach Mark Dubel, his team has shown that “they never give up within a game or within a match.”

The Lady Chiefs came back and took the next two games by scores of 25-20 to tie the match, with was Starpoint’s second match of the season and Iroquois’ first.

“[The Starpoint game] showed that we still had a couple of things to work out in our defensive coverage, as well as game-speed timing with the hitters and setter,” said Dubel. “They’re a team that we always play very closely and so we were expecting a tough game.”

Iroquois followed that contest up with a road loss to Lake Shore two days later. The Lady Chiefs went in and played much better in the first game, according to Dubel, doing a better job passing and running the offense. However, Lake Shore slowed the pace of the game and took Iroquois out of its rhythm in the later games.

“They weren’t a power hitting team but they consistently passed our serves and hits,” Dubel said. “They beat us with good defensive play and well placed hits around our defense.”

Despite two early division losses, the Lady Chiefs are still confident that the have personnel to win games this season, but the team still had some improvements to make, especially in passing and defensive coverage of both hitters and blocks.

“We were losing a lot of points on short, tipped balls getting past our front row players,” said Dubel.

On Saturday, Iroquois travelled to the annual Cheektowaga Warriors Tournament where the team made a few small changes in the lineup that helped the Lady Chiefs play more consistently and avoid the ups and downs they had experienced in the first two matches.

Iroquois responded to the changes by going 8-0 in pool play, taking two games each against Nichols, Southwestern, West Seneca West and Lewiston-Porter to finish first in the team’s pool. Iroquois played several close games and, on multiple occasions had to rally or go to extra points to get those wins, if not both.

“Throughout pool play, the girls showed an ability to work their way back into games where they had to come from behind,” Dubel said. “They never let up and not only believed that they were still in it but made the clutch plays to keep themselves in it.”

In the one-game semifinal match to 30, Iroquois played a talented Jamestown team and had to make a late comeback to win the match, 32-30. In the finals, Iroquois faced Southwestern, a team they had beat earlier in the day in the day by 28-26 and 25-23 scores. This time around, Southwestern’s defensive specialist and back row players covered the back court extremely well and picked up nearly all the Lady Chiefs’ hits.

“When we played them early in the day it was their first match and our second and they were both really close games but they were playing even stronger as the day progressed,” said Dubel. “They had two really strong outside hitters so our defense never got a break.”

According to Dubel, Southwestern was also serving well and Iroquois had a hard time returning its serves, which allowed Southwestern to string together several multi-point runs and stretch its lead with each serve possession, leading to a 25-10 win in the first game of the best-of-three finals.

Iroquois hitters Marissa Parker, Liz Cej, Leah Krezemien, Taylor Mossman, Elena Grossman and Michaela Hoeflich were hitting and playing well, according to Dubel, but he noted that “it seemed that Southwestern was always there with a solid defensive play to keep the ball up.”

Iroquois rallied in the second game to win, 25-23, based largely in the play of defensive specialist Missy Geil. Anne Feneziani and Regg Skowron also made several big digs to keep Iroquois in the match, while setter Marina Caparaso got the ball to the hitters.

Parker, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, put away numerous kills.

“Missy kept us in the all of the matches throughout the day with outstanding play in the back row, as we faced some of the hardest hits we had seen this season,” said Dubel.

Ultimately, the combination of Southwestern’s outside hitters and its defensive coverage proved too much for the Lady Chiefs, as they lost the third game, 25-14, to take second overall in the 10-team tournament.

It was the team’s best finish in six years.

Iroquois returned to action Monday by hosting Buffalo Traditional, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Lady Chiefs close out their week by traveling to Williamsville East Friday.

Lockport downs St. Francis 3-1
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sean Denniston posted 48 assists and Marc Bixby added 35 assists as the Lockport boys varsity volleyball team earned a four-set, non-league victory Wednesday over visiting St. Francis.

Maryvale girls volleyball snaps four-year losing streak to Depew
Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, September 17, 2015

Maryvale’s Emily Raczynski bumps the ball to a teammate off an East Aurora serve during the
Lady Flyers’ 3-0 victory Monday. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Depew’s girls volleyball team has had Maryvale’s number for the past four seasons, but Friday was a different story after the Lady Flyers not only took a game from the Lady Wildcats for the first time in that long, but took the match from them as well, 25-12, 25-15, 25-12.

Senior co-captain Michelle Richardson has 12 assists to help guide the team’s efforts, while fellow senior co-captain Brianna Henry had five kills and five service aces. Junior Jaelah George had three kills and three service aces.

“We knew the Depew game was going to be the game where we where going to find out what type of team we really are this year,” coach Tina Raczynski said. “Depew always sets the standard high in our league, so to be able to defeat them in their gym was a huge victory for us. This game fortified what I had been telling the girls for weeks: That if they continue to play their game at their best and every person on the court gives 110 percent, then they will be successful and they were going to win games.

“Our confidence is high right now but we have a long way to go this season as we take it one game at a time.”

Maryvale used the momentum from that historic victory to extend its season-opening winning streak to three matches Monday with its 25-6, 25-18, 25-10 conquest of East Aurora. As a team, the Lady Flyers finished the night with 25 kills and 17 service aces.

Individually, Henry led the way with 11 kills, while sophomore co-captain Julia Carter chipped in with eight kills and four aces. Junior Emily Raczynski scored nine service points in the third game to help Maryvale push through and finish the match.

Maryvale kicked off its season back on Sept. 8 with a 25-10, 25-18, 25-18 victory over Pioneer. With coach Raczynski admitting that “we weren’t sure what to expect in this game,” Maryvale put to rest any slivers of doubt with a demonstrated sense of determination that “set the tone of this match” as the Lady Flyers collectively took their game play up a notch by coming out strong and maintaining that level of effort.

Carter led the way with six kills, four blocks and four aces, while senior co-captain Shannon Mowry added five kills. Richardson dished out 12 assists for the Lady Flyers.

“We had been cautiously optimistic during the preseason as to how we were anticipating how the season was going to go,” coach Raczynski said. “With some of the girls playing travel and the effort on the offseason that the other girls put in, we were excited for this year. They have really come to into their own this season. We are taking the season match by match and we are excited for things to come.”

The Lady Flyers (3-0 overall) returned to action Wednesday against crosstown rival JFK, but results from that contest were not available at press time.

Maryvale will close out its week by seeking to defend its title at Saturday’s annual Cleveland Hill Tournament before hosting Amherst on Tuesday.

“We need to keep doing what we are currently doing, which is playing strong offensively and def ensively,” Raczynski said. “We need to be confident in our skills and what we can achieve.”

(Reporter Jason Nadolinski contributed to this article.)

High School Extra (Sept. 17): Canisius Va.-bound
Buffalo News
Thursday, September 17, 2015

Canisius Va.-bound

Canisius (9-0), a unanimous No. 1 pick in this week’s Western New York boys volleyball poll, opened its Monsignor Martin Association schedule with a three-set sweep at St. Mary’s of Lancaster.

It was a good test for the Crusaders before they head to the Endless Summer Tournament in Virginia Beach, Va., on Saturday.

“It’s always hard to go there and play,” Canisius coach Tom Weislo said of playing at St. Mary’s. “Their kids work hard and the home crowd always really supports them and gives them lots of energy.”

Chas Palka and Devin Josyln had 11 kills each and Charley Desmond had 32 assists for Canisius.

Roller coaster start for South
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 16, 2015

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster start to the 2015 season for the Williamsville South girls volleyball team.

The Lady Billies opened their season with a five-set non-league 23-25, 23-25, 25-13, 25-19, 25-18 win over Niagara-Wheatfield Sept. 4, beat Sweet Home — last year’s Class A section finalist — 25-22, 25-23, 25-20 Sept. 8, lost to Starpoint, 23-25, 25-15, 19-25, 25-23, 23-25, and then lost to Orchard Park 30-18 in the quarterfinals of the Sweet Home Tournament Saturday.

“We got some young players in the mix,” South coach Tom Sproull said. “We have some veterans who have a high standard. I feel like we can lose or win against anybody. We are making too many unforced errors and our serving is not at 90 percent like it was last year.”

Melissa Postek — named to the All-Tournament Team at the Sweet Home Tournament — recorded 14 kills and 10 digs against Sweet Home and Brianna Neeley has led the team in blocks. Anna Hoffman leads the defense in digs and Kelsey Stasiak (16 assists versus Sweet Home) and Jenna Wild (9 assists versus Sweet Home) are progressing as setters. Sproull said Grace Stahl has also been hitting the ball well from the outside and not making many hitting errors and Wild set well at the Sweet Home Tournament.

Sweet Home

At its host tournament, the Lady Panthers went undefeated in pool play, defeating Kenmore West, Olmsted and Gowanda, and then lost to Sacred Heart, 30-28, in the quarterfinals.

“We played well, much better than we have been playing,” Sweet Home coach Breean Martin said. “We need to work on the tentativeness from our younger players. We have three sophomores as well as a couple veterans, so they are still getting used to the level of play.”

Senior Rachel Reusch was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Sweet Home was coming off a 25-17, 25-13, 25-20 win over West Seneca East Thursday. Claire Hiwiller recorded 25 assists, six digs and three aces. Reusch recorded 16 kills, three blocks, seven digs and three aces.

Unforced errors plagued Sweet Home in their three-set loss at Williamsville South Sept. 8.

“We couldn’t do anything right,” Martin said. “We kept giving them points. It was not a good way to open the season. I think some of it was nerves and the younger girls not getting that pace yet.”

High School Extra (Sept. 16): Lancaster volleyball gets tough win
Buffalo News
Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tough win for Lancaster

Lancaster, ranked No. 3 among large schools in the latest WNY Coaches boys volleyball poll, had to gut out a five-set ECIC I match at Frontier Tuesday night to stay undefeated in division play.

The Legends won the fifth set, 30-28, to pull out a 3-2 victory before a good crowd at Frontier.

“The home crowd definitely helped,” said Lancaster coach Jason Stang. “Frontier always seems to get out a nice crowd to help their team.”

Jay Bauman had 20 kills and Alex Kostek had 52 assists in the victory.

“All the games were close, even the ones where the final score doesn’t look close,” Stang said.

Lancaster led 23-17 in the fifth set only to see the Falcons rally to tie it at 23.

“We had trouble with their serves but we had some key blocks late in the last set that might have been the difference,” said Stang, whose team’s only loss was to Canisius in tournament play.

East girls volleyball finishes third at St. Mary’s Tourney
Amherst Bee
Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Williamsville East girls volleyball team finished third at the St. Mary’s Tournament Saturday, falling to St. Mary’s in the semifinals, 21-25, 26-24, 13-15.

The strong field included defending state champions St. Mary’s, defending state champions Eden, defending Class AA Section VI champions Clarence and defending Class AA regional champions Penfield.

“We have been really consistent in our play,” East coach Scott Wright said. “Our defense has been really good, which has allowed us to handle teams in big situations.”

East went undefeated in morning pool play with wins over Lancaster, 25-21, 25-15; and Nardin, 25-12, 25-9, and then beat Grand Island, 25-12, 25-12, in the quarterfinals.

Lexi Novak (9 kills), Carly Shifflet (6 kills), Rachel Steffan (6 kills) and Makayla Greenfield (23 assists, 3 kills) led the offense against Grand Island.

Sam Mendelsohn, who was unavailable for morning pool play, led the defense with 14 digs.

Major contributors for East throughout the tournament were Shifflet (51 kills, 52 digs, 6 blocks); Novak (41 kills, 44 digs, 9 aces, 7 blocks); Mendelsohn (37 digs); Greenfield (108 assists, 38 digs, 8 aces, 6 kills); Steffan (13 kills, 23 digs) and Leah Orsini (8 kills, 6 blocks).

The Lady Flames opened the 2015 season with a 25-7, 25-12, 25-12 home win over Lake Shore Sept. 8.

East built a 19-3 lead in the first set, trailed 3-1 in the second set before winning 20 of the next 23 points to build a 21-6 lead, and trailed 8-6 in the third set before they went on a 12-2 run.

Shifflet (12 kills) and Novak (8 kills) led the offense while Mendelsohn led the defense with 22 digs. Greenfield recorded 17 assists and five digs, and junior setter Julianna Benz added seven assists.

East improved to 2-0 with a 25-22, 25-18, 25-11 home victory over Hamburg Thursday.

Shifflet (20 kills, 14 digs) and Novak (19 kills, 9 digs, 2 aces) paced the offense.

The Lady Flames also got a strong performance from Greenfield, who recorded 44 assists and 15 digs.

Mendelsohn (19 digs, 2 aces), Steffan (5 kills, 5 assists), sophomore Allison Jozwiak (kill, 7 digs), Orsini (2 kills) and Benz (9 digs) also contributed.

East hosted West Seneca East Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. East hosts Iroquois Friday.

Clarence Boys volleyball preps for Eden Tourney by winning marathon with Hamburg
Clarance Bee
Tuesday September 15, 2015

Clarence’s boys volleyball team knew it had to respond victoriously in its match with Hamburg Thursday after the Red Devils were stymied in a five-game marathon with league foe Orchard Park last week — by just two points in the decisive fifth game — since, as coach Kevin Starr put it, “winning or losing in a fifth game can carry over into the next contest.”

Fortunately for the Red Devils, the negative overtones of falling just short against Orchard Park didn’t prevent them from triumphing over the Bulldogs, though it once again took five games — including a nailbiter of a fifth game — to determine the victor. In the end, Clarence had just enough in its reserves to pull out the 28-26, 23-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-22 win.

“When we lost to Orchard Park, we knew that we’d have to respond under pressure in every league match — and this was another typical ECIC I battle,” Starr said. “Coming away with the win in five games against Hamburg was a real confidence builder.” 

Junior Henry Payne maintained his torrid kill percentage by recording 41 kills in 79 attempts, which moved his kill percentage for the year to .514 despite Starr acknowledging that teams are doing their best to slow him down. Senior setter Dalton Squires, who Starr said “moves the ball around just enough to keep our opponents off balance,” had 56 assists on the night.

Senior Ben Janzow added 13 kills for Clarence, while eighth-grader Teddy Payne had another strong night with 11 digs and eight points serving.

Clarence then went on to reach the bronze flight’s championship game at Eden’s annual tournament, held Saturday at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center. The Red Devils, who found themselves playing in the toughest pool with defending Section VI Class A champ Lancaster, defending Section V Class A champion McQuaid and perennial Section V powerhouse Fairport, split with Lancaster but was swept by the Rochester-based teams.

Once in the bronze flight, Clarence’s path to the title included victories over Orchard Park (25-20) and Hamburg (25-22).

Henry Payne had 61 kills in 123 swings, even though he faced double and often triple blocks all day. Junior Tyler White “keeps improving,” according to Starr, who said White “locked down a starting spot with some very consistent play.” White, at just 5-feet-9, is hitting .420 and is serving at a 94-percent efficiency rate.

“Teams can’t ignore Tyler, who, along with Ben Janzow and junior middle hitter Jake Ireland, gives Dalton other options so that teams can’t focus totally on Henry,” Starr said. “We’re improving our blocking and serving, which have been our two main weaknesses.”

Clarence returned to action Tuesday at Williamsville North, but information about that match was not available at press time. The Red Devils host Williamsville East this afternoon and then have a few days to work on things in practice before returning to the court Monday at Lancaster.

Western New York 2015 Boys Top 10 Poll - 9/15/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS
1. Canisius (12) 120
2. Eden 108
3. Lancaster 91
4. Frontier 80
5. West Seneca West 59
6. Clarence 58
7. Orchard Park 57
8. Hamburg 48
9. St. Joe's 18
10. Lockport 9


Western New York 2015 Girls Top 10 Poll - 9/15/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Williamsville East (5) 86
2. Clarence (4) 85
3. Lancaster 60
4. Orchard Park 53
5. Niagara Wheatfield 52
6. Hamburg 32
7. Grand Island 31
8. Sweet Home 28
9. Frontier 25
10. Williamsville South 15
Also receiving votes: Kenmore West, Starpoint, Iroquois, Williamsville North and North Tonawanda.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60
2. Eden 54
3. Portville 43
4. Nardin 40
5. City Honors 35
6. Albion 33
7. Randolph 32
8. North Collins 20
9. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 18
T-10. Mt. St. Mary's 10
T-10. Chautauqua Lake 10
Also receiving votes: Southwestern, Silver Creek, Immaculata and Gowanda.

OP volleyball girls win at Lancaster
Buffalo News
Tuesday September 15, 2015

Senior Theresa Gossel and a couple of sophomores, Sadie Jova and Liz Chow, helped Orchard Park (3-0 ECIC I) to an impressive league girls volleyball road victory at Lancaster. The Quakers fell behind 0-2 but won the last three sets including the final, 25-20.

"We are only three games in and it's kind of a tight year in our league", said Orchard Park coach Craig Lardo. "There are a lot of evenly matched teams. We could easily be one-two in Lancaster could be 3-0."

Gossel had 12 digs for the Quakers while Jova had 22 kills and Chow 35 assists in a five-set victory over the Legends.

Bulldogs anxious to get back to title game
By: Aaron Garland, Hamburg Sun Sports reporter
Tuesday September 15, 2015 

Since its first-ever sectional title in 2009, the Hamburg girls volleyball team has gotten used to high expectation. And it grew especially tall when the Bulldogs followed up with Section VI Class A crowns in 2010 and 2012. 

In terms of championships, Hamburg has come up empty since, but it’s always in the mix. 

That shouldn’t be any different in 2015. 

The Bulldogs graduated three players who are now competing at the college level, including Taylor Hite, who is at Division I La Salle, but Hamburg is an established program with a constant cycle of able players. That leads to always-present hype. 

Hamburg has four seniors, and they’re all captains. 

But it also will trot out four sophomores and a freshman, although two from the former group received plenty of varsity minutes in 2014. 

There’s also the fact that the Bulldogs, from the varsity on down to modified, preach the expectation to perform and compete at a high level. That’s reflected in the results. 

So, yes, Hamburg has a decent amount of young faces to blend with the older ones. But that doesn’t mean the Bulldogs aren’t striving to end their championship drought. It’s nearing three calendar years, which qualifies as at least a little surprising, given how high Hamburg has set the bar. 

“We hold the girls to extremely high standards on and off the court,” Bulldogs coach John Crangle said. “They know that, and they look forward to meeting that. If a day comes where I don’t expect us to compete for a sectional title, then there is something wrong. We didn’t get back last year. The girls have a sour taste in their mouths, and they know what they need to do to get back to that point.”

Lara McCormick, the senior setter, got a taste of glory when she was on the 2012 sectional title-winning squad as a freshman. Since, she’s been part of semifinal (’13) and quarterfinal (’14) exits. McCormick, a co-captain fully aware of Hamburg’s potential, is eager for redemption.

“We want another championship really badly,” she said. “We’ve had some tough years the last two seasons. We’ve been cut out sooner than we wanted to, but this year I think we’re ready to go all the way.”

Hamburg, which has an ECIC I regular-season schedule, is known for riding the strength of its defense to success. 

“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Crangle said.

The coach added his team will again bring tenacity while defending. What’s unusual about the makeup of the 2015 Bulldogs, though, is the size. 

There’s a lot of it. 

The Seider sisters, senior co-captain Katie and sophomore newcomer Meg, are the sources for much of the augmented height. They’ll play side-by-side as the starting middles.

Junior Isabella Hubert is another tall player, and she’ll be at right side. 

“When you have size like that and a passion for the game, you’re going to utilize that,” Crangle said. “Between those three girls, they put up a pretty good wall in the front row.”

The Bulldogs are now enabled to be more flexible with its tactics, and Crangle estimates they’ll conserve energy, too. 

“Having that size gives you that added dimension offensively and defensively,” Crangle said. “We’re hoping we’ll be able to outperform our opposition from the 10-foot line to the 10-foot line, along the net.

“It’s something that hopefully will give our defense a spell, in the sense that we won’t be running ragged. Our front row will be able to contribute defensively more than maybe teams of the past.”

Crangle noted the Bulldogs are certainly capable of making plays outside of their towering athletes, too. After all, several of players have been doing so for years. 

Senior co-captain Maddie Shafer is a third-year starter, as she’s locked in as the team’s libero. She’s “rock-solid,” Crangle said. McCormick is setting for a fourth straight fall.

“Lara is our key communicator, and if she doesn’t have the passion and the expectations, then the team isn’t going to buy into it,” Crangle said.

Sophomores Eleanor Clarke (outside hitter/right side) and Kailee Herbst (outside hitter) both received lots of time as freshmen, and they’re expected to get even more this season. 

Senior Stephanie Ciesla is a co-captain and third-year veteran who’ll contribute as an outside hitter. 

Emma Moscato is the freshman defensive specialist. She plays more maturely than most players her age, according to Crangle. 

Crangle stresses his players be “complete packages,” and proof that they are is Hamburg’s holding of the highest GPA among Section VI volleyball schools in 2014. That, plus the results in the gym, is evidence of the Bulldogs’ collective meeting of an expectation. 

“The wins and losses just come naturally,” Crangle said. “If we prepare ourselves, we enjoy playing, we have a passion for the game and we have a commitment to one another, then the rest kind of comes along. We’re really excited for the season, and if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be here working the way that we have been.”


Hamburg is hosting a Southtowns girls volleyball tournament Oct. 23, right before the postseason, that’ll have a six-team format: the Bulldogs, Frontier, Lake Shore, West Seneca East, West Seneca West and Orchard Park. 

It’s the first time Hamburg is holding an event of this kind, and it’ll feature several food trucks. 

“We’re hoping for it to be a huge event,” Crangle said. “It’ll be darn good volleyball, too.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

High School Extra (Sept. 13): A volleyball thriller
Buffalo News
Saturday, September 12, 2015


Canisius’ Charles Palka unleashes a spike against McQuaid during the finals of the Eden Pan Am
boys volleyball tournament at Buffalo Niagara Center Court. Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

Thrilling volleyball final

Canisius defeated McQuaid (Rochester), 26-24, 23-25, 15-11, to capture the 38th annual Eden Pan Am boys volleyball tournament on Saturday. Canisius had defeated Fairport while McQuaid downed Eden in the semifinal round of the event.

The All-Tournament Team consisted of Charlie Desmond, Griffin Schmit (MVP) and Devin Joslyn of Canisius, Matt Buss of Frontier, Spencer Wickens and Erik Johnsson of McQuaid, Cal Nowicki and Declan Pierce of Eden, Chad Riordan of Fairport and Jack Bittker of Penfield.

Busy day for spikes

In girls volleyball, Niagara Wheatfield was the champion of the Sweet Home Invitational. The Falcons defeated Orchard Park in straight sets in the best-of-three final. In the silver division final, Gowanda defeated Chautauqua Lake in straight sets. Kalie Sonnenberg of Niagara Wheatfield was named the Tournament’s MVP.

In the Cheektowaga tournament, Southwestern swept Iroquois in straight sets to capture the championship. In the one-game semifinals, Southwestern beat Lake Shore while Iroquois edged Jamestown.

St. Mary’s rallied in the second game to finish a sweep of Penfield and capture the St. Mary’s Invitational. The Lancers, who beat Williamsville East in the semifinals, were led by Alyssa Zirnheld’s 11 kills and 12 digs.

St. Francis focuses in on ending Canisius’ run of dominance
By: Aaron Garland, Hamburg Sun Sports reporter
Saturday September 12, 2015

Contributed photo The St. Francis High Red Raiders
went just 6-16 (4-4 MMAA) last season.

The last time St. Francis volleyball coach Andy Lanigan had a team populated with veteran leadership and varsity service, in 2012, the Red Raiders ended up in the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association finals. 

However, Canisius won the title that year — a feat it’s pulled of every season this millennium. The Crusaders have stranglehold on the MMAA, with 15 consecutive league crowns. 

The last team not named Canisius to win a championship? The 1999 Red Raiders, a squad Lanigan was a sophomore on. 

“Nobody in this program has beaten Canisius in volleyball,” Lanigan said of the current crop of players.

Of course, the same could be said about many programs. Canisius is constantly the target in the MMAA, and Lanigan feels that this fall he has a group that can challenge the beast. 

All but one player returns from 2014, including each starter, while St. Francis’ 2012 finalist had four holdovers from the previous fall. 

The Red Raiders went just 6-16 (4-4 MMAA) last season, but with everyone a year more mature, a year more seasoned, Lanigan is intrigued by the prospects.

“The last time I was this excited for a season was 2012, when I had four guys coming back,” Lanigan said. “You multiply that by three — I have 12 or 13 guys coming back. And they didn’t just sit the bench. They were out there and you can tell the difference now.

“How could I not be excited? But they can’t just come in and turn it on because I talk a big game for us. They need to back it up.”

Because just about everyone on the 14-player roster, which features seven seniors and seven juniors, has been on varsity before, that “big game” means trying to slay Canisius. 

“My expectation every year is to end ‘the streak,’ in reference to Canisius’ run of Monsignor Martin titles,” Lanigan said. “I’m not trying to give bulletin-board material to any Monsignor Martin team, but we feel, as a program, that we could be the team this year to take them down. And we should be the team. We want to be prideful in saying it was us. And why not us? That’s the mentality that we have.”

It’s a message that’s being clearly received by the Red Raiders. 

“Words can’t describe how much we want to beat them,” junior outside hitter Cody Smith said. “I don’t think they’re going to make 16 straight this year. We all want to beat Canisius and end ‘the streak.’ We’re focusing on that.”

The 6-foot-5 Smith is a breakout candidate for St. Francis. He was good last season, but Lanigan said he’s been building Smith up to really be a driving force of this team.

“He has quick arm speed and is an emotional player — energetic, intense,” Lanigan said of Smith, who can also fill in as a right side and middle, if need be. “Our team feeds off that. He should be one of the better players in our league, if not Western New York.”

Lanigan feels there’s actually a ton of All-WNY potential in the gym — the Red Raiders just need to start winning big matches in order to be recognized. They haven’t done much of that recently, but he’s hopeful that’ll change in 2015. 

Senior Brandon Schweickert is a fourth-year varsity guy, and this is his second fall as the starting setter. The other outside hitter, senior Jake Kaempf, was an All-Catholic second-team performer as a libero in 2014. But he’s grown and Lanigan wants to give him more swings. 

Junior Sean Taggart, who was also an All-Catholic second-teamer, enters his third season on the team. He’ll start at right side. Junior Connor Cummings also returns, and he’ll take over as the libero. 

Nick Batchev, a senior who’s been on varsity since freshman year, is St. Francis’ go-to middle. 

Senior Brett Dobinski and juniors Tom Hayes and C.J. Luksch are defensive specialists who will be rotated in. 

“It’s exciting because we’re the same group of guys that became really close last year, and just coming back as a team I think we’re going to do better,” Kaempf said. “We just need to focus on our main goal, which is win. It all starts in practice. We work from there and see where it takes us.”

St. Francis hopes that’s to the top of the five-team MMAA. 

“We want to be the team that finally stops (Canisius’) dynasty,” Lanigan said. “I think every team has that same mentality. 

“When today’s juniors came in as freshmen, we knew the type of talent that class had, and we knew the talent that was already there in what is now the senior class. We’ve been building up toward this moment.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

WKBW Super 7
#6 - Melissa Postek, Williamsville South Volleyball

By Nick Filipowski, WKBW
Friday, September 11, 2015



Tallied 21 Kills as South rallied to a 3-2 win over Niagara-Wheatfield.

“We leaned on Melissa for the comeback again NW and she delivered.” – Tom Sproull, Williamsville South Head Coach.

Schneider's 12 kills not enough for volleyball Lions
HS ROUNDUP: Seeley's Lakewomen spikers beat visiting Lew-Port in four.

STAFF REPORTS, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Friday, September 11, 2015

The Lockport boys varsity volleyball team dropped a four-set match to visiting Orchard Park on Thursday in a non-league contest.

The scores were 25-17, 27-29, 25-23 and 25-16.

Several LHS spikers turned in solid opening day performances for head coach Liz Smorol’s Lions (0-1).

Mark Bixby posted five kills and added 22 assists. Zach Schneider had a dozen kills and six digs; and Jesse Donorovich added eight kills for the host Lions.

Also for Lockport, Treston White recorded 10 kills with five blocks, while setter Sean Denniston posted 37 assists and senior Magnus Cleveland added six digs.

Next up for Lockport is its 2015 Niagara Frontier League opener at 6:15 p.m. Monday against Grand Island.


Wilson 3, Lew-Port 2

WILSON — Head coach Amy Seeley’s Lakewomen improved to 1-1 on the season with a non-league win on Thursday over the visiting Lady Lancers.

North Collins volleyball out to grow reputation this season
By: Aaron Garland, Hamburg Sun Sports reporter
Friday September 11, 2015

For years at North Collins, the fall sports season’s popularity was driven by soccer. 

But lately, girls volleyball has made a push to join soccer as a well-off program with high participation. 

It culminated to the NC girls volleyball team winning the Section VI Class D-2 championship last fall, the Eagles’ first title since 1987. It was a revealing sign of progress. 

“Instead of, ‘North Collins: it’s a soccer school that happens to play volleyball,’ we’re trying to make that turn and show that we’re a soccer and volleyball school,” Burgstahler said. “And now people are starting to give us some notice. We made a name for ourselves.”

The next step, 11th-year Eagles coach Dave Burgstahler noted, is sustainment. While last season assured North Collins that it’s a growing program, Burgstahler said it’s imperative the team withstands the assiduousness it took to capture the title in order to prevent a drop-off this fall. 

“Like I keep saying to them, ‘Have pride in it, heads held up high, but we have to show it again this year,’” Burgstahler said. “We can say we’re good all we want but we have to perform. We can’t just ride the coattails of last year. I’m hoping the pieces of the puzzle are there. We just have to make it happen.”

North Collins graduated two middle hitters, but the rest of the core is back. The tri-captaincy of senior Jasmine Filkov, junior Angela Filkov and sophomore Morgan Mathis leads the squad. 

Jasmine Filkov, who’s been up since eighth grade, is an outside hitter with a passing percentage in the upper 90s, according to Burgstahler. Her versatility positively impacts the whole court. 

“When you have somebody who can pass the ball consistently well, you’re going to be successful,” Burgstahler said. “She does everything on the court that we need her to do — hitting, defense and passing.”

Angela Filkov has been the setter for several seasons, and she’s beginning to widen her arsenal with the incorporation of more set variations. Mathis, a third-year player, is an outside hitter with a “great arm swing,” the coach noted.

The Eagles are focused on expanding on what they accomplished a fall ago, when they lost in the overall Class D final after being crowned as the queens of D-2. 

“It makes us want to come back and shoot for a (sectional championship) again, and then try to go to states,” Angela Filkov said. “We want to surpass where we went last year.”

“It would feel so good to do that again,” Mathis said. “It’s a lot easier when you have the same people. We all know how to work together.”

Rose Filkov, a freshman who plays year-round, adds to the roster continuity as she was around last fall and will serve as the libero in 2015. Sophomore Courtney Wilson is a right side who can help in other areas, too. 

“She does it all,” Burgstahler said of Wilson.

Wilson’s sister, Deanne, is also flexible in terms of where she plays on the court, but her primary position is outside hitter. Her fundamentals warranted a call to the big leagues, Burgstahler said. 

Senior Kim Gick is a hard-working middle while freshman Baylee Romano, sophomore Isabella Wroblewski and junior Emma Dosser are middles, as well.

“We’re not a tall team, so we have to rely on our tenacity — going after the ball and never giving up on it,” Burgstahler said. “Those secondhand plays where a pass breaks down, a set breaks down, and we stick with it. We’re not a huge blocking team but our back-row defense is great.”

“We’re sweating a lot, so that’s a good sign,” Jasmine Filkov said. “… We’re quick on offense and defense. Just our energy helps us win.”

As for their method of scoring points, Burgstahler noted the Eagles thrive on accuracy over power on hits. NC can bombard opponents with its crowd of effective servers, as well.

Jasmine and Angela Filkov, Courtney and Deanne Wilson and Mathis all have the ability to serve well. 

“Although we might not be 6-foot bomb hitters, we’ve worked a lot on placement,” Burgstahler said. “Maybe we can’t hit as hard, but can we put the ball where we want it when we need it to be there. It’s a constant development, but that’s something we utilized last year.”

And repeating last year would be seen as a success to Burgstahler. 

“We have to have confidence but at the same time you have to let your actions speak,” Burgstahler said. “For the most part they’re doing that. But it’s early. They have to keep it going.”

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

North girls volleyball wins season opener
Amherst Bee
Wednesday September 9, 2015

Despite three starters out of the lineup, Williamsville North’s girls volleyball team downed Grand Island in its season opener, 21-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-18, at home Thursday.

“We were pleased with how we played despite missing a few starters although we did give up large runs in each game,” North coach Keith Hopkins said.

Senior outside hitter Elise Hopkins (18 kills, 12 digs), junior middle hitter Morgan Simon (6 kills) and senior outside hitter Lauren Curtis (4 kills, injured midway through game three) paced the offense.

In her varsity debut at setter, freshman Abby Vincent recorded 32 assists.

Coach Keith Hopkins noted the play of senior defensive specialist Laura Saturnino, junior libero Cassandra Rosen and freshman Bri Brown, who started at right side and was moved to left side after Curtis got injured. Rosen and Brown made their varsity debuts.

North opened ECIC I play at Lancaster Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Jamestown Friday.

Clarence volleyball sweeps Panthers
Clarence Bee
Wednesday September 9, 2015

Clarence’s boys volleyball team had trouble shutting down Orchard Park’s top player when the squads met Thursday, which was just one of the reasons why the Quakers were able to walk away from the match with a hard-fought 24-26, 25-13, 19-25, 25-13, 25-23 victory over the Red Devils in what coach Kevin Starr called “the match to set the tone for the ECIC I season.”

Junior outside hitter Henry Payne, who is currently hitting .528 for the season, had 32 kills in 63 attempts, but it wasn’t enough as the Quakers’ star collected enough kills from the outside — and utilized his effective jump serve — to thwart Clarence’s bid at victory.

Senior setter Dalton Squires had 38 assists, while senior outside hitter Ben Janzow added 10 kills. Eighth grader Teddy Payne, whom Starr said “has earned the starting libero spot,” added to his collection of 51 service points for the season while maintaining his 95-percent serving accuracy. No one else on the team is over 90 percent at this point, and the next-most service points for a Clarence player is 19.

“Our blocking and overall defense aren’t where they need to be yet, and this match showed that,” Starr said. “Even though Orchard Park knew that Henry was going to get the ball most of the time — he’s had half of our swings this season, three times as many as any other player — they still weren’t able to stop him.”

Things went much more in Clarence’s favor the night before against Sweet Home as the Red Devils emerged triumphantly from that contest, 25-16, 25-8, 25-16. All 16 of Clarence’s players who dressed for the match played, with Payne collecting seven kills in the first game before sitting the rest of the night.

Junior Barton Bookmiller served for seven points in the second game, while senior Adam Southern had five assists in game three. Junior Tyler White “worked his way into the lineup with his tough serve and smart hitting,” Starr said.

“It’s nice to be able to give the guys who don’t play that much some significant court time, since they all work hard in practice,” Starr said. “Henry’s a real team player and leader, and he was glad to see some of the other guys get some playing time that night.”

Clarence returns to action Thursday by hosting Hamburg before closing out the week by participating in Eden’s annual tournament on Saturday; this year, it is being played at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center in West Seneca.

Western New York 2014 Boys Top 10 Poll - 9/8/15
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS
1. Canisius (12) 120
2. Eden 108
3. Lancaster 88
4. Orchard Park 81
5. Hamburg 68
6. Clarence 53
7. West Seneca West 52
8. Frontier 49
9. St. Joe's 23
10. Lockport 16


Hilbert volleyball strives to become ‘One’
By: Aaron Garland, Sports reporter | Hamburg Sun
Tuesday September 8, 2015

In the last year, the One Buffalo campaign has exploded. 

It aims to connect Bills fans, Sabres fans and the city’s community as a whole. It represents the pride of Buffalo as it undergoes resurgence. 

Chris Krueger is trying to implement a similar dynamic within Hilbert athletics. 

This past winter, Krueger coached his first season with the Hilbert men’s volleyball team. And in the summer, he accepted the same position with the women’s squad. 

One Hilbert Volleyball. 

That’s what he’s shooting for. 

“It’s easier to get a whole program moving in one direction when you have one head or a couple heads behind it,” Krueger said after a recent women’s practice. “We’re not going to be doing the same thing with the men that we do with the women, but if both programs can take a little bit from each other’s game, I think that both programs will start climbing.”

There are sure to be challenges before Krueger ascends the programs to the level he wants.

The men went 3-26 last winter while the women, this fall, are out to avenge a 2014 campaign in which they went 6-25. But both teams do have a connection in Krueger, who sees that as an advantage in advancing each program.

“It’s not something that will happen overnight, but we’ll try and develop the culture,” Krueger said. “I could imagine in a couple of years both of these programs will be winning plenty of games.”

One thing is certain so far with the women’s group: practices have been upbeat and intense. 

“(Krueger) has been pushing us really hard with running and conditioning,” said junior outside hitter/right side Amanda Binder, who made All-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference third team last year. “It’s been very good for us.”

Binder was on the Hawks two years ago when they went 6-3 during conference play. So was senior Chelsea Adamski.

To get back to that form, rather than the one that got them to a 3-6 AMCC mark in 2014, Adamski noted it’s a must to continue the high-energy practices all season long. 

“(Krueger) is keeping everybody on their feet,” Adamski said. “It’s what we definitely need. Everyone seems to be having a lot of fun. Two years ago when we went on a winning streak we had a lot of fun and we were playing as a team and not getting down on ourselves all the time.”

Adamski (Kenmore East) will be a big part of Hilbert this season. Krueger’s plan is to use her all over the court because she has that type of ability. She’s more than capable as an outside hitter despite her 5-foot-4 frame, and she excels as a defensive specialist. 

It’s also slightly undecided exactly where Binder will post up on the court, but she’s proved to be a deft middle hitter and right side during her career. The way Krueger sees it, he can’t go wrong with where he puts her.

“It’s going to take a lot of tough practices of breaking stuff down to really build it back up to get there,” said Krueger, who is assisted by Eden graduate Stacey Smith. “But I really think she can be a special player for this program.”

Sophomore setter Morgan Ott is also one of the Hawks’ five returners and will see plenty of court time. 

Seniors Olivia Tom and Ashley Viengmay (Maryvale) are defensive specialists who will share time. Krueger sees them being a productive combination. 

Anissa Quiroga, a California native and sophomore transfer, is one of five newcomers. She could develop into a strong outside hitter or right side, Krueger said. Junior transfer Serena Tecl is fundamentally sound, and will find time at OH or RS because of that. 

Amber Hay (Maryvale) comes over from Hilbert’s basketball court to take up collegiate volleyball for the first time. She’s a potential middle for the Hawks — the lone position Krueger has to find a definite answer at.

Junior Nickee Thibault (OH) and freshman defensive specialist Kamalei Lene, a transfer from Hawaii, round out the roster. 

“We need to bring our motivation up more because we had a lot of injuries last year and we struggled to get our heads into the game because we were on such a losing streak,” Adamski said. “Our minds were going down. We just need that motivation.”

Krueger might have a good source motivation. He said that the preseason AMCC poll was recently released, and Hilbert was picked to finish last. That may point to a rebuilding phase, but Krueger doesn’t think that has to be the case. 

After all, the Hawks are just two years removed form an AMCC semifinal appearance. 

“I say anything above (last place) we should be happy with, but ultimately the goal is we need to be competing for one of those last playoff spots,” Krueger said. “If we work harder than those teams above us, we’ll be able to be one of those teams fighting for a playoff spot.”

Hilbert starts against D’Youville at 5 p.m. Friday (Sept. 4) before taking on Alfred State the same night at 7. Both conference matches are at Alfred.

Twitter: @Garland_SUN

South pulls a comeback
Buffalo News
Saturday, September 5, 2015

Williamsville South dropped the first two sets before rallying back to defeat Niagara-Wheatfield, 23-25, 23-25, 25-13, 25-19, 25-18 in nonleague volleyball. Melissa Postek led the Billies with 21 kills and Kali Yeats had nine kills and 23 digs for the Falcons.

Also in nonleague, Molley Gross had six kills and three aces as Medina defeated Kendall, Section V, 25-11, 25-13, 25-20.

CCAA sweeps
Buffalo News
Friday, September 4, 2015

In CCAA Central play, North Collins swept Silver Creek, 25-17, 25-10, 25-9, led by Jasmine Filkov’s eight kills and five aces. Also, Southwestern swept Pine Valley, 25-7, 25-8, 25-11, led by Sally Rudny’s 13 kills and five aces.

Williamsville North defeated Grand Island, 21-25, 25-23, 25-24, 25-17, led by Elise Hopkins’ 18 kills and 12 digs.

OP wins a thriller
Buffalo News
Friday, September 4, 2015

Orchard Park rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Clarence, 24-26, 25-23, 19-25, 25-13, 25-23 in five sets in ECIC I volleyball. Jason Manley had 32 kills and nine kills as Spencer Eagleton added 50 assists and five aces for OP.

Imposing front line to guide West boys volleyball’s effort
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter West Seneca Bee
Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lining up on the volleyball court against a 6-foot-5 hitter is intimidating enough.

Adding a returning 6-10 All-WNY First Team All-star to the mix, though, is the stuff that causes foes nightmares — and that’s just how West Seneca West’s boys volleyball team likes it.

Penn State signee Cameron Bartus, a third-year starting outside hitter, will be joined up front by junior outside hitter Ian Barker and Eden travel volleyball player who took the school season off last fall. The nearly 7-foot-tall Bartus, one of this year’s co-captains whom coach Brett Widman said “is an imposing attacker and blocker with much-improved defensive play,” averaged 22 kills per match last season.

Barker, meanwhile, will use his 6-5, 200-pound frame — and physical play built in part from playing travel hockey — to “offer a nice offensive complement to Cam.”

“Cam will no doubt be one of the top players in Section VI,” Widman said. “His jump serve and his offensive efficiency will be hard for any team to contend with. Ian will only help fortify our strength of overpowering teams at the net. He’s quite the imposing player out there, actually.”

Other returning players also looking to contribute often to the team’s success this season, include junior co-captain Jake Siwy, senior Justin Howe, senior Jack Bracci and junior Jacob Biddleman.

Siwy, who is sliding over from libero to serve as the team’s setter, “is steadily improving at his new role as setter and is a positive role model and leader on the court,” Widman said. Howe, a middle hitter and club-level player, “brings experience to a young squad at a position that will be a key to our success this year,” while Bracci, an outside hitter, will look to increase his playing time this season by doing whatever is asked of him.

Biddleman, a left-handed right-side hitter, should use his athleticism to be among the team’s top offensive threats. He also employs a jump float serve that proved to be quite effective down the stretch last fall.

“Offensively, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be one of the best teams in the section this year,” Widman said. “Our Cam and Ian combo will be very difficult to stop, and Jacob can pick up the team if either of them are having an off night. Cam had to carry the offensive load last year and took a lot of swings, which tired him out, but with more options this year our legs can stay fresh, which will help us out down the playoff stretch.”

Newcomers to the varsity level who are looking to have an impact on the team’s success sooner rather than later include sophomore middle hitters Peter Borzillieri and Connor Reilander, and freshman libero/setter Nick Pozzuto.

Borzillieri, a high-level long jumper for the track team whom Widman is projecting to be a starting middle hitter, will use his jumping techniques and ability to quickly pick up the intricacies of the position to become a go-to option for the Indians. Reilander, who is also picking up the position rather quickly, adds additional strength and athletic presence to the middle hitter’s role. He’s also willing to do anything to crack the lineup, according to Widman.

Pozzuto, who also plays for Eden’s club team, has been steadily improving in Widman’s system and is being projected as a player who will help solidify the admitted weakest part of West’s game this season — defense.

“Being a young team with guys trying new positions can mean a tough learning curve, but we have faith that come playoff time, we will be ready,” Widman said. “To be honest, our league record is secondary to learning what will be our most effective lineup and strategy. We will be a contender every night, but wins and losses are just numbers until playoffs.”

Though no wins or losses were on the line Tuesday during a scrimmage against league foe Orchard Park — nor will any be on the line today during a multi-team scrimmage at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center — West was looking forward to getting an early glimpse of where it stacks up against the competition this season, which it did Saturday by taking part in Clarence’s annual Invitational Tournament.

The Indians won their pool by going 5-1 in three matches, sweeping both St. Francis and Lockport but splitting with Lancaster. West then took out Orchard Park in the Gold Flight quarterfinals, 2-1, before falling to Eden in the semifinals, 2-0.

All-Tournament Team selection Bartus had 62 kills on 125 attempts, hit .352 and recorded eight service aces. Fellow All-Tournament Team pick Barker finished with 31 kills on 68 attempts, hit .324 and had four service aces.

Siwy dished out 80 assists, Pozzuto had eight digs, Biddleman added seven digs and Bracci served up five aces.

“I thought we played very well all day,” Widman said. “We had a high-power offense when we passed well. In the end, we just simply were outplayed by Eden in the semifinals.”

With the season’s first test now out of the way, the Indians will begin league play Friday at Hamburg.

“We’re just looking to shore up our offensive and defensive plans this week so that we can hopefully see what combinations of lineups will work best and what players will step up and lead the team,” Widman said. “Our goal is to win the Class B title and the state championship, and I truly believe we have the ability to do it. We have to mentally be 100 percent invested at every practice, though, and learn that a loss is just a setback and a hurdle to clear in our journey to our goal. If we own our mistakes and grow together as a cohesive unit, there’s no reason why we can’t make the deep run that we’re envisioning.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Returning league all-stars to propel Lady Eagles volleyball
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cleveland Hill’s girls volleyball team finds itself in position to push for a higher finish this season than 2014’s third-place effort in the division standings thanks to the fact that the Lady Eagles bring three league all-stars back into the fold this fall.

Cleveland Hill, which will look to replace a pair of valuable starters off last year’s squad, will be led this season by senior outside hitter Kristina DiBlasio. The returning captain and ECIC IV First Team All-star has been a club-level player since middle school, and with a versatility that has included stints playing every position over the course of her playing career, it’s easy to see why the fourth-year varsity player is among coach Sheri Gund’s most valuable assets.

Fellow senior co-captain and ECIC IV First Team All-star Alicia Huff, meanwhile, has developed into a strong middle hitter after transitioning to that spot from her prior roles as a setter and right-side hitter. The left-handed hitter is a third-year varsity starter for the Lady Eagles.

Rounding out this year’s set of co-captains is the team’s only other senior, middle/right-side hitter Megan McIntosh. McIntosh returns to the lineup this year after suffering an ankle injury last fall that prevented her from playing at all in 2014.

“Kristina is an athlete who can play any position and will gladly do whatever you ask of her, and Alicia has really developed and became a force for us in the middle,” Gund said. “I’m really looking for Megan to help us out this season too.”

Junior libero Emily McIntosh also brings veteran experience to the lineup as a ECIC IV Second Team All-star. Emily McIntosh has worked hard throughout the preseason, Gund said, and “is looking very strong” because of that work.

“I think having five returning starters, including our libero, is going to make a difference for us this year,” Gund said. “Last year we had the goal of beating the teams we know we should be because we lost to some teams that were not as skilled as us the previous year, and we are going to stick with that same goal this year while also working on being consistent. We are also going to add to that goal by working really hard to try and beat Alden at least once this year. They will be tough but we are going to do our best and see what we can do.”

The Lady Eagles were able to get an early look at what they might be able to do this season by taking part in a pair of three-team scrimmages, both of which served as solid preparation for their season opener Tuesday against Holland.

“I always tell my teams that serving will win or lose games for us, so we need to serve hard and to specific spots but also be consistent and keep the ball in,” Gund said. “We need to make sure we are serve receiving consistently as well, because we cannot give up too many points in a row and get ourselves in a hole.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

JFK girls volleyball preparing for life without All-WNY setter
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, September 3, 2015

John F. Kennedy’s girls volleyball team will be without the luxury of an All-WNY Small Schools setter when it takes to the court this season, among others, but second-year coach Amanda Moran is by no means throwing up the white flag of surrender.

Instead, Moran is eagerly anticipating what her junior-heavy lineup is able to achieve over the course of the 2015 campaign.

“It’s mostly a new team this year, but the girls are all eager to learn,” Moran said. “It will be nice to see how much they grow as the season goes on, not only as individuals but as a whole. We do have more height as a team this year, so I’m definitely looking for us to take advantage of that.”

Leading the way among the Lady Bears’ returning athletes will be junior middle hitter Victoria Getz. The second-year ECIC IV Second Team All-star “is a strong hitter” whom Moran is hoping can step up her game in terms of production and consistency this fall.

Fellow seniors Leah Hoffman and Emily Klyczek will also serve as co-captains this fall. Hoffman “is an all-around great leader and player” who “understands the game” and “is someone I can count on to take charge on the court,” Moran said. Klyczek, meanwhile, will look to step into the shoes of departed All-WNYer Jac Smith — and has the full confidence of Moran in her ability to do just that.

Fellow seniors Nicole Machcinski and Cayla Boyce-Wright round out this year’s crop of co-captains, while junior Melissa Chudzinski has the potential to be among the squad’s younger players who have an immediate and lasting impact on the team’s success.

“Melissa is an all-around great player and I feel comfortable putting her anywhere on the court because she is a quick learner,” Moran said. “I think we realize that we are not considered one of the stronger teams in our league, but that doesn’t mean we can’t compete and put up a fight against our competition.”

JFK, which opens its regular season Tuesday at Alden, expects to face a number of solid foes both in and outside of league play this season. Moran is confident that her players are capable of more than hanging with a number of those foes, which is why she’s anticipating the Lady Bears having a realistic shot at improving on 2014’s effort.

“The girls just have to continue to give 100 percent of their effort during practices,” Moran said. “Every coach understands that the season flies by once things get going, so we need to get the most out of every practice and learn from our mistakes during each game if we want to be successful this year.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Central’s girls volleyball lineup to feature many new faces
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, September 3, 2015

Despite losing four starters off a squad that went 12-2 during the regular season, Cheektowaga girls volleyball coach Denee Hickson is optimistic about her team’s chances at once again contending for a divisional title — and more.

The Lady Warriors lost eight players overall off a team that reached the sectional semifinals, but the relative lack of experience in this year’s starting lineup isn’t causing Hickson to lose any sleep. In fact, Hickson believes the Lady Warriors will once again put forth a strong defensive presence on the court, which will help keep them competitive as the team’s offensive efforts continue to build.

“We don’t have much height this year, but we’re still going to be strong defensively,” Hickson said. “We should be strong in the middle too, and we also have great servers who can spot serve very well. That’s one of the things that I’m hoping will help take away the opposition’s offense.”

Leading the way among the returning players this season will be middle hitter Jena Ponosny and setter Maria Verrastro, both of whom play club-level ball with Niagara Frontier Volleyball. Kenetria Redfern, meanwhile, should help out with the defensive efforts through her play as libero.

Paige Onisk, who will be making her varsity debut this season, should help with the team’s offensive options this season. Hickson noted that both Onisk and Redfern “are very athletic and willing to take charge out on the court.”

Hickson, who noted that traditional league rivals Springville and Depew should be competitive once again, is looking forward to getting into league play since the majority of the teams in the division lost a decent number of players to graduation last year — leaving the title race wide open.

The Lady Warriors will test their mettle with scrimmages against Cleveland Hill, along with a number of other teams as part of a scrimmage tournament at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center. Those opportunities should help Hickson set her lineup to where she’s comfortable heading into this evening’s season opener at Starpoint.

The Lady Warriors won’t compete again until they travel to Sacred Heart on Wednesday.

“We’d like to win our league and advance further in the playoffs this year since we no longer have Williamsville South to contend with in Class B,” Hickson said. “I certainly believe we have the team to do those things this year.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

State champion South hoping to grow through season
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Williamsville South’s girls volleyball team peaked at the end of last season, culminating with its first Class B Section VI, regional and state titles in school history. South moves back up to Class A for this season.

Lady Billies coach Tom Sproull is hoping the team can grow throughout the season.

“I’m really hoping that we can grow and grow as the season goes on,” he said. “I hope we are nowhere near the same team for our first match as we are for our last match.”

It’s a somewhat different squad as the team graduated key players like outside hitter Madison Clark and four-year setter Kim Dunkleman, leaving the Lady Billies with two new setters.

Senior Kelsey Stasiak, who previously played middle hitter, right side hitter and outside hitter and junior Jenna Wild, who was called up from JV last season to serve and play defense, will set. Stasiak is a returning Second Team ECIC II All-star.

“We have got to pass the ball a lot better,” Sproull said. “That is putting a lot of pressure on them but that is going to determine whether we win matches or not.”

If the passing is on, senior outside hitter Melissa Postek, a returning First Team Coaches All-Western New York Large School and First Team All-ECIC All-star, will knock it down for a kill.

Postek was also named to the all-tournament team at the Class B state tournament.

“If we give her a good ball, I’m going to bet on her,” Sproull said. “There are not too many people that can block her.”

Postek is team captains with Stasiak and junior libero Annalise Hoffman, a returning First Team ECIC II All-star.

Postek, Hoffman and sophomore outside hitter Grace Stahl will serve-receive.

Also back is senior middle hitter Brianna Neeley.

“I’m looking for Brianna to play a bigger role in the offense this year,” Sproull said. “Last year her job was to block. This year I want her to be an option to get kills on offense.”

Debuting at the other middle hitter spot is freshman Megan Muehlbauer. Freshman Hannah Abramowitz will play in the front row right side.

email: pnagy@beenews.com

Expectations high for Sacred Heart volleyball
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

There is enthusiasm throughout the Sacred Heart girls volleyball team.

Last year the Sharks finished 8-10 in league matches, 9-13 overall and lost to St. Mary’s of Lancaster in the Monsignor Martin Association semifinals. Sharks coach Allison Boehm said a team goal is to surpass a semifinal finish.

“The team is excited for the season to begin,” Boehm said. “Expectations are high for seniors to make their mark on the team and program. The team has been focused on competing each and every day. This is necessary when the season is so short. The girls are pushing each other to get better day in and day out.”

Boehm will lean on returning seniors Kathleen Ryan (middle hitter), Emma Madison (outside hitter), Martha Saltarelli (defensive specialist) and Sam Zillox (setter) for their experience and leadership. Ryan is a returning Second Team All-Catholic All-star.

“All returning seniors bring leadership and desire every day,” Boehm said. “Each play a vital role in the success of the team. They have had one goal in mind since the end of last season.”

Newer players expected to contribute include sophomores Claire Beecher (outside hitter), and Lauren Aichinger (middle hitter) and freshman Gabriella Berardi (setter).

Boehm said Beecher brings all-around consistent play, stability to the defense and serve receive and a solid swing; Aichinger has raw talent and brings more fire power to the team; and Berardi is a solid all-around player with a level head who is looking to make her mark right away.

Boehm said team strengths are defense and power up the middle.

The Sharks host Mount St. Mary’s in their season opener Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Sacred Heart also hosts Cheektowaga in a non-league match Wednesday and Mount Mercy Thursday and competes in the Sweet Home Tournament Saturday.

Sweet Home boys volleyball undergoing youth movement
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

With only three seniors and three returning starters, Sweet Home’s boys volleyball team is undergoing a youth movement.

The rest of the team includes six juniors and one sophomore and freshman.

“We’re definitely younger than we have been,” Panthers coach Rich Cicero said.

The Panthers will be led by tri-captains: senior Alex Weinreich (setter) and juniors Ryan Hayter (right side hitter) and Mike Ciminella (middle hitter). Weinreich and Ciminella are returning starters.

“Alex is a quiet leader and leads by example,” Cicero said. “I haven’t taken him off the court yet. He’s the quarterback of the offense. Mike provides energy and is always talking and making things happen. Ryan is organized and team oriented.”

A new player to the lineup is freshman 6-foot-3 outside hitter Caleb Luton, who played modified volleyball as an eighth-grader.

“At the Clarence Tournament Saturday, he started off slow but as the day progressed, he found his groove and was ripping the ball,” Cicero said.

Senior left hander Brandon Miller (right side) — the team’s third returning starter — senior Colin May (outside hitter) and juniors Mitchell Thurston (middle hitter) and Anthony Nguyen (libero) will also start.

Juniors Michael Hill and Alex Wagner will contribute at middle hitter.

Sophomore Nate Davis is an athletic player who should see playing time at right side.

Sweet Home’s closest matches at the Clarence Tournament came against Cheektowaga (24-26, 23-25) and against Iroquois (28-30) in the semifinals of the bronze playoffs.

Cicero took away from the tournament that if his players control the ball and have confidence as hitters the team is going to score points. He also talked to the team about not getting frustrated and staying focused on their side of the court.

Sweet Home’s annual tournament is Saturday, Sept. 26 and the third annual Sweet Home Alumni Tournament is Saturday, Oct. 3.

Clarence Boys volleyball team goes 5-1 in pool play at own tournament
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A tough 22-25 loss in the first pool-play game against Eden forced Clarence’s boys volleyball team to settle for second place finish in the pool standings in its own annual Invitational Tournament Saturday — which led to an early playoff clash with eventual champion Canisius.

“Canisius — which beat us 11-25, 15-25 in the quarterfinals — is clearly the top team in Western New York right now,” coach Kevin Starr said. “We weren’t able to sustain any offense against them, because they dig and block so well. Even when we had quality swings, Canisius dug them up and converted their opportunities into points.”

Junior outside hitter Henry Payne had a good day for the Red Devils despite every team knowing that he was going to get the ball most of the time. Payne, who had more than 50 percent of the Red Devils’ spike attempts on the day — more than twice as many as any other team member — finished with a kill percentage of .537, which Starr said “would be like batting over .500 in baseball.”

Payne’s eighth grade brother Teddy, meanwhile, scored points for Clarence on 29 of his 42 serves and missed on just one service attempt the entire time; no other Red Devil had more than nine points in that regard.

“Henry’s going to be very difficult for other teams to deal with as the season goes on,” Starr said. “Teddy started a lot of good plays for us with strong passes and digs. The first day of his Clarence volleyball career was a memorable one.”

Clarence kicks off divisional action this evening by hosting Sweet Home before closing out the week by traveling to Orchard Park Thursday.

“Overall, we showed that we’re one of the stronger teams in Western New York but that we still have plenty of room for improvement,” Starr said. “We’re only serving at about 80-percent efficiency, but our goal is to be at 90 percent. We’d also like to be blocking for about two points per game, but we’re below one.”

Defending section champion East girls volleyball loaded with talent
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Williamsville East made history last fall by winning its first Section VI Class A girls volleyball title. Duplicating the feat will not be easy but there is a ton of talent on paper for the Lady Flames to have success.

A big reason for the team’s potential success is the amount of work the players put in the offseason.

Coach Scott Wright said 10 of the 14 players are involved with club volleyball.

“Every kid on the floor plays club volleyball so they define their roles well and play as a team very easily,” Wright said. “Everybody communicates well. It’s easy for them to play together.”

The Lady Flames’ offense will come from senior outside hitter Carly Shifflet and junior outside hitter Lexi Novak.

Last year Shifflet posted 442 kills and 358 digs and Novak recorded 402 kills, 79 service aces and 392 digs.

The 5-foot-9 Shifflet and Novak are returning First Team Coaches All-Western New York Large Schools and First Team All-ECIC All-stars.

Wright said Shifflet not only has the tools to compete on offense but her defense is right up there with any defensive specialist.

“She is a complete player,” Wright said.

Shifflet has verbally committed to Canisius College.

Wright said Novak, a three-year starter, is another complete player and is the team’s best server.

“She can play defense or offense,” Wright said.

Shifflet is team captains with senior libero Sam Mendelsohn, a four-year varsity player, a three-year starter and a returning ECIC II First Team All-star. Mendelsohn recorded 472 digs.

“She leads the defense,” Wright said. “She stays active, reads the ball and communicates well. Those are three things that I want out of somebody who is a libero.”

Other returning starters include sophomore Mikayla Greenfield, who moves from right side front row to setter; and sophomore middle hitter Ally Jozwiak.

The team’s other setter will be 6-2 junior right side hitter Julianna Benz.

Junior Leah Orsini will contribute at middle hitter and freshman Rachel Steffan will contribute in the right side front row.

Wright is also pleased with the depth from juniors Megan Wiese (outside hitter), Ann Marie Jones (defensive specialist), Jess Weaver (outside hitter) and Alyssa Pijanowski (right side) and freshman Kristy Mack (outside hitter).

Chiara Munzi, a foreign exchange student from Italy, will contribute at defensive specialist.

East, who went 14-0 to win the ECIC II title, and finished 20-2, opens its season at home against Lake Shore Tuesday, Sept. 8 and Hamburg Thursday, Sept. 10 and competes in the St. Mary’s of Lancaster Tournament Saturday.

email: pnagy@beenews.com

Quaker girls and Lancaster Boys win in volleyball
Buffalo News
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Orchard Park opened ECIC I girls volleyball play, sweeping West Seneca West, 25-14, 25-16 and 25-11. Jaimee Glendenning led the Quakers, with four aces and six kills. Madelyn Rominger had eight kills.

Erica Bradley had 14 digs and Meagan Welsh had four kills and eight digs in Starpoint’s nonleague victory over Wilson in straight sets, 25-14, 25-14, 25-15.

In ECIC I boys volleyball, Lancaster wore down Williamsville North in the fourth set to win its league opener.

Jay Baumann and Kenny Rudz had 14 kills each for the Legends. Lancaster won the fourth set, 25-12, after three close sets.

Woman is first female LHS boys varsity coach
Elizabeth Pitts takes over this season from retired head coach Joe Whalen

BY JOHN D'ONOFRIO john.donofrio@lockportjournal.com
Tuesday, September 1, 2015

JOHN D'ONOFRIO/STAFFLockport High School boys varsity volleyball coach
Liz Smorol, left, is pictured at a recent Lions practice with senior captain
Magnus Cleveland. The Lions spikers open their 2015 season.


Sixteen years as a Lockport High School coach isn't a first.

Sixteen years as a volleyball coach isn't a first.

But this year, the LHS boys varsity volleyball team's coach is still making all kinds of history — as the first female coach of a Lockport boys varsity sport.

Elizabeth Pitts has coached girls volleyball at LHS for 15 years and she's also coached one year of junior varsity boys volleyball. 

So this year, “Liz” says she's not looking at things any differently. She's still coaching.

“I like that I'm a part of history, but it's still coaching,” she said at a recent LHS practice in the east gym.

The Lions are coming off a 12-0 season last year and were 14-1 overall under retiring head coach Joe Whalen. The year before that and the Lions were sectional champs.

But gone to graduation are the redwood Jason Donorovich and fellow all-star Brad Schneider, along with Tyler Goodridge, Ryan Smorol and John Patterson.

Liz inherits a young, but extremely promising team, led by captain Magnus Cleveland, the team's only returning senior starter.

Canisius volleyball almost perfect
Buffalo News
Saturday August 29, 2015

Canisius went 6-0 and won 12 of 13 sets en route to capturing the Clarence boys volleyball tournament championship Saturday. Canisius’ lone set loss came in the championship match against Eden. Eden got off to an early lead, taking the first set, 27-25, before Canisius rallied to take the final two, 25-14, 15-6.

Canisius’ Chas Palka was named tournament MVP and the all-tournament team featured Drew Schake (Canisius), Declan Pierce (Eden), Calvin Nowicki (Eden), Jay Baumann (Lancaster), Josh Schaner (Lancaster), Cameron Bartus (West Seneca West), Ian Barker (WSW).

Eden defeated West Seneca West, 25-19, 25-14, in the semifinal and Canisius won its semifinal over Lancaster, 25-12, 25-15.

St. Joe’s defeated Cheektowaga, 30-22, in the silver final and St. Francis defeated Iroquois, 30-26, in the bronze final.

#PrepTalkPreview: Boys volleyball -- Yet again, WNY oozes college prospects
Buffalo News By Miguel Rodriguez | @miggyrod33
Thursday, August 27, 2015


Griffin Schmit and the Canisius Crusaders could yet again
be the team to beat. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)


2014 champions: Canisius (Monsignor Martin), Lancaster (Section VI Division I), Hamburg (Section VI Div. II).

2014 league champions: Lancaster (ECIC I), Williamsville South (ECIC II), Eden (ECIC III), Lockport (Niagara Frontier League), Canisius (Monsignor Martin).

2014 All-WNY first-team underclassmen: Declan Pierce-11 (Eden), Jay Baumann-11 (Lancaster), Kenny Rudz-11 (Lancaster), Griffin Schmit-10 (Canisius), Cam Bartus-11 (West Seneca West).

2014 first-team all-league underclassmen: ECIC I – Payne, Jason Manley-11 (Orchard Park), Noah Choknacki-11 (Williamsville North), Maceo Jack-11 (Williamsville North). ECIC II – Devin Joslyn-10 (Lake Shore), Joe Zanelotti-11 (Williamsville South). ECIC III – Jordan Nosal-9 (Maryvale), Nick Patterson-11 (Amherst). All-Catholic – Dan Barry-11 (Canisius), Charlie Desmond-11 (Canisius), Andrew Schake-11 (Canisius). Niagara Frontier League – Kyle Burns-11 (Grand Island).

2014 recap: Canisius won its 15th straight regular season and postseason championships in the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association. The Crusaders finished the season ranked first in Western New York as they captured three in-season tournaments and won head-to-head meetings against eventual sectional champs Lancaster and Hamburg. They also beat state runner-up McQuaid twice and went 2-1 versus Eden. Lancaster won its first Section VI title since 2006 when it swept Orchard Park. Lancaster went 3-0 against OP last season en route to a 23-5 campaign led by first team All-Western New York talents Jay Baumann and Kenny Rudz and first team ECIC I pick Tyler Witt, who had 26 assists in the sectional final. Hamburg won its second straight Section VI Division II title and fifth under longtime coach Brian Carroll. Current Ohio State Buckeye Zach Yerington had 25 kills in the final against Eden. Ryan Dils and junior varsity call-up Jon Gordner played well in the final.

Déjà vu for Canisius: Canisius ended last season ranked first and begins the new one where it left off, according to several coaches, because the Crusaders are rich in talent, including possibly the best player in the area in Schmit. The junior is a great jumper who hits a heavy ball. He’s considered a top-five player nationally in his age group, according to Eden Volleyball Club Director Robert Pierce. Ohio State, USC and UCLA are among the national Division I powers interested in Schmit.
Canisius’ Charlie Desmond is one of the area’s best setters. Andrew Schake, Chas Palka and 6-foot-7 Dan Barry are returning starters for coach Tom Weislo’s Crusaders, who are determined to extend the championship streak to 16. “During the offseason when we’re working out and lifting and training, they talk about it because they never want to be the team that breaks the streak,” Weislo said. “It’s important to them. ... Since we can’t play in the sectional tournament, that for us is an important marker.”

Regarding Henry: Clarence has a couple returning starters from last season’s team that lost to Lancaster in the semifinals, but the key one is 6-foot-4 junior Henry Payne. “He’s the first Division I prospect our program has ever had,” longtime Clarence coach Kevin Starr said. Payne, who performed well at a national camp for his age group in Iowa, is a very dynamic and physical player. He figures to be the key to the Red Devils’ offense so much that Starr quipped his team’s plays are Henry left, Henry right and Henry middle. “We have a lot of question marks but he was one of our top outside hitters last year,” Starr said. “He’s definitely our go-to guy,” Starr said.

Eden is Eden: The Raiders lost a little height due to the graduation of Hayden Herc and Shane Smith but are perennial title contenders and solid at every position. Declan Pierce, who is committed to Penn State, returns, as does Calvin Nowicki. Robert Pierce said Nowicki is one of the best setters and athletes in the area. “He’s a very smooth, smart player,” said the 18th-year coach Pierce, who has guided the Raiders to 11 Section VI title s and 17 division crowns “He doesn’t get rattled.” Sophomore 6-2 outside hitter Colin Rigley is a good jumper and another player to watch.

Hamburg reloads: Hamburg is reloading but still expects to contend. The Bulldogs will lean on third-year starter and senior Ryan Dils, a solid three-sport athlete who plays basketball and also helped baseball reach the state semis. Carroll said he’ll start the season at setter but will also see time at outside hitter as the team prepares another to start at setter next season. “We’re in the conversation,” said Carroll, who has guided the Bulldogs to nine sectional finals. “By the end of the season if we do things right ... they have the talent.”

What about Division I? While Lancaster lost some seniors, it still has talent in the fold – specifically Bauman and Rudz – to make a run at another sectional title.
Besides Clarence, Orchard Park has the look of a contender as it’ll rely on Jason Manley and Spencer Eagleton. The Quakers are trying to win a sectional title for the first time since 2012. Frontier’s hopes to be in the mix and return to the sectional title match for the fifth time in six seasons. Lefty Zach Gerken is a hard worker who runs the offense. It’s a good bet he’ll pass often to 6-5 Matt Buss. Frontier last won the crown in 2011. West Seneca West’s top player is 6-10 senior Cam Bartus, who has committed to Penn State.

What’s new? The annual Eden/Can-Am Tournament has a new home as the Sept. 12 event moves from Eden High School to the Buffalo Niagara Court Center in West Seneca. Former Lockport girls coach Liz Smorol moves up from junior varsity boys to take over the Lions’ program.

Save the dates: The Clarence Tournament on Aug. 29, which features the top programs in the area, is the official sign the season is here. Canisius will participate in the Endless Summer Tournament in Virginia Beach on Sept. 19. There will be more than 100 participants in the one-day tournament with divisions organized via strength of program. Canisius figures to be in the top division. Orchard Park hosts a tournament Oct. 17, while Hamburg has its annual late season playoff tune-up tournament Oct. 24.

Championship time: The Section VI postseason begins Oct. 30. The semifinals (Nov. 7) and finals (Nov. 11) will be at Lackawanna High. Rochester hosts Far West Regionals on Nov. 14. The state final four is Nov. 21 at Suffolk Community College on Long Island.

Who’s going to be Prep Talk Player of the Year? Count Schmit and Pierce among the favorites in an area rich with elite talents.

Eden's Declan Pierce, right, is one of WNY's top
returning players. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

#PrepTalkPreview: Girls volleyball -- WNY's best take aim at more state championships
Buffalo News By Miguel Rodriguez | @miggyrod33
Thursday, August 27, 2015


Sam Burgio of Eden was the MVP of last year's NYSPHSAA Class C 
chamnpionships. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)


2014 champions: Clarence (Section VI, Class AA), Williamsville East (Class A), Williamsville South (Class B), Eden (Class C), Portville (Class D), St. Mary’s (Monsignor Martin). St. Mary’s (New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association), Williamsville South (New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B), Eden (NYSPHSAA Class C), Portville (NYSPHSAA Class D) all went on to win state championships.

2014 league champions: Clarence (ECIC I), Williamsville East (ECIC II), Springville (ECIC III), Eden (ECIC IV), Albion (Niagara-Orleans), North Tonawanda (NFL), St. Mary’s (Monsignor Martin), Hutch-Tech (Buffalo Public Schools).

2014 All-WNY first-team underclassmen: Rachel Reusch-11 (Sweet Home), Meghan Neelon-10 (Clarence), Sam Burgio-10 (Eden).

2014 All-WNY Large School first team underclassmen: Reusch, Carly Shifflet-11 (Williamsville East), Melissa Postek-11 (Williamsville South).

2014 All-WNY Large School second team underclassmen: Karley King-11 (Clarence), Claire Hiwiller (Sweet Home)-11. Honorable mention: Dana Mancuso-11 (Kenmore West), Kaile Sonnenberg-11 (Niagara-Wheatfield), Erica Bradley-11 (Starpoint).

2014 All-WNY Small School first team underclassmen: Bailey Dolegowski-11 (St. Mary’s), Emily Rund (Nardin), Kelsee Soule-11 (Albion), Meghan Ballou-10 (Eden), Burgio.

2014 All-WNY Small School second team underclassmen: Chanyce Powell-10 (Albion), Julia Panepinto-11 (City Honors), Jasmine Filkov-11 (North Collins). Honorable mention: Meghan Hurley-11 (Albion).

2014 first-team all-league underclassmen: All-ECIC: Neelon, Reusch, Shifflet, Burgio, Postek, Novak. ECIC I – Elise Hopkins-11 (Williamsville North), Madison Christopher-10 (Clarence), Julia Kurowski-9 (Lancaster), Ally Boskat-11 (Jamestown). ECIC II – Erica Bradley-11 (Starpoint), Sam Mendelshon-11 (Williamsville East), Annalise Hoffman-11 (Williamsville South), Marissa Parker-11 (Iroquois). ECIC III – Morgan Palmer-11 (East Aurora). ECIC IV – Abbey Scheffler-11 (Holland), Milly Breier-11 (Eden), Kristina DiBlasio-11 (Cleveland Hill), Alicia Huff-11 (Cleveland Hill). All-Catholic – Dolegowski, Caitlyn Meyer-10 (St. Mary’s), Rand. NFL – Mancuso (Ken West), Lindsay Proctor-10 (Grand Island), Sonnenberg. Niagara-Orleans – Soule, Powell, Meghan Hurley-11 (Albion). CCAA East – Allison Watson-11 (Allegany-Limestone), Miranda Gross-11 (Randolph), Lydia Lukomski-11 (Portville).

2014 recap: In a season in which four teams won state championships, the Lancers still took center stage. St. Mary’s went 47-0-1 en route to winning its third state Catholic High School Athletic Association championship in four seasons and finished the season ranked nationally in a few polls. Just how dominant were the Lancers? They played the postseason without state Gatorade Player of the Year and current Duke Blue Devil Leah Meyer and still won pretty handily. “The team was determined not to let her or themselves fall short of their goal to win it all,” longtime St. Mary’s coach Don Pieczynski said. “They were not to be denied.”

Coach Stephen Pierce not only guided Eden to its sixth straight state title, including fourth in a row in Class C, but also became the winningest coach in state history – passing legendary Sweet Home coach Sally Kus for that distinction. He has guided Eden to 12 NYSPHSAA championships and was named last year’s Prep Talk Coach of the Year.

Williamsville South won its first state title, with All-WNY pick and current UB Bulls freshman Madison Clark leading the charge. Portville won its second state crown in Class D behind the efforts of five-year starter and current UB rower Shanina Griffin, who had more than 350 kills. Williamsville East broke through to win its first Section VI title, taking Class A, and Clarence won Class AA for its first postseason championship since 1988.

St. Mary’s in ‘La-la land:’ The Lancers begin what coach Pieczynski calls life in “La-la land,” life after Leah Meyer and Ashley Drzymala. Those two seniors combined to make five All-WNY teams and made lives very difficult on the opposition. But the cupboard is not bare, something the Lancers showed during the 2014 postseason when they closed out an unbeaten campaign with Meyer sidelined by injury the final eight matches. Dolegowski remains on hand to run the offense. While the setter no longer has Meyer and Drzymala to finish off points, she is working with a talented group of juniors ready to become go-to options in Caitlyn Meyer, Leah’s younger sister, and Jess Kranz. Sophomore Summer Slade and senior Alyssa Zirnheld also will factor in the attack. Zirnheld has participated in various camps and returned to form after missing 15 months due to knee surgery, Pieczynski said. Nardin and Sacred Heart figure to challenge St. Mary’s for Monsignor Martin Association supremacy. But, the Lancers are still rich in ability and big-match experience. “They won’t fold their tents under duress,” Pieczynski said.

Eden is Eden, i.e. loaded: The Raiders enter their current title defense almost fully loaded. They return eight from last season, including four starters. The key returnee may be Burgio, the MVP of the state tournament who is one of the strongest all-around players in the area. The 5-foot-10 junior has already committed to Maryland and led Eden in kills and aces last year. Other returning veterans include third-year starter Meghan Ballou, who’s receiving some Division II interest, junior setter Alyssa Durski and classmate and libero Molly Breier. Freshman Paiton Basinski is back after starting as an eighth-grader. “We take every year as a new challenge,” Pierce said of the team’s quest to win another state title. “We’re hoping this team can do something special. We’ve been pretty young and small the last two years. We have a little more size. We’ll see what can happen. These three juniors have been starting since they were freshmen so now they can finally be called veterans.” Eden has won a division title each year since 1993. In addition to the St. Mary’s Tournament, the Raiders have been invited to participate in the Nike Tournament of Champions Oct. 1-3 in Phoenix and the Garden State Challenge in New Jersey on Oct. 10-11.

Same blueprint: Clarence’s goal last season was to play its best volleyball come late October. The strategy paid off quite well, so there’s no reason for the defending Class AA champions to change things up. While the Red Devils graduated two, they have three key returnees – including Neelon, who’s being heavily recruited by Alabama. The setter has had a strong summer on the club circuit and participated in a couple national level camps. Senior Karley King also had a strong summer and has the ability to play in college. Other key returnees include ECIC all-star setter Maddie Christopher and sophomore Melissa Ratzel. The Red Devils have high hopes for freshman libero Jaide Cummings. “We’re still chasing the goal of getting better and that’s the bottom line,” coach Michael Meyer said. “Whatever your record is you can always improve. We play in a strong division. Year to year, I don’t know if there is a favorite.”

Fanning the Flames: Williamsville East returns five starters from last year’s sectional winner. The biggie is outside hitter Shifflet, who has already signed with Canisius. She along with returning junior and third-year starter Lexi Novak each finished with more than 400 kills last season, which means the offense will likely continue going through them. Senior libero Samantha Mendolshon also returns. Coach Scott Wright believes his squad should be OK, provided it finds a replacement for graduated setter Natalie Berrafato and maybe get more kills from the middle. The Flames have won three straight ECIC II titles. Other potential contenders in Class A include Sweet Home, which returns two All-WNY talents in Reusch and Hiwiller; Grand Island with Lindsay Proctor and Niagara-Wheatfield with Kaile Sonnenberg.

What’s new? Williamsville South moves up into Class A after winning the state championship last season in Class B. So add South to the A contenders’ list.

Save the dates: St. Mary’s Tournament is Sept. 12. The annual tournament usually is the first gathering of area and state powers under one roof. St. Mary’s visits Eden on Sept. 21 and then hosts the Raiders in a rematch Oct. 21.

Championship time: The Section VI tournament begins Oct. 28 with championship matches slated for Nov. 9-10. Regionals and state playoffs are from Nov. 12 and 14 and the state final four is Nov. 21-22 in Glens Falls. The Monsignor Martin tournament begins Nov. 2 with quarterfinals; semifinals are Nov. 4 and the championship is at 6 p.m. Nov. 6 at Cardinal O'Hara. The NYSCHSAA tournament is Nov. 14 at St. Anthony's (L.I.).

Who’s going to be Prep Talk Player of the Year? Deep field includes Burgio, Dolegowski, Neelon, Postek, Novak, Shifflet, etc. The awards banquet will be June 15, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

Bailey Dolegowski (left) and Caitlyn Meyer will both be back
at the net for St. Mary's. (John Hickey/Buffalo News

East’s first-year girls volleyball coach eager to get 2015 campaign underway
West Seneca Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter 
Thursday, August 27, 2015

Michelle Jones is no stranger to varsity athletes at West Seneca East, having served for many years as the faculty advisor to the school’s Varsity “E” Club that recognizes some of the top athletes in each sport throughout the school year.

This fall, she’ll have an even better handle on the nominees from the girls volleyball team thanks to her return to the coaching realm following a hiatus to start her family.

“We have a lot of young talent on our team this year that is very promising for the future,” the former softball coach of eight years said. “These girls are the embodiment of the word ‘team’ to where they’re close both on and off the court. Their positive attitudes are going to really help us do well this year, I think; they’re just really hard working and great sportsmen.”

Leading the way for East this season will be senior co-captains Rachel Funk and Maria Quagliana, along with junior co-captain Julia Reed. Funk returns to her role as the squad’s starting setter and is looking to have an even greater impact there this season, while Reed, the team’s lone returning ECIC II Second Team All-star, will start at libero but can contribute to the team’s success in so many other ways. Quagliana, meanwhile, should prove to be a valuable asset both offensively and defensively.

“Rachel has a great serve and great hands for setting,” Jones said. “Julia is an amazing all-around player who can do it all. She has an amazing serve, and she can hit and set too.”

Additional returning players who should provide valuable and steady play include middle hitters Gabrielle Kandefer and Emily McElligott, as well as right side hitters Jessica Pratt and Kassie Vogel. Sophomore varsity newcomers Camryn Bianchi and Nicole Kumro, meanwhile, both bring height to the squad and, due to their work ethic and dedication to the sport are poised to be “huge parts of the future of this team,” according to Jones.

“Our goal is for the girls to do their best and have fun,” Jones said. “I’d really like it if each year we could see our record get better too. I think so long as the girls continue to work hard and do their best, that should definitely be an achievable goal.”

East, which looked to test itself against live competition for the first time this season when it participated in a multi-team scrimmage at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center Wednesday, will officially open its 2015 campaign September 2 against Orchard Park.

“I’m just really excited to be back coaching for West Seneca East,” Jones said. “We knew we’re in a tough division and everyone is going to be tough this year, but I think we’re going to have some fun this year. Even though I have taught most of my girls in the past, I’m really excited to coach them; I want to help them grow into the players I know they can be.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Lady Quakers looking for successful ECIC season
Orchard Park Bee by LEVI TRIMBLE Reporter 
Thursday, August 27, 2015


Shaye Swiatek (11) sets the ball up for Sadie Joba who is running in for a middle attack during a game from last season. Swiatek graduated at the end of last school year and now it is up to youthful players like Joba to step up into those roles. The season starts for Orchard Park Sept. 2. File Photo by Pat McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Last season saw the Orchard Park Quakers girls varsity team get through the season with a near-.500 record.

The team consisted of plenty of strong core players like setter Shaye Swiatek, outside hitter Riley Mall and blocker Olivia Jacobs.

However, this years team has a year of experience on them and a will to win.

Three seniors come back to the Lady Quakers roster.

Although the seniors are talented its is the underclassmen that look to lead the squad.

Elizabeth Chow returns to play in the middle and Sadie Joba will also play as one of the better offensive weapons.

Junior Ashlyn Hoover also looks to make her mark on the season.

Overall, the program is headed into an overhaul as many of the older players have graduated and the team has an abundance of eighth graders in the development system.

The team will once again be coached by Greg Lardo.

Lardo, a graduate of Hamburg High School, went to Springfield, Massachusetts for college where he was a two-time national champion. 

Lardo says the best part of the season so far is that the girls have already become so close.

However, the team will need to develop experience and consistency if they want to make a splash in the ECIC Division I schedule.

“I think we need to find an identity and see where the points are going to come from. They are a great group of people and they already look like a true team,” said Lardo. “They get along great. There is no animosity, just them working together and being on the same page and helping each other along. They go out there as a team and try to get it done. It’s crazy how quickly they got along.”

Lardo is hoping that the younger kids can learn from the upperclassmen and that the team chemistry keeps developing.

This is Lardo’s ninth year at the helm.

The team will play a tough division schedule with Lancaster and Clarence.

Orchard Park will open their season Sept. 2 against West Seneca East.

The team will then return home for its annual tournament on Friday, Sept. 4. 

email: ltrimble@beenews.com

Positivity, focus to be hallmarks for Iroquois’ boys volleyball team
East Aurora Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter
Thursday, August 27, 2015

Iroquois boys volleyball coach Mark Schlabach is positively excited about the 2015 season.

The fact that he needs to replace three starters off last year’s squad that finished ninth in the division standings doesn’t get him down, nor does the fact that the Chiefs will find themselves once again in dogfights essentially every time they take to the court against league foes. 

The way Schlabach sees it, there’s always a way to find something good about any situation his players might face this fall.

“Everything is positive this year,” Schlabach said. “Whatever happens — wins, losses and anything in between — we will learn from it, get better from it and move on. I really see us competing hard and not taking any plays off this year, and if we do those things we’ll do just fine.”

Having returning players like juniors Zach Popovski Jon Weremblewski, Austin Besch and Jake Duell in the lineup only helps fuel Schlabach’s positivity. Popovski, a third-year player who has both set and hit for the Chiefs in the past, “continues to grow and become more confident on the floor,” according to Schlabach. Duell, meanwhile, is someone whom Schlabach said “we are looking to continue improving with his ball control.”

The squad’s three seniors this year include Italian foreign exchange student Tommaso Dicaro, whom Schlabach called “a great surprise for us this year” and “someone who will be able to help us with our ball control.” Tim Acquard and Brian Willis are the team’s other seniors.

“Our ball control continues to get better and better every year, and this might be our best year,” Schlabach said. “We may not be a huge team and we still don’t have our starting lineup set yet, but I think we are going to pass well and run a quick offense, which are things we haven’t been able to do in the past. We have a great group of kids who enjoy playing and enjoy getting better every day and working hard in practice, and that’s all I can ask for.”

With Schlabach admitting that the Chiefs don’t have the biggest roster this season, it only makes the fact that Iroquois has as many versatile players on the team as it does that much more important in the grand scheme of things.

“We are pretty young this year, but at the same time I’ll have a number of different lineups I’ll be able to put on the floor,” Schlabach said. “My players know that they need to know how to play every position on the floor. Guys may not be playing where they want to be, but they will play hard knowing that I’m putting them where I need them for us to have the best chance to win.”

Though the Chiefs don’t have any preseason scrimmages lined up this year, Schlabach is confident that the challenges his players present to one another in practice will have them more than ready to go once the season rolls around. The players’ ability to make one another better in practice should also go a long way towards pushing Iroquois towards one of Schlabach’s bigger goals for the program — a return to past prominence.

“What we really want to do is improve our record from last year and continue to grow volleyball in our community,” Schlabach said. “Our goal is to get Iroquois volleyball back to where it used to be and where it should be. Many of these boys started this goal two years ago when they came in the gym two years ago as freshman JV players. They truly are a great group of young men.”

Iroquois won’t have to wait long to get its season underway as the Chiefs will travel to Clarence — Schlabach’s alma mater — to take part in the Red Devils’ annual Invitational Tournament Saturday. After that, the Chiefs will kick off league play by traveling to Starpoint on September 4.

“We just really need to make sure that we stay focused all the time,” Schlabach said. “We need to focus for two hours a day in practice and also during every point during our matches. We can’t take any plays off. This is shaping up to be a competitive year for us, which makes me look forward to this season even more than usual. Once we definitely figure out our starting lineup, we should be even more competitive than we are already.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

EA boys volleyball seeking improvement
East Aurora Bee
Thursday, August 27, 2015


East Aurora’s Jason Farrell, right, holds the distinction of being the team’s strongest hitter and blocker this season, according to coach Brian Zittel. File photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


East Aurora’s boys volleyball team finished near the bottom of the division standings in 2014, yet the Blue Devils — even after graduating six players off a squad that finished 4-14 overall last fall — are hoping to climb their way out of the basement this fall.

Setter Jason Farrell, whom coach Brian Zittel called “our strongest hitter and blocker,” and libero Colin Ruhlin, the team’s “strongest passer,” will be among the team leaders this season. Brad Mentecki also falls into that category, according to Zittel.

“I think our passing is looking better than expected so far,” Zittel said. “We don’t have a lot of team height, and we’re a bit less experienced than we were last year, so we’re going to have to work hard to minimize our mistakes. We definitely want to take care of business on our side of the net so that we can hopefully achieve our goal of beating more than one school in league play this season.”

East Aurora, which expects tough challenges from league foes like Cheektowaga and perennial powerhouse Eden, will have the chance to work out some of the kinks this week with scrimmages against Holland and then against multiple teams Saturday during a “scrimmage day” at Midlakes in Rochester.

The Blue Devils will then take all that they learn from those outings to prepare for their regular season opener September 4 on the road against Cheektowaga.

“I think it’s just going to boil down to us having patience, concentrating hard, passing consistently and working together as a team,” Zittel said.

Small squad anticipating big results on Lady Blue Devils’ volleyball court
East Aurora Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter
Thursday, August 27, 2015


Caroline Dudley reaches out to make a one-handed play on the ball during East Aurora’s girls volleyball practice Monday morning. Dudley is a returning ECIC Second Team All-star and one of just 10 players making up this year’s roster. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


The depth on East Aurora’s girls volleyball team — at least in terms of numbers — took a bit of a hit this season after the graduation of four players off last season’s squad left the Lady Blue Devils with a roster of just 10 players this fall.

Fortunately for second-year head coach Rebecca Suchy, two of those 10 players bring divisional all-star status to the court.

Seniors Morgan Palmer and Caroline Dudley were ECIC III First Team and Second Team All-stars last season, respectively. Suchy specifically noted that Palmer is a player “we are looking to for a lot of offensive plays” as a middle hitter this season.

Another middle hitter hoping to make some noise on this year’s squad is first-year freshman Olivia Covington. The former Immaculate Conception student played on the Niagara Frontier Volleyball 14-2 travel team over the past year, and also attended a number camps over the summer. Suchy has her slated to be a starter. 

“Olivia may be a young player, but she has a lot of experience when it comes to competitive play,” Suchy said.

Another player with good experience outside of the high school season is starting libero Rose Martin. Martin “gained a lot of experience in the back row” playing club volleyball over the winter, Suchy said, which has her primed to be among the better of the good lot of back-row passers East Aurora has this season. 

“I think we’re going to have a lot of good passers in the back row this year, which will definitely benefit our front-row setter and hitters,” Suchy said. “Morgan and Olivia might be two of the best middles in our division with their combination of height, experience and overall volleyball knowledge. Whether we can find a setter to get them the ball or not might take some time to figure out, since we lost last year’s starter to graduation.

“We do obviously have a small team this year with only 10 girls, but everyone is well rounded when it comes to volleyball and that will give us a better chance of winning because of that background knowledge and playing experience,” Suchy added. “They already know each other and having been playing together for years.”

East Aurora, which does not have any preseason scrimmages on the docket, is slated to kick off its regular season September 8 at Amherst. Chances are the Lady Blue Devils will have their starting setter mystery solved by that point, which will hopefully put them on the path towards their goal of winning the division this season.

“Our serving and passing are going to be the keys for us to be successful this year,” Suchy said. “We have worked on consistency since day one, and goes hand-in-hand with our goal to play with a smart, aggressive and consistent mind frame when on the court.”

Central boys volleyball to have different look in 2015
Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cheektowaga boys volleyball coach Jon Marcussen will be tackling the inevitability of roster turnover at the high school level this year after five of last year’s starters from a group that went 10-2 in divisional action last fall have moved on.

The Warriors actually lost nine players in total off last year’s team, which leaves the project starting lineup on the younger side at one senior, three juniors and two sophomores. One of those sophomores is setter Erving Harrell, the lone returning starter off of last year’s squad and a player Marcussen called “dynamic”

Seniors Ryan Skowron (middle hitter) and Tom Marchewka (outside hitter), meanwhile, return to the squad and will be thrust into large roles this season. Marcussen noted that both players “are providing solid leadership and will help the younger kids to be successful at the varsity level.”

“Ryan is being forced to learn a new position but is picking it up quickly, and Tom didn't play last year because of major knee surgery,” Marcussen said.

Younger players who are being eyed to be consistent contributors this season include juniors Zach Reinhardt (setter), Darion Knightner (middle hitter), Matt Carney (outside hitter) and Matt Burke (libero), and sophomore Andrew Reichert (outside hitter).

“I have a very good group of young players moving up from JV who will contribute to our success this year,” Marcussen said.

The Warriors are scheduled to open their season Saturday by taking part in Clarence’s annual Invitational Tournament, and then kick off divisional play by hosting East Aurora on September 4.

Veteran-laden starting lineup to push Lady Flyers volleyball towards victory 
Cheektowaga Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter
Thursday, August 27, 2015


Maryvale’s starting setter, Michelle Richardson, is one of the girls volleyball team’s smartest players, according to coach Tina Raczynski. File photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Things are looking up this year for Maryvale’s girls volleyball team following a 2014 campaign highlighted by a 1-1 split in postseason action.

All of the Lady Flyers’ starters this fall are back from that squad, which gives coach Tina Raczynski the confidence to proclaim that the sky is the limit for this year’s team.

“We are a different team from last year even though we are the same team from last year,” Raczynski said. “The fact that all of our starters are second-year starters will only work to our benefit; they all know the offense and the defense, so now it’s just about tweaking some small things. It has me really believing that we are going to do well this year.”

Having three Niagara County Volleyball Club players — seniors Brianna Henry and Shannon Mowry, along with sophomore Julia Carter — among the group of returning starters only further bolsters Raczynski’s belief that the Lady Flyers are destined for success this year.

Henry, a third-year starting middle hitter, has strengthened her already strong hitting and serving entering the season, which has Raczynski excited to see how she performs against the competition. Mowry, meanwhile, made the move from middle hitter to outside last season, and her production has only increased as she’s become more comfortable on the outside.

Carter, who is also a second year starter at middle hitter, plays for the NFVB 14-1 national level club team. Using her height to her advantage, Raczynski noted that her hitting and her blocking both “have improved leaps and bounds this year.”

“I think there will be a lot of expectations on Brianna to be a leader on and off the court, and the same goes for Shannon,” Raczynski said. “We’re definitely excited to see what Shannon can do with her hitting, serving and blocking coming to the next level this season. And it goes without saying that our expectations are very big for Julia this year. We are hoping that if her regular season is as promising as her preseason has been that we will see some all-star acknowledgements for Julia.”

Second-year senior setter Michelle Richardson, whom Raczynski said “has outstanding service skills” and “is also a great defensive player,” uses her smarts to make sure she’s always in the best position to help the Lady Flyers.

Junior second year varsity players Emily Raczynski and Jaelah George, meanwhile, bring nice experience to their roles as starting setter and outside hitter, respectively. Emily Raczynski also has a solid serve, according to her coach, and “makes smart plays” and “is confident in her sets” because she knows the offense as well as she does.”

George, meanwhile, brings a tough all-around presence to the team, excelling at hitting, serving and playing defense. 

“These girls this year truly know the offense and they know what is expected of them during the season,” coach Raczynski said. “This experience is going to help us move forward this year. We work well together as a team, especially playing defense. The girls just won’t let a ball hit the floor without an effort.”

The Lady Flyers will get their first glimpse at where they stand this season when they travel to Cleveland Hill September 

3 for a three-way scrimmage that will also involve Amherst. Coach Raczynski hopes that her players will use that opportunity to iron out any kinks in the offense or serve reception that might still exist at that point so that when they host Pioneer on September 8 for the start of the regular season, there will be no questions about what it’s going to take for them to succeed this year.

“We’re honestly just looking forward to seeing how the offense runs with the few small changes we’ve made this season,” coach Raczynski said. “It will be about putting it all together and putting it out on the court, and seeing what they do with it when playing an opponent. I think with us now having a few girls playing year round and making the commitment to the sport, it will only help us in the long run. The girls have a lot of heart and fight and we are very excited about this season.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Iroquois’ close-knit girls volleyball team looking to flourish under new head coach
East Aurora Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter
Thursday, August 27, 2015


Iroquois middle hitter Elena Grossman, left, is one of four seniors on this year’s squad who played in nearly every match as a junior, and as such is being looked at to provide a steady dose of leadership. File photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


A group of four seniors who played for Iroquois’ girls volleyball team in virtually every match during last year’s 11-9 campaign are hoping their experience can help the Lady Chiefs overcome the void created by the departure of three of last year’s starters — as well as the team’s head coach for the past decade.

“With nine seniors we have a great deal of experience at the varsity level, and that’s also made this the closest-knit team I have ever coached,” first-year head coach Mark Dubel said. “They are good friends as well as good teammates; they stay positive and always support each other in getting better and shaking off past mistakes.”

Leading the charge this season will be senior co-captains Missy Geil (libero), Marina Caparaso (setter) and Marissa Parker (outside hitter), along with fellow senior Elena Grossman (middle hitter). All four played in nearly every match as juniors, and each supplies their own piece to the overall picture that Dubel hopes is the Lady Chiefs’ success.

Geil, who led the team in passing last season, “has a lot of game experience as our defensive specialist” and “she has worked to become a better, more consistent passer since last year,” Dubel said. As such, Dubel is hopeful that she can play an increased role in the team’s offensive success this fall.

Parker, an ECIC II First Team All-star outside hitter last year, paced the Lady Chiefs with 138 kills and was second in serving percentage (96.2 percent) and in aces (39). What should be scary for Iroquois’ opponents, at least in Dubel’s mind, is that Parker “has improved on every aspect of her game – but her biggest improvement is in her hitting.” 

“Marissa is hitting the ball a lot harder than she was last year and she’s more confident in herself with each hit,” Dubel said. “She’s also getting off the ground a lot more than she did last year, which has really helped her overall game offensively and defensively.”

Grossman, a Second Team All-star, led Iroquois last year in blocking (32) and was third with 92 kills. Like Parker, Grossman’s game saw a significant up tick after her participation in club volleyball over the winter.

“Elena’s experiences with club ball made her a much smarter player in terms of where she’s at on the floor relative to her teammates and the ball,” Dubel said.

Caparaso, a setter, played nearly every match last season on the right side — which Dubel credits for making her a better defensive player. “She makes smart decisions about where to be on the floor,” Dubel said. “She … understands the setter position well to where now it’s a matter of developing her timing with the hitters.”

Fellow returning seniors Liz Cej (outside hitter), Leah Krzemien (outside hitter) Taylor Mossman (right side hitter), Michaela Hoeflich (middle and Hannah Gnojek (outside hitter) “will all bring their experience from last season and all have improved their games overall, especially in the hitting area,” Dubel said. Junior outside hitter Anne Feneziani and right side hitter/setter Alex McBride, meanwhile, are hoping to have a strong impact on the squad in their first year at the varsity level.

“Anne has the potential to be a starter and we hope she will be a significant contributor to our offense playing opposite Marissa,” Dubel said. “She played with last year’s team during the playoffs and has been playing in the summer league, so she has made the transition to varsity and she should continue to improve on the power and placement of her hits as she becomes more comfortable with the speed of the game. Alex is someone that we hope that her height and blocking experience as a middle player on JV will transition to her being a strong defensive player against opposing outside hitters at the varsity level.”

Though Dubel had not locked down a scrimmage for his team as The Bee was heading to press, he was fairly confident that he would have his squad ready to go by the time it embarks on the tough road that is ECIC II play September 8 by hosting Starpoint.

“Success for us will come from our ability to dig balls and pass them consistently,” Dubel said. “Passing has been a major point of emphasis in our early season practices as the offense will never run if we can’t play defense and get the ball to the setter. We’re really trying to get the girls to focus on the importance of a great first pass to start the offense so that we can run our offense from both the front and back rows.”

Starting lineup intact for West girls volleyball
West Seneca Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter
Thursday, August 27, 2015


West’s Olivia Levulis, right, is one of two senior third-year varsity starters and ECIC I Second Team All-stars on the Lady Indians’ roster this season. File photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


West Seneca West’s girls volleyball team is one of the few in the area not to lose a single member off of the previous season’s starting lineup, which has third-year coach Matt Todaro making some bold predictions for the Lady Indians.

And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that, for the first time in program history, an eighth grader possessing an obvious and overwhelming wealth of talent has landed on the varsity roster.

“Personally, I have high expectations for the girls this year,” Todaro said. “Last year was a complete rebuilding year for us and we had to go through some growing pains to get where we are now. This is the first time that I’m champing at the bit to get the season underway because I know we’ve turned the corner as a team. Anybody who thinks we’re the same team of old is in for a rude awakening.”

Leading the way this season and fueling Todaro’s confidence in his squad are senior third-year varsity starters and ECIC I Second Team All-stars Olivia Levulis and Lynn Cleversley. Levulis’ versatility on both sides of the ball as a middle hitter, and Cleversley’s offseason commitment to the sport are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of their value to the squad.

“Olivia is a tremendous asset for our team both in the offensive and defensive sides of the game,” Todaro said. “She is poised to be an impact player in our league this year and we’re grateful to have her on our side of the net. As for Lynn, I have never seen a player so committed to a team in the offseason. She spent endless hours each week not only preparing for the season, but also coaching our incoming freshmen at the BNCC Summer League.”

Sophomore Julia Lucas and eighth grader Kelly Cleversley are among the younger players on West’s roster looking to make an impact — and Todaro believes that every single player on this year’s squad has the ability to be a playmaker if given the shot.

“The true strength of our team isn’t in the individual players, but in the depth that our roster has at each position,” Todaro said. “Every single player on the roster is capable of playing more than one position, which adds a tremendous amount of flexibility to our lineups. If somebody is having a rough night we have three or four players who are more than capable of stepping up their game to help the team continue its success.

“This year’s team is unlike any team that has ever taken the court for West Seneca West,” Todaro continued. “As a whole, I don’t feel this program has ever been respected by our opponents. In years past, the girls didn’t believe in themselves — they accepted defeat. I’m happy to say that attitude has officially died in our gym. This is the year that West Seneca West girls varsity volleyball will earn respect. The girls have certainly earned mine.”

West began to seek respect from other area teams Wednesday with a multi-team scrimmage at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center on Wednesday, though information about how that went was not available at press time.

The Lady Indians officially kick off their season September 8 by hosting Hamburg and then play host to City Honors two days later to start a stretch of two matches and a tournament in three consecutive days.

Todaro concedes that the Lady Indians will be playing against some top-notch opponents this year — as per usual — but that’s not stopping him from believing in the potential of this season’s squad.

“When I asked the girls what they wanted to accomplish this season, they looked up at the banner hanging in our gym — our big, blue, beautiful and empty banner,” Todaro said. “It goes without saying that they plan to change that.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Flyers’ senior-heavy boys volleyball team looking to improve on 2014 campaign
Cheektowaga Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter
Thursday, August 27, 2015


Returning captain Sean McCarthy, left, and Adam Donner, right, are two of the eight key seniors hoping to guide Maryvale’s boys volleyball team to a solid 2015 campaign. File photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


With just two seniors departed from a squad that could’ve just as easily been a .500 or better club last fall, Maryvale’s boys volleyball team is poised to make some noise this fall.

It’s sophomore outside hitter and third-year varsity player Jordan Nosal, however, who is the squad’s sole returning divisional all-star. Nosal, who also plays club volleyball during the offseason, was a First Team ECIC III All-star last year. Nosal is poised to pick up right where he left off last year, if not surpass his 2014 output.

“This is honestly the most excited I’ve been about a group going into the season in my time here,” coach Andrew Murtha said. “ All of the boys been working hard and having fun, and I think we’re all ready to see what the season holds.”

Joining Nosal in pumping up Murtha’s excitement level for the season are seniors Shawn McCarthy, Mike Ferguson, Adam Dommer and Ryan McCarthy, along with sophomore Nate Zawadzki. Shawn McCarthy is the team’s returning starting setter and a returning captain, while Ferguson, the team’s right side hitter, will serve as an assistant captain.

Dommer, an outside hitter, is quickly building a reputation among the Flyers for being one of the top prospective offensive weapons in their arsenal this season, while Ryan McCarthy, a libero, should help get the Flyers’ attack going with his steady passing. Zawadzki, meanwhile, grew a few inches to go along with his dedication to improving during the offseason, which leaves him poised to potentially be a starter this fall. 

One of the team’s other seniors, first-year player Justin Magda, has shown to be a solid athlete during his week and a half with the squad and is carving out a role for himself as a solid defensive sub off the bench, according to Murtha.

Freshman club volleyball player Thomas Frain, meanwhile, has the versatility to play just about anywhere on the court, which should help him crack the lineup.

“We’ve got a lot of leaders on this team, like five or six guys who are worthy of being captains on the team, and I think that comes from all of the seniors wanting to go out on a strong note,” Murtha said. “It’s a good thing to have. They’re really fired up and focused right now on playing solid defense, even after just a few practices. Combine that with an aggressive service strategy, and that should be a nice combination for us.

“We should have some pretty good size in a lot of positions compared with most teams too, which should help us out as well,” Murtha added. “We want to get to a point where we can be comfortable and confident that we can play with the big boys.”

With the sheer volume of experience Maryvale brings back to the court this season, Murtha is implementing a shift in strategy to help the Flyers be a deadlier opponent this fall. Practices have dived deeper into tougher, more advanced systems that a rebuilding squad like last year’s group wouldn’t have tackled, and Murtha for one is eager to see the results that come from the shift to more advanced tactics.

“Last year was a rebuilding year for sure, so this year we spent a lot of time during the offseason in weight room, a lot of time training in gym and attending camps too so that we’ve been able to transition from a team learning the game to one learning more advanced aspects of the game and being more aware of what it takes to win in our division and in tournaments,” Murtha said. “We spent a lot more time as a group talking strategy now that the kids understand the game a little more. We can talk about how we’ll use our strengths to the best of our abilities, and I think the kids visualize that better now and are putting it more to use on the court.”

Maryvale’s play and strategy could face some tough tests this season after Murtha put together a tougher schedule for this year’s group, but if it’s true that to be the best you have to beat the best, the Flyers could be well on their way to reaching their goal of challenging for the division title this season.

“We’re playing some big teams during the preseason and during our matches because we want to be one of the contenders this year,” Murtha said. “I truly believe that we’ll be able to challenge Eden for the divisional title this year, and hopefully by the time playoffs role around be able to go further in sectionals this year than we did last year. At the end of the day, I just want the boys to have more fun than any other team in the division.”

Maryvale will get its first taste of how it stacks up with the contenders this season by taking on Orchard Park, West Seneca West, Lockport, Frontier and Grand Island, among others, during a busy preseason scrimmage campaign. The Flyers will then take all that they learn in those outings so that they’ll be ready to give crosstown rival Cheektowaga everything it can handle in the squad’s regular-season opener on September 9.

“We’re going to have fewer practices this year with the schedule I’ve put together, so the boys need to be smart about how we train — and I as their coach need to be smart about giving them downtime so that they don’t get burned out,” Murtha said. “We need to make sure the practices we do have are good ones, since there will be fewer chances to work on our game between matches.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Young talent to bolster Legends girls volleyball 
Sophomore Kurowski leads Lancaster’s offense

Lancaster Bee by LEVI TRIMBLE Reporter 
Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Lancaster varsity girls volleyball team is on the right track with a talented, youthful core.

Despite losing four starters from last year’s squad, the year’s Legends team returns a strong offense led by sophomore setter Julia Kurowski.

Kurowski is part of a young group of sophomores and freshman who are going to be the team’s playmakers.

It’s really going to be my underclassmen are going to be the big guns this year,” said second year head coach Becky Edwards.

Edwards is a Lancaster graduate and played collegiate volleyball at Brockport.

She has been a member of the program for 13 years.

Kurowski led the team in kills last season as a freshman, paving the way for her to improve and be a force to reckon with in the ECIC Division I.

“She works really hard in the offseason and played on a national travel team. She is being recruited by Division I schools,” said Edwards. “She can jump out of the gym, has high energy, is a really hard worker and is very strong.”

Another force on the floor for the Legends will be Junior Kara Paradowski.

Paradowski will split the libero role with fellow junior Katie Becht.

Paradowski is a talented athlete and is a great softball player. Those skills, specifically hand-eye coordination, will transfer over to the court.

Becht also plays on a travel team and will bring in much-needed experience.

The team also gets experience form the returning senior captains.

Sarah Lewandowaski and McKenna Cartonia will bring their leadership and experience to the court and help guide some younger players on what it means to play at this level.

“The team revolves around our two captains. Athletically wise they aren’t the strongest but they are what the underclassmen look up to,” said Edwards.

Kelly Feldner and Alyssa Babinger also look to contribute to the team

The team finished 7-7 last season and the year ended for them with a quarterfinal loss to Orchard Park.

In order to improve from last year, the team is going to have to build on its experience and grow as a unit.

“This is a really talented group and I am looking forward to coaching them,” said Edwards. “It’s a really great group, they all have fun together but when they are on the court its all business.”

The Legends open up the season at a Sept. 5 tournament in Penfield.

Senior-heavy Wildcat volleyball squad ready for final chance
Depew Bee by LEVI TRIMBLE Reporter 
Thursday, August 27, 2015

In 2014, the first time in a decade, the Depew varsity boys volleyball team had a winning record.

This year, the squad, led by new head coach Justin McElligott, looks to improve and maybe even compete for a title.

McElligott joins the team from within the volleyball program.

Last year, McElligott was the JV coach and is still working with that team.

McElligott is also the indoor and outdoor track coach.

The team is full of experience with six seniors leading the way.

Matt Van Houten leads the Wildcats this season as its star player.

Next to him will be team leader and setter Joe Scapallado.

Van Houten is a strong athlete who has a jump on the rest of the competition.

“Matt, he is very athletic and a powerful hitter. He also is a smooth passer. The only thing he hasn’t done is set and he probably could do that if we asked him to do that,” said McElligott. “The reality is the kid is just head and shoulders above everyone, literally, when he is jumping he is a head and shoulders above every one. He will be one of the best players in the division.”

The starting lineup isn’t finalized but look for Van Houten to be a middle or outside hitter.

According to McElligott, Van Houten will be on the court for every competitive point.

Along with the seniors, there are a few underclassmen in the mix that look to make an impact.

Sophomores Ryan Haak and Dylan Tyc look to crack the starting lineup.

Haak is a strong, defensive minded player who will fit into the libero role while Tyc is a physical presence who will make his impact closer to the net.

The team finished 9-6 last season and lost to the eventual Class A champions, Williamsville East, last year.

In order to return to a winning record and even improve and compete, the Wildcats are going to have to be strong and consistent.

“A lot of what has to happen in order for us to continue the success. The key is for the team to put together everything they have learned the last four years, making sure they know where to be on the court and what their roles are,” said McElligott. “With six seniors on the squad they are wanting to go out with a bang. That will be their motivation. They are helping transform the program to a strong one from a weak one in four years.”

Depew will open its season Friday against Amherst.

St. Mary’s expects to continue program excellence
Lancaster Bee by LEVI TRIMBLE Reporter 
Thursday, August 27, 2015

The St. Mary Lancers girls volleyball team had a historic run to a state championship last season.

Leah Meyer, now playing division I volleyball at Duke University, had a career year and earned the Gatorade Player of the Year award for girls volleyball for New York State.

The team went 47-0-1 over many tournaments and won the championship at every level they played.

It is a tough act to replicate but this year’s squad is up for the challenge.

The St. Mary’s team finished 17th in the national rankings last season as one of the premier volleyball programs in the country.

Meyer, a 6-foot-3 star on the court, led the team from the middle.

She will be missed on the Lancers’ court but there is good news for St. Mary’s.

From last year’s squad, the team lost only two starters.

St. Mary’s lost Meyer and Ashley Dryzmala, who is now showing off her talents at Daemen College.

However, the team gains a strong outside hitter and has Meyer’s heir apparent on the roster.

After a two-year hiatus, Alyssa Zirnheld returns to the court. Zirnheld missed the last two seasons due to injury but head coach Don Pieczyinski said she has picked up right where she left off as a sophomore.

Replacing Meyer’s spot will be another Meyer, Kaitlyn Meyer.

Kaitlyn has the same build and demeanor as her older sister and looks to fill into her role very nicely.

“We have a lot of experience, depth and hope to have another strong season,” said Pieczyinski. “We know we don’t have Leah and we wish her the best of luck but we have to create or own destiny.”

Also returning to the court are setter Bailey Dolegowsaki, libero Jessica Kranz and and outside hitter Summer Slade.

The team will also look for contributions from Katherine Vogel and Jillian Vitale.

Overall, the team has six seniors who are looking to make an impact in their final season in one of the nation’s top programs.

In other good news, the team did win eight matches last year without their superstar Meyer.

“We ended up playing our last eight matches going into the playoffs without Leah. We swept the state championships, we beat St. Anthony’s of Long Island. We didn’t drop a set in state championship and had only one tie in a tournament in New Jersey,” said Pieczyinski. “We fared pretty well without Leah because our girls had something to prove. We are looking for big things to happen again.”

This year the team has high expectations and have done so by scheduling a challenging list of opponents.

One of the big highlights of the season is the annual tournament the school hosts that brings in many of the area’s top programs including Clarence, Eden and Williamsville East.

As for Monsignor Martin Athletic Association play, St. Mary’s biggest competition will be Nardin who held their own against the Lancers before eventually falling in the league championship match.

The biggest highlight on the schedule is a tournament in Phoenix, Arizona.

This tournament consists of the state championship winning teams from all over the country.

This will be a big opportunity for the team to prove their mettle and show off what the program can do.

The team will also return to the Garden State tournament in New Jersey.

“Obviously we know we are going to play state championship teams who have lost big players. Some of these girls have played in state championship games since they were freshman. We are looking to pick up where we left off we are pretty good too and we have overcome adversity we have had a handful of serious injuries in the past,” said Pieczynski. “Right now we are pretty healthy. That’s pretty much it. Last year is done with and these girls are determined to make their own destiny and make their mark on the program.” 

Defending division champ South to sport revamped lineup on boys volleyball court
Amherst Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Williamsville South’s boys volleyball team was all but unstoppable in league play last fall, finishing with an 11-1 record against ECIC II competition to earn the regular-season title. But a tough draw in the playoff seedings spoiled the Billies’ fun far too early for their liking.

And now, with a lineup that boasts only a few players with a good deal of experience, South’s chances at putting together a similar campaign this fall will rest more so than not on some fresh faces.

“We’ve kind of got a little bit of a tale of two teams this year,” coach Thom Knab said. “We’ve got a small group of kids with a lot of experience and others with a little bit of experience, so the challenge will be to get them to mesh together. I think that once the younger kids get more experience in general, we should be set up pretty good to have some success.”

Though there may be a lot of newcomers taking the court this season, one player who fans should remember is senior Joe Zanelotti. The fifth-year setter/ hitter and ECIC II First Team All-star is also quite active on the club volleyball scene, and that extra experience playing against some of the best the area has to offer helped him frame his goal of going after the school’s single season record for kills.

“Joe’s just one of those kids who is really into volleyball,” Knab said. “He’ll definitely be a good leader on the team. With him setting we should have a really good attack. And, he’s got a pretty nice jump serve too.”

Fellow senior outside hitter Shawn Barbalato should also be one of South’s leaders this season. The 6-foot-5 ECIC II Second Team All-star, embarking on his third year with the squad, is also a club player. Barbalato, who also shines in the serve receive department, is hoping to make an easy transition from middle hitter to the outside.

Senior setter Evan Manna is the squad’s only other returning player. The team’s only other senior, 6-3 middle hitter Sean Brown, returns to the sport after last playing at the JV level.

Rounding out this year’s squad are juniors Mitchell Binda (middle hitter), James Oliver (right side hitter), Nick Pieri (libero), Anthony Leggio (middle hitter), Scott Jauch (right side hitter), Matt Reesor (outside hitter) and Matt Kennedy (middle hitter), sophomore Daniel Proch (outside hitter) and freshman Nico Zanelotti (setter / libero).

“We’re just working to improve our skills and decision making on the court at this point,” Knab said. “With a group like we have this year, you generally spend some time building up skills and teaching more of the basics, because we need to be able to count on every player on every volley.”

With no scrimmages on the horizon, South isn’t slated to start competing until it hosts crosstown rival Sweet Home on September 4. Until then, Knab will have the Billies focused on doing everything they can to be prepared to make a fight for a finish in the top half of the division standings this fall.

“We have so many unknowns this season, I just want us to keep improving so that we become the team we want to be by the time playoffs arrive,” Knab said. “I want us to have a reliable serve receive because if you can’t do that and pass out of it, you can’t run your hitting. We’ve got hitters with the potential to be aggressive, and if we can do well there we have the potential to really spread out our attack and keep opposing defenses from focusing on only a couple of kids.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Reigning girls volleyball champions loaded with talent, desire to repeat
Clarence Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Meghan Neelon, left, is one of two All-State All-stars returning from a Clarence girls volleyball squad that won its first Section VI title in more than a quarter century last fall. Coach Mike Meyer called the junior co-captain “the engine that makes the team go.” File photo by Daniel RosatiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Last season’s girls volleyball team ended a decades-long drought in the sectional title department, and with all but two starters back from that squad, coach Mike Meyer and his players are optimistic about the Lady Red Devils’ chances of making another extended postseason run in 2015.

They’ll have to do so without one of their biggest weapons from last season, however.

Gabbi Pacatte, a First Team All-WNY Large Schools All-star, averaged close to 20 kills and 20 digs per match, but more importantly brought “strong court leadership” and “a fiery competitiveness” that will be tough to replace, according to Meyer. Meyer knows that no one player is going to replicate that production by herself, which is why he’s taken the approach so far in practice to have multiple players try to replace Pacatte’s efforts “by committee”

Fortunately, the Lady Red Devils do bring back some top-tier talent back from last fall’s squad that went 12-0 in league play and 22-3 overall, including co-captains and All-WNY All-stars Meghan Neelon and Karley King. Neelon, a junior setter and First Team All-WNY All-star, was also a Second Team All-State All-star last fall. Meyer said that she “will be the engine that makes the team go” and that, in addition to her play “is our cheerleader on and off the court.”

King, a senior outside hitter and Second Team All-WNY Large Schools All-star last fall, was also a Third Team All-State All-star after stepping in as “an invaluable third option on offense last year,” according to Meyer. This fall, King will be “our go-to player for offense,” according to Meyer, as well as someone who will be eyed to replace some of the defense and leadership that Pacatte provided from the back row.

Graycie Enderby is this year’s only other senior, a fact that should strike fear in the other ECIC I coaches this fall. The right-side hitter “has grown in confidence since last year” and “will need to provide kills from that side of the net” this year, Meyer said.

Other returning players looking to quickly get back up to speed this season include junior setter Maddie Christopher, junior outside hitter Emily Kuhn, sophomore middle hitter Melissa Ratzel and freshman libero Jaide Cummings. Christopher, an ECIC I All-star, has grown into her role as setter, Meyer said, and brings a tough serve to the mix. Kuhn, meanwhile, is switching from middle hitter to the outside, but Meyer is confident she can excel in her new role.

Ratzel also started every game in the middle for Clarence last season and has only grown in skill and confidence level since the end of last season. Meyer noted that the Lady Red Devils “have large expectations for her as we look to diversify our offense from last year.” Cummings, meanwhile, “seems poised to have a great season” as the primary libero after splitting time at that position last fall, Meyer said.

Newcomers looking to lend their talents to the squad this season include junior middle hitters Mary Owen and Emily Perna, junior outside hitters Hannah Marlowe and Gretchen Weiss, and defensive specialists Lindsey Leipold, a sophomore and Lexi MacDonald, an eighth grader.

“I am hoping that our experience from last year will give us the confidence to respond to any adversity that we may face throughout the year,” Meyer said. “We’re committing ourselves to be an aggressive defensive team that thrives on ball control, as well as second- and third-chance oppor- tunities. With some of our offensive weapons, the more balls we control the more opportunities we have to score points. We play in a very tough league where it is a struggle to win every night, but if the girls stick together and support each other, if they put forth their best effort every practice and every game, there’s no reason we can’t see continual improvement throughout the season.

“We haven’t really talked about winning and losing at all yet, but we know teams will try to give us their best shot every night,” Meyer continued. “We’re really just focused on getting better right now and letting everything else take care of itself. We’re a different team than we were last year, so I’m interested in seeing how everything — especially our defense, our passing and just our effort in general – comes together.”

Clarence will have the chance to see just how much progress it has made in the short amount of time that has passed since the start of the season when it takes on Lancaster, Eden, Frontier and Mount St. Mary in scrimmage action this week. Those preseason tests should help Meyer and his players focus their efforts in practice leading up to September 2’s season opener against Williamsville South.

“All of the best teams can serve receive, play defense and serve well, so that’s what we’re aiming to do right from the start,” Meyer said. 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Small change of plans
LHS girls volleyball team will need young players to step up

Lockport Journal BY JOHN D'ONOFRIO john.donofrio@lockportjournal.com
Wednesday, August 26, 2015


JOHN D'ONOFRIO/STAFFLockport High School girls varsity
volleyball coach Kim Lockie, center, is flanked by two of
her top players at practice this week at LHS. At left is junior
Kathryn Krchniak and at right is senior Leah VanDenBosch.

It's hard enough opening a new girls volleyball season minus five of your now-graduated starters from a year ago. Add to that a devastating injury that ends the season of one of your best returning players and you can see the uphill battle the Lockport Lady Lions will have to climb in 2015. The blue and gold are fresh off a solid 10-4 season in the NFL a year ago. They were 11-7 overall in a season that included a Starpoint Tournament title and a second-place finish at the BNCC tourney.

Head coach Kim Lockie's Lady Lions will open their 2015 season with a non-league match a week from Friday against visiting Mount St. Mary. Lockport's Niagara Frontier League season opener is on the road, Sept. 14, at Grand Island. The Lady Lions' NFL home opener is Sept. 18 against Kenmore West.

Lockport will be without five key starters, Jordyn Kwoka, Alyssa Wagner, Hailey Bechtold, Faith Heal and Kelsey Mursuli, all lost to graduation. The Lady Lions will also be without athletic junior outside hitter Kathryn Krchniak, who tore her left ACL and will miss the entire season. “It's a big blow to our team, both in terms of her abilities but her leadership on the court,” Lockie said.

Another key starter and team leader this year, senior Leah VanDenBosch, moves from the middle to outside hitter this year.
Also looking to make an immediate impact this year are lanky middle hitter Brooklyn Cammara, a senior, and talented outside hitter Ariel Davis, a junior.

Clarence Boys volleyball team ready to bring the Payne
Clarence Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Clarence boys volleyball coach Kevin Starr is about as giddy as can be when talking about this year’s squad, and a big reason for his optimism falls squarely on the shoulders of his elite 6-foot-4 junior outside hitter Henry Payne.

Though no one player can win games by himself, Payne is a special talent the likes of which Starr has not had the luxury of coaching during his time with the team. Payne, an ECIC I First Team All-star last fall, will certainly garner all kinds of attention from opposing coaches after recently attending an invitation-only High Performance Camp for the top 50 players nationwide that are his age.

“Henry’s almost certainly the best player I’ve ever had,” Starr said. “We’ve never had a kid go Division I for college, but he’s already on schools’ radar. I’m assuming teams’ game plan will be to stop Henry, and I’ll say to them good luck, that’s how good he is. He has a tremendous jump serve and he can hit the ball from anywhere.”

Senior captain Ben Janzow, meanwhile, could wind up benefiting from other teams’ defensive focus on Payne as the squad’s outside hitter playing opposite of Payne. The 6-1 Janzow started for part of last season and should use that experience — and the versatility Starr says that he has — to make the most of his chances.

Fellow seniors Dalton Squires and Alex Martyniuk also bring veteran experience to Clarence’s larger-than-usual roster of 17 players this season. Squires will look to fill some big shoes at setter this season following the departure of Second Team All-WNY setter Matt Dempsey, last year’s exclusive setter. Martyniuk, meanwhile, should use his jump serve to lock down playing time.

“We’ve got a top five or six, but beyond that there’s not much difference between our seventh guy and 17th guy this year, which is why after the first day of practice I told the kids that no one deserved to be cut,” Starr said. “Every single one of these kids either played club ball, went to camps or did both. We’ve had to modify drills so that they’re efficient for that many guys, but at the same time having that many guys has made practices that much more competitive.”

Among the younger players looking to make an impact on this year’s squad is setter Teddy Payne, the first eighth grader to play at the varsity level in the history of Starr’s coaching career with Clarence. Standing at just 5-5, Starr said that Teddy Payne “has earned his spot” and “is going to get some playing time” because “he’s a real tough kid who just loves it when the ball comes to him.”

“Teddy should make a difference for us too this year,” Starr said. “He’s very solid passing wise and has great instincts. If he improves as much as I think he will, he should start a lot of good plays for us.” 

Junior Nick Ciraolo will also vie for time setting the ball this season after serving in that capacity at the JV level last year, while first-time volleyball player Jake Ireland, a 6-4 middle hitter, is using his athletic ability to improve on a daily basis.

“Honestly, there’s not one kid on the team who I’d be afraid to put in in any situation,” Starr said. “They’re all going to earn playing time, but unfortunately they may not all get playing time. Parents and kids know there are priorities beyond winning, but we are definitely going to put our best lineup on the court every single time too.”

Starr is eager to get the season rolling to not only see how much damage Henry Payne can do for the Red Devils, but also to see who else will step up and take some of the pressure to perform off of him and give Clarence other options offensively as well. There are a few other areas of concern Starr also hopes can be ironed out quickly once game action gets going, like blocking and setting.

“When you’ve got a horse like Henry, you ride him,” Starr said. “He’s going to be a difference maker in a lot of matches this year — he’s going to get the majority of our swings whether he’s hitting out of the front row or the back row — but at the same time he won’t be able to do everything by himself. If our setters can mix up the offense and get the ball to other guys than Henry, and if we can block better than we have in the recent past, we should be in good shape.”

Starr knows that ECIC I won’t be a walk in the park this year — Lancaster, the team Starr said is the one to beat in league play, has all but two starters back from its sectional championship squad that ended the Red Devils’ season last fall — and concedes that a .500 record in league play will actually be a big achievement. But, with the depth that Clarence has this year, Starr is hoping the Red Devils can use a multi-dimensional approach to keep teams on their heels.

“Orchard Park is going to be gunning for us since they’ve got most of their players back and we’ve had their number for the last few years, and North will be tough too with some solid guys coming back from last year,” Starr said. “West Seneca West has a national-level kid on their team too who we’ll have to try to slow down a bit, and Hamburg is always strong too.”

Clarence will have the chance to assess where it stands this week when it hosts Canisius — a perennial contended for the Monsignor Martin title — in scrimmage action just two days before it hosts its annual Invitational Tournament on Saturday. Both the scrimmage and the tournament — as well as a non-league match with Sweet Home on September 2 — will help the Red Devils prepare for their league opener at Orchard Park on September 3.

“It’s kind of hard to figure out for how what we need to focus on, but once we get to the end of the week and have some detailed stats to look at — we keep track of hitting percentages, serving percentages, where we’re scoring points from … and those numbers tell me a lot — we’ll know where we need to turn our focus,” Starr said. 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

East boys volleyball facing loss of long-time starters
Amherst Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Getting all of this year’s players time on the court might not be as difficult this year as it has been in years past for Williamsville East boys volleyball coach Michael Braunscheidel, not with a roster of nine players that includes just two returning full-time starters and another who didn’t necessarily play that often.

“I think we’re going to have some struggles and growing pains at the beginning of the year but, by the end of the year, I think we’re definitely going to have shown some nice improvement,” Braunscheidel said. “With a couple of breaks here and there and some fast gelling together, we might surprise some teams along the way.”

Leading the charge for this year’s squad will be senior middle hitter Alex Grano. An ECIC II Second Team All-star, Grano’s presence on the court as one of the two returning starters not among the group of four who graduated following four-year varsity careers should help some of East’s younger players get comfortable playing on the varsity court.

Fellow senior middle hitter Mike Shanahan also brings back starting experience, while outside hitter Jacob Weissert — whom Braunscheidel said “is going to be relied on to hit and pass for us after working really hard in the offseason to develop his skills” — will be stepping into a bigger role this season as the only other player coming back from last year’s squad.

Liberos/back row specialists Justin Fineberg and Kevin Xiang round out this year’s senior contingent on the team. The rest of the roster is comprised of juniors Sam Schatmeyer (setter), Ali Khadra (middle/weak side hitter) and Erik Regan (weak side hitter/ libero), and sophomore Drew Elliott (outside hitter).

“Sam is someone we’ll need to be consistent, and I think he’s going to grow in his starting role throughout the season,” Braunscheidel said. “Ali is pretty versatile and Erik can do more than one thing for us too, and Drew has worked really hard in the offseason to develop his skills. We’ve got some nice athletes on the court all around, even if volleyball’s not their number one sport. They can certainly use what they’ve learned in their other sports — work ethic, positioning, conditioning, the whole mental side of being an athlete — and use those things on the volleyball court.”

With volleyball not being the top athletic priority for some of the players, Braunscheidel is doing his fair share of helping his players learn the finer points of the game. That’s been one of his bigger priorities during East’s first week of practice, which is where he’s emphasizing his players need to be on a consistent basis.

“I think the real goal is for us to continue to develop and become consistent with our overall game,” Braunscheidel said. “The kids need to come to practice so that they can be consistent. We still need to improve on our serve receiving and overall passing, and we need to make sure that we’re playing in position, since all it really takes to be out of position in volleyball is one step.”

East will get the chance to work on its positioning, consistency and every other aspect that Braunscheidel wants the Flames to improve in against live competition Thursday by participating in a multi-team scrimmage at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center. East is also slated to have some joint practices this week with Williamsville North and Sweet Home, both of which will serve as valuable teaching opportunities prior to East’s season-opening match at Lake Shore on September 3.

“We’ve just got to be ready physically,” Braunscheidel said. “We need to make sure our serves are in so that we’re not giving away free points, and that we’re executing as best we can on offense. We need to look at what the defense is giving us and find the holes that are there. I think mentally we’ll be ready to do those things but we need to have that translate over to the physical side of the game.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Returning senior all-stars among North’s girls volleyball players seeking to step up
Amherst Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It’s a bit hard to imagine a returning divisional all-star feeling the need to step up his or her game, but that’s exactly the spot that three seniors on Williamsville North’s girls volleyball team find themselves in this fall.

The trio of third-year starters — outside hitters Elise Hopkins (ECIC I First Team) and Lauren Curtis (ECIC I Second Team), along with middle hitter Noelle Gulick (ECIC I Second Team) — find themselves thrust into the spotlight this season, especially in terms of providing leadership, after North graduated four players last fall who brought a combined 14 years of varsity experience to the table. Coach Keith Hopkins has complete faith that they’ll all be able to handle the added responsibilities while maintaining their respective high levels of play.

“Elise and Lauren are very good defensively, but we’re really going to need all three of them to step up and take the lead offensively for us this year,” coach Hopkins said. “They’re certainly going to be the girls providing the leadership for the team this year.”

Senior right side/middle hitter Shannon Kelley and junior middle hitter Morgan Simon both return to their respective starting roles for this year’s campaign, while senior Riley Crage and junior Cassandra Rosen will be battling it out over the next week or so to determine which of them will start at libero.

Freshman setter Abby Vincent rounds out this year’s starting lineup, though fellow freshmen outside hitters Allie Macon and Bri Brown — along with senior defensive specialist/setter Laura Saturnino — should factor prominently in North’s game plan this fall.

Rounding out this year’s roster will be senior right-side hitters Adrianna Soucy and Olivia Fitzpatrick, and junior right-side hitter Chelsea Bangert.

“We don’t really have a whole lot of height this year, but I think we’ll make up for some of that with our defensive play,” coach Hopkins said. “I’m thinking it should be difficult to put balls down against us. And on top of that, I think we’ll be able to serve the ball pretty well too to where we put some teams on the defensive with it.”

North, which reached the Class A semifinals last year, figures to be in a tough contest any given night with such solid ECIC I competition as defending Section VI champion Clarence, Lancaster, Orchard Park and league newcomer Hamburg lining up to give the Lady Spartans their best shot. However, coach Hopkins is optimistic that if his players continue to come together on and off the court that the Lady Spartans can make some noise.

“Everyone’s going to have to pull their own weight this year, but the girls realize that and have responded to it with a tremendous work ethic in practice that I hope will carry over to our games,” coach Hopkins said. “We certainly approach each practice and each game as an opportunity to improve and play the best we can, and that’s where our never quit attitude should really help us.”

Coach Hopkins hopes to have a bit more figured out about this year’s team by the time North’s scrimmages with the other two Williamsville schools on Friday, as well as with Sweet Home and Sacred Heart on Monday, are under the Lady Spartans’ belts. At the very least, those opportunities to iron out the kinks should allow North to be as prepared as possible for its regular season debut September 3 against Grand Island.

“There’s still a lot we need to find out about ourselves and what we have this year, and fortunately for us these scrimmages we have coming up are good opportunities to do those things,” coach Hopkins said. “We think we know what we’re pretty good at, and these scrimmages will show us if we can put al of the things together that we’ve been working on so far. They’ll show us how our depth is, and they’ll show us how our younger players adjust to the varsity level.

“We just need everyone to do their job — and that may include stepping up into some new, unfamiliar roles,” coach Hopkins continued. “We graduated a lot of kids who knew what it took to be successful in our division, so we need some girls to step up in the leadership department too. And, a little luck can’t hurt. All I know is, I’m just as anxious as anyone to see what we’ve got.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Schepart looks to improve young volleyball program 
Lasher to lead Lady Tigers
Amherst Bee by LEVI TRIMBLE Reporter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Rookie head coach Rachel Schepart will take the reins and lead the Amherst girls volleyball program starting this season.

The team, which finished its regular season 9-7 last season, will look to the Class of 2010 Amherst graduate to raise the bar and lead the Lady Tigers to success.

Schepart coached the JV squad at the Nichols School in Buffalo last season.

Schepart played six years on the Lady Tigers varsity squad and hopes to use her skill and experience to work to make sure this young squad can grow into a consistent winner.

The team lost most of its starting lineup from last season.

The team lost Alex Allard, Maddie Aston, Megan Bessel, Kourtney Cox and Holly Sullivan to graduation.

However, the team does return a few key core players in seniors Gabby Lasher (outside hitter) and Kayla Cordero (libero).

According to Schepart, Lasher has stepped up this offseason and taken over as a strong leader on the team.

“From the beginning, she stood out from the group as a leader, doing the basics, serving, passing and creating opportunities,” said Schepart. “She is very open to collective criticism. She is open to learning and suggestions on how to improve.”

Junior Mary Clare Kuhn (libero) returns to make an impact for the squad.

Junior Mykela Moore (middle hitter) also returns to the court for the Lady Tigers.

The team is looking to start four sophomores in this underclassmen heavy team. 

Mia Ciccarella and Elizabeth Hall will play setter while Hannah Bardeen will play as an outside hitter.

Caroline Seaner, a middle hitter, rounds out the starting squad.

“I am hoping this is the first year of the underclassmen learning what its like to be on varsity,” said Schepart. “We have an early scrimmage tournament and a scrimmage against a few teams and I hope they use that as a learning experience to adjust to the play at the varsity level.”

Schepart brings in a new rotation system that the team has not previously used and she is pleased with the results already.

“We have to show unity on the court. I introduced a new rotation. Already the sophomores are helping each other out,” said Schepart. “They are telling each other where to go on the floor and the team is starting to build chemistry.”

Lasher and Ciccerella will be the team captains this season.

The underclassmen have stepped up their effort since the beginning of practice. 

According to Schepart, many players are staying after practice, helping to clean up, working extra hours and have started developing friendships vital to having a close, competitive team.

Schepart said the goal of the season is to continue to improve and hopefully improve on last years overall season performance. 

email: ltrimble@beenews.com

Reusch to lead Sweet Home’s girls volleyball squad 
Panthers working to return to sectional final 

Amherst Bee LEVI TRIMBLE Sports Reporter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Sweet Home’s Rachel Reusch bumps a serve as Hannah Sigurdson looks on during a tournament match against Williamsville East last Sept. Reusch is the team leader for Sweet Home who were the 2014 runners-up in Section VI Class A. File photo by Nick LoVerdePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Last season, the Sweet Home varsity girls volleyball team fell just short of a consecutive sectional championship.

The Panthers, who finished the season 15-5, fell to Williamsville East in the Class A final.

Sweet Home won the title in 2013, defeating the Flames in what is the beginning of a rivalry.

The Panthers lost three starters from last years squad to graduation, including standout middle hitter Emily Hubert.

However, the team returned two star players including the versatile senior

Rachel Reusch and Claire Hiwiller.

“She is such a versatile player. She is a six position player and has a dynamic swing that’s so powerful,” said Sweet Home head coach Brean Martin. “She is a smart player. She has strong court sense. She is the whole package. She is comfortable on the court since she has been playing at the varsity level and above for so long.”

Reusch is the go-to player on the floor to deliver in the clutch. The team knows that as well as the opposition.

“A lot of times when we need a point Rachel is going to get the ball. She knows teams are out for her and are looking for her,” said Martin. “She is comfortable with that role and that makes her really special.”

The offense of this year’s squad will be facilitated through setter Claire Hiwiller.

“Claire is a quarterback of the team and is a setter. Her ball control has made our offense so powerful. She is smart and puts the ball where it needs to go,” said Martin. “She redirects the ball to fool the defense. Her defense is just awesome. The ball control with Claire is nice. Its not something that is common at the high school level.”

Overall, according to Martin, the team looks to get back to the finals. They are strong, willing to learn and willing to put in the work to get over the next challenge.

“I think the biggest thing is communication. Everyone needs to be comfortable playing with each other and communicating,” said Martin about what the team needs to do to get back to the title round. “After that just the leadership from our seniors is going to be huge.”

The Panthers will participate in a tournament at Orchard Park Sept. 4 and then start the regular season on Sept. 8 against Williamsville South.

“They are great kids, good athletes, eager to learn and they are fun to coach. It’s a good package,” said Martin.

Veteran-laden boys volleyball squad looking to make noise at Will North
Amherst Bee by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Williamsville North outside hitter Noah Chojnacki is the boys volleyball team’s sole returning ECIC I First Team All-star this season. File photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com 


This season is shaping up to be a big one for Williamsville North’s boys volleyball team.

Five starters return to the lineup off a squad that reached the Class B semifinals last fall, and though ECIC I is a perennially tough division to compete in, the Spartans are hoping that their veteran presence on the court — all five have been with the team since their sophomore years — will propel them far beyond the .500 mark where the team spent a good chunk of the 2014 season.

“There’s no doubt that our division is really tough with no easy opponents, but I certainly think we’ll compete in every match,” coach Mike Minnuto said. “We were pretty competitive last year and, with a nice group of third-year players leading the way, I think we’re going to be pretty competitive again this year.”

Leading the way among North’s veteran leaders will be senior outside hitter Noah Chojnacki, the team’s sole returning ECIC I First Team All-star. Fellow senior outside hitter Ryan Greene, whom Minnuto called “a very athletic and hard working kid,” will help give the Spartans a dynamic one-two punch from the outside. Six-foot-three senior captain Connor Thomas, meanwhile, will give North an imposing presence on that side of the net.

This year’s starting middle hitter, senior Peter Battaglia, will bring the same toughness to that position that he exhibited as an outside hitter last fall. Setter Jeremy Shatz closes out North’s contingent of skilled and experienced senior class.

Middle hitter Mason O’Neil, a 6-3 junior, is also hoping to make a splash thanks to his club-level experience even though he did not play for North at any level last year. Returning junior back row specialist Zach Neira is also looking to have an impact on North’s success in his role, as is former JV libero Joe Battaglia, a sophomore.

“I think our experience is definitely going to help us out, and with us bringing back as many starters as we are it should hopefully lift us to a different level,” Minnuto said. “I’m hoping our experience will help us dictate play and set the tone for our matches. We’re honestly a very balanced team, though we’ve got two really good hitters on the outside who should be among the better hitters in the section this year.”

North is still ironing out some kinks as it continues through just the second week of the season this week, but Minnuto is confident that the Spartans will be able to make use of their upcoming scrimmages with Williamsville East and Lancaster to become an even more cohesive unit heading into the start of the regular season. 

“We’re going to take each match one game at a time, but we always want to be competitive in our division, to do well in our non-league matches and play good ball in the tournaments we play in too,” Minnuto said. “The season is quick and you wind up squeezing in a lot of games in that time, so that just means we’ve got to keep a level head.”

North will officially begin its quest to finish more matches on the high side than the low side by hosting Lancaster on September 4.

“You’ve got to control the ball before you can get in to your offense, so if we can play well defensively it should translate to some strong offensive play,” Minnuto said. “There are no days off; every match is a new challenge. You can’t get too high after a win or too low after a loss. The nice part about volleyball is that when you start to feel really good, you get another game, and when you’re playing bad, you’ve got another opportunity to get better.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Patterson, Greco to lead Amherst boys volleyball
Tigers hope to improve on last year’s 6-11 record
Amherst Bee
by LEVI TRIMBLE Reporter 
Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Amherst’s Tom Greco delivers a shot in a 2014 tournament at Clarence High School. Greco is one of the leading offensive players on the Amherst varsity boys volleyball team and will look to lead this young roster into the 2015 campaign. File photo by Pat McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Coach Pete Wlosinski and the Amherst varsity boys volleyball team look to improve on their 6-11 record from last season.

The 13-member Tigers team will have a lot of youth because the school no longer supports a JV team.

This years team returns a strong core but will miss the three seniors it lost to graduation including the teams second leading hitter Ethan Ahuna.

However the team returns a lot of skill and leadership, specifically with seniors Tom Greco and Nick Patterson.

Both players are outside hitters and captains.

Patterson led the team in kills last season, recording 150 on the season.

“We are looking for him to continue that attack for us and lead us,” said Wlosinski about Patterson.

Greco is a defensive minded player and a very strong one at that.

Greco led the team in digs last season with 200. Patterson was right behind him with 190.

Greco also had his hand on the offense, recording 80 kills.

Patterson and Greco are also the teams top two servers.

Starting at setter is Mike Hidalgo.

Wlosinski describes Hidalgo as the quarterback of the team and is happy with his distribution abilities and ball control.

“I am pleased with the way he has progressed over the years. He tallied 265 assists last year,” said Wlonsinski. “He was dishing it out they were crushing it.”

Eric Niblock also returns to the squad as a middle blocker.

Niblock is a versatile player and will play where the team needs him with no questions asked, said Wlosinski. 

“I can pretty much put him anywhere on the court. He will be middle blocker most likely. He understands that’s where he needs to be,” said Wlosinski. “He is a consistent passer and has a good serve. We are hoping he steps up.”

Junior Andrew Harvey, with his 6-foot-5 frame, looks to be a dominant force at the net this season.

If Harvey can use his height to his advantage and make big blocks it will certainly take pressure off the rest of the team and also be an intimidating feature when teams play the Tigers.

Wlosinski expects Harvey to become a “powerful leader” for the team.

At libero this year will be Colin Blatz.

According to Wlosinski, Blatz knows the game very well and knows his defensive prowess will help the team out immensely.

In his first year on the varsity squad, junior

Matthew Ferri returns to the court.

Ferri last played for

Amherst as an eighth grader but has taken a few seasons off.

Joining the team as sophomores are Davon France, Aidan Keyes, Sam Butler, John LoTempio and Anthony Pittari.

These underclassmen are young but are willing to go through the work to become better players and improve the team, according to Wlosinski.

Wlosinski said the key to this team improving would be the play at the net.

“We need a lot of play at the net. Last year we dug and played defense like we never have before. I want them to be more forceful,” said Wlosinski. “I have a lot of guys who are returning to played many years. I want to take that attack at the net another level.”

Amherst will have a tough schedule as they play Depew and Cheektowaga, both teams that have given the Tigers trouble the past few years.

Wlosinski hopes the youth of this team will lead to more skilled teams down the road.

“I use what they know and what they have been taught and they push themselves. I want them to reach for improvement 

I want them to push themselves to be as great as they can be,” said Wlosinski.

The team opens the season with an Aug. 29 tournament then hit the road for the regular season opener Sept. 4 at Depew.

Amherst native named Daemen women’s volleyball coach
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Amherst native Bob Maxwell was recently named head women’s volleyball coach at Daemen College.

In addition, Stephanie Albano has been named the program’s associate head coach.

Maxwell replaces Mark Parisi, who led Daemen to over 150 wins in his 10-year tenure.

Maxwell comes to Daemen after spending 32 years in a variety of roles at the University at Buffalo, retiring from there in October 2013.

He rose to prominence while leading the Bulls’ women’s volleyball program from 1981-98, a period of time that saw the program ascend from Division III to Division II and eventually to Division I.

In that span, Maxwell’s teams achieved a record of 409-285-8, giving Maxwell more wins than any coach in any sport in UB’s history.

Maxwell was named Mid-Continent Coach of the Year in 1997, and his 1986 team went 52-6, achieving the most victories by any team at all divisions that season, and earning a No. 5 ranking in the nation. In 1989 and 1990, he led the Bulls to No. 1 regional rankings in the Northeast and Atlantic regions, respectively.

Maxwell will lean heavily on his newly appointed associate head coach, Albano, a Lancaster native who helped the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to two Atlantic Coast Conference championships during her collegiate career there from 2005 to 2009.

2015 Boys' Fab 50 and 25 Underclassmen to Watch
Top senior talent, plus sophomores and juniors making a name for themselves
Mike Miazga, Volleyball Magazine
Thursday, June 11, 2015

T.J. DeFalco headlines the 2015 Boys' Fab 50


For many of volleyball’s top athletes, being named to the Volleyball magazine Fab 50 list was a harbinger of great things to come. National team stars Matt Anderson, Kawika Shoji, Micah Christenson, and Taylor Sander all made appearances on the list, as did top beach volleyball athletes Tri Bourne, Brad Keenan, and Jeremy Casebeer. And this summer, T.J. DeFalco, the No. 1 recruit in the newest installment of this respected ranking, will begin his career with the senior national team as a member of the World League roster. The No. 2-ranked recruit, Jordan Ewert, first picked up a volleyball in eighth grade but in the five years since has rocketed to the top of his class. Ranked third in the group, Virginia native Brett Rosenmeier will take his talents to Hawaii come fall—with experience both indoors and on the beach, he’ll have his pick of which path to take after spending four years in paradise. 

There’s no way to know which of these outstanding senior athletes will someday play in the Olympics or tour with the AVP or perhaps even coach a team to an NCAA national championship, but with their extraordinary high school careers coming to an end, we can guarantee that you will be seeing many of these names in headlines for years to come.

James Anastassiades 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: OH 
High School: Huntington Beach (Calif.) 
Club: The HBC 
College: Hawaii

Matt August 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: MB/Opp. 
High School: San Clemente (Calif.) 
Club: 949 
College: UC Irvine

Avery Aylsworth 
Height: 6'0" 
Position: L 
High School: St. Francis (Mountain View, Calif.) 
Club: Pacific Rim 
College: Loyola

Kyle Barnes 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: OH 
High School: Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) 
Club: Coastal 
College: George Mason

Ryne Benson 
Height: 6'2" 
Position: S/Opp. 
High School: Brophy College Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) 
Club: Spiral 
College: Cal Baptist

Luke Braswell 
Height: 6'5" 
Position: S 
High School: Northeastern (Manchester, Pa.) 
Club: NA 
College: Penn State

Ryan Coenen 
Height: 6'8" 
Position: OH 
High School: Franklin (Wis.) 
Club: Milwaukee 
College: Lewis

Jack Cole 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: MB 
High School: Campolindo (Moraga, Calif.) 
Club: Diablo 
College: Pepperdine

Woody Cook 
Height: 6'3" 
Position: OH/Opp. 
High School: Oak Park (Calif.) 
Club: Southern California Volleyball Club 
College: USC

T.J. DeFalco 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: OH 
High School: Huntington Beach (Calif.) 
Club: The HBC 
College: Long Beach State

>> Read more about Fab 50 headliner T.J. DeFalco 

Alex Dickmann 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: Opp. 
High School: Addison Trail (Addison, Ill.) 
Club: Sports Performance 
College: IPFW

Jason Donorovich 
Height: 6'8" 
Position: OH/Opp. 
High School: Lockport (N.Y.) 
Club: Eden 
College: Penn State

Matt Douglas 
Height: 5'9" 
Position: L 
High School: Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.) 
Club: Southern California Volleyball Club 
College: USC

Will Eichel 
Height: 6'5" 
Position: S 
High School: St. Charles Prep (Bexley, Ohio) 
Club: Vanguard 
College: Ohio State

Bryant Ekstein 
Height: 6'5" 
Position: MB 
High School: Landstown (Virginia Beach, Va.) 
Club: Coastal 
College: George Mason

Kyle Ensing 
Height: 6'6" 
Position: S/Opp. 
High School: Valencia (Calif.) 
Club: Bones 
College: Long Beach State

Jordan Ewert 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: OH 
High School: Deer Valley (Antioch, Calif.) 
Club: Pacific Rim 
College: Stanford

Michael Fisher 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: OH 
High School: Cumberland Valley (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) 
Club: Yorktowne 
College: Pepperdine

Grant Friedman 
Height: 6'5" 
Position: OH 
High School: Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo, Calif.) 
Club: Balboa Bay 
College: UC Irvine

Patrick Gasman 
Height: 6'9" 
Position: MB/Opp. 
High School: Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.) 
Club: Pacific Rim 
College: Hawaii

Jonah Kay 
Height: 6'6" 
Position: MB 
High School: Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, Calif.) 
Club: Coast 
College: UCLA

Matt Klassen 
Height: 6'5" 
Position: OH/Opp. 
High School: Brookfield East (Wis.) 
Club: Milwaukee 
College: Stanford

Dane Leclair 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: S 
High School: McQuaid Jesuit (Rochester, N.Y.) 
Club: Pace Bootlegger 
College: Loyola

Kimball Leituala 
Height: 6'6" 
Position: MB 
High School: Long Beach Poly (Calif.) 
Club: The HBC 
College: Long Beach State

Schylar Lillethorup 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: S 
High School: Apopka (Fla.) 
Club: Ocean Bay 
College: Northridge

Micah Ma’a 
Height: 6'1" 
Position: S 
High School: Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii) 
Club: Ku’ikahi 
College: UCLA

Collin Mahan 
Height: 6'5" 
Position: OH 
High School: Victor (N.Y.) 
Club: Pace Bootlegger 
College: Loyola

Parker Maki 
Height: 6'5" 
Position: OH 
High School: Newbury Park (Calif.) 
Club: Bones 
College: Northridge

Blake Markland 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: OH/Opp. 
High School: Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) 
Club: The HBC 
College: USC

Markus Melbardis 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: OH 
High School: Leigh (San Jose, Calif.) 
Club: Bay to Bay 
College: Loyola

Frank Melvin 
Height: 6'5" 
Position: OH 
High School: Schuylkill Valley (Leesport, Pa.) 
Club: Yorktowne 
College: Penn State

Calvin Mende 
Height: 6'11" 
Position: Opp. 
High School: Redlands (Calif.) 
Club: Oasis 
College: Penn State

Augie Miller 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: MB 
High School: Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.) 
Club: Balboa Bay 
College: Pepperdine

Dylan Missry 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: OH 
High School: Sachem North (Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.) 
Club: Long Island 
College: UCLA

Ryan Moss 
Height: 6'8" 
Position: OH 
High School: Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.) 
Club: Balboa Bay 
College: USC

Paul Narup 
Height: 6'7" 
Position: MB 
High School: De Smet Jesuit (St. Louis, Mo.) 
Club: High Performance STL 
College: Loyola

Branden Oberender 
Height: 6'7" 
Position: MB 
High School: Royal (Simi Valley, Calif.) 
Club: Bones 
College: BYU

Kysen Olsen 
Height: 6'3" 
Position: OH/Opp. 
High School: Scripps Ranch (San Diego, Calif.) 
Club: Coast 
College: Long Beach State

Brandon Rattray 
Height: 6'5" 
Position: OH 
High School: Bernardo (San Diego, Calif.) 
Club: San Diego Volleyball Club Seaside 
College: Hawaii

Tyler Resnick 
Height: 6'8" 
Position: MB 
High School: Newbury Park (Calif.) 
Club: Bones 
College: USC

Brett Rosenmeier 
Height: 6'5" 
Position: OH 
High School: Frank W. Cox (Virginia Beach, Va.) 
Club: Coastal 
College: Hawaii

Corry Short 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: OH 
High School: Cardinal Gibbons (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) 
Club: Ocean Bay 
College: Princeton

Ryan Smith 
Height: 6'7" 
Position: OH/Opp. 
High School: Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.) 
Club: Pacific Rim 
College: Stanford

Dalton Solbrig 
Height: 6'6" 
Position: OH 
High School: Lakes (Lake Villa, Ill.) 
Club: Adversity 
College: Hawaii

Joshua Tuaniga 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: S 
High School: St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) 
Club: The HBC 
College: Long Beach State

Aaron Turner 
Height: 6'3" 
Position: OH/Opp. 
High School: Waukesha West (Wis.) 
Club: Milwaukee 
College: Lewis

William Tischler 
Height: 6'7" 
Position: OH 
High School: Downers Grove South (Ill.) 
Club: Sports Performance 
College: Cal Baptist

Michael Wexter 
Height: 6'4" 
Position: S 
High School: Lincoln-Way West (New Lenox, Ill.) 
Club: Ultimate 
College: Pepperdine

Joe Worsley 
Height: 6'0" 
Position: S 
High School: Campolindo (Moraga, Calif.) 
Club: Pacific Rim 
College: Hawaii

Matt Younggren 
Height: 6'9" 
Position: MB/Opp. 
High School: Mount Carmel (San Diego, Calif.) 
Club: San Diego Volleyball Club Seaside 
College: UC Irvine

25 Underclassmen to Watch

Name | Height | Position | Year | High School | Club

Eric Beatty | 6'7" | OH | Jr. | Huntington Beach (Calif.) | The HBC

Paul Bischoff | 6'4" | S | Jr. | Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) | Sports Performance

Brad Creamer | 6'5" | MB | Jr. | Frank W. Cox (Virginia Beach, Va.) | Coastal

Matt Ctvrtlik | 6'4" | S | Jr. | Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.) | Balboa Bay

Reese Devilbiss | 6'1" | OH | Jr. | Northeastern (Manchester, Pa.) | Yorktowne

Randy Deweese | 6'6" | S | Jr. | Natomas Prep (Sacramento, Calif.) | Northern California Volleyball Club

Noah Dyer | 6'5" | S/Opp. | Jr. | Saddleback Valley (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) | Balboa Bay

Shawn Hughes | 6'3" | OH | Jr. | University (St. Louis, Mo.) | High Performance STL-VBC

George Huhmann | 6'11" | MB | Jr. | University (St. Louis, Mo.) | High Performance STL-VBC

Jaylen Jasper | 6'6" | OH/Opp. | Soph. | Archbishop Spalding (Severn, Md.) | Annapolis

Sam Kobrine | 6'3" | S/OH | Jr. | Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.) | 949

Kyler Kotsakis | 6'4" | Opp. | Jr. | Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) | Sports Performance

Samuel Lewis | 6'3" | MB | Soph. | Long Beach Poly (Calif.) | High Line 

Lucas Lossone | 6'8" | MB | Jr. | Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) | SCVC

Austin Matautia | 6'4" | OH | Jr. | Moanalua (Honolulu, Hawaii) | Hawaii Elite Southside

Casey McGarry | 6'1" | S/Opp. | Jr. | Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.) | Southern California Volleyball Club

Zach Meyer | 6'4" | OH | Jr. | Wheaton Warrenville South (Ill.) | Sports Performance

Adam Parks | 6'4" | S | Soph. | Oak Park (Calif.) | Spectrum

Kyler Presho-Hartung | 6'7" | MB | Soph. | San Clemente (Calif.) | San Clemente

Griffin Schmit | 6'5" | Opp. | Soph. | Canisius (Buffalo, N.Y.) | Eden

Scott Skarzynski | 6'1" | S/Opp. | Jr. | Webster Schroeder (N.Y.) | Pace Bootlegger

Scott Stadick | 6'10" | MB | Jr. | Watertown (Wis.) | Milwaukee Sting

Matt Szews | 6'6" | Opp. | Jr. | Brookfield East (Wis.) | Milwaukee Sting

Bobby Wilden | 6'7" | MB | Jr. | Briar Woods (Ashburn, Va.) | Northern Virginia Volleyball Association

Kelsey Yogi | 5'6" | L | Jr. | Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii) | Hawaii Elite Southside

Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys volleyball: Zach Yerington, Hamburg
By Keith McShea | News Sports Reporter | @KeithMcSheaBN 
Friday, May 29, 2015

Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys volleyball: Zach Yerington, Hamburg. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)


The #PrepTalkCountdown continues.

We are unveiling the Prep Talk Players of the Year (more than 30 total honorees) as we count down to the Prep Talk Awards, presented by UBMD Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, on June 15 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. See the complete countdown list at the bottom of this post.

* * *

Zach Yerington

School: Hamburg

Year: Senior

Position: 6-foot-5 outside hitter.

#PrepTalkResume: Two-time all-state selection (selected by a state panel), two-time All-Western New York first teamer (selected by area coaches), helped lead Bulldogs to two straight Section VI Division II titles.

Statistics 101: Had 26 kills in three games in a 24-26, 31-33, 20-25 Far West Regional loss to Section V (Rochester area) champion Victor, which went on to win the Division II state championship. All-tournament team selection at Orchard Park, Sweet Home and Hamburg tournaments.

Favorite moment in H.S. competition: "When we beat Eden in the sectional finals this year."

Favorite teammate: Doug Horbachewski.

Toughest opponent: Orchard Park.

Role model: Ryan Johnsen (Hamburg and Nazareth graduate, current club coach).

Pro/college athletes he looks up to: Matt Anderson.

I wouldn't be Prep Talk Player of the Year without ... "my parents, Ryan Johnsen (club coach), Brian Carroll (high school coach)."

When I'm not playing or practicing my sport, I'm ... "studying, hanging out with friends and working out."

What's ahead: He'll play at Ohio State, which finished this past season ranked 10th in the country.

Prep Talk Player of the Year for girls volleyball: Leah Meyer, St. Mary's
By Keith McShea | News Sports Reporter | @KeithMcSheaBN
Friday, May 29, 2015

Prep Talk Player of the Year for girls volleyball: Leah Meyer, St. Mary's. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)


The #PrepTalkCountdown continues.

We are unveiling the Prep Talk Players of the Year (more than 30 total honorees) as we count down to the Prep Talk Awards, presented by UBMD Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, on June 15 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. See the complete countdown list at the bottom of this post.

* * *

Leah Meyer

School: St. Mary's

Year: Senior

Position: 6-foot-3 middle blocker

Twitter: @leahmeyerrr

#PrepTalkResume: Gatorade New York State Player of the Year, MaxPreps second-team All-American, three-time All-Western New York first teamer, three-time Monsignor Martin Association Player of the Year.

Statistics 101: Had 460 kills, 139 digs, 79 blocks and 53 service aces while hitting at a .468 percentage. Helped Lancers to a 47-0-1 record and the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association championship.

Favorite moment in H.S. competition: "Winning states senior year."

Favorite teammate: Ashley Drzymala.

Toughest opponent: Eden.

Role model: My parents.

Pro/college athletes he looks up to: Misty May Treanor.

I wouldn't be Prep Talk Player of the Year without ... "my coaches (both club and high school), my parents and sisters (Kristin and Caitlyn), my trainer (Rick Williamson for helping me come back from my injury!), all of my teammates, teachers and everyone who has supported me."

When I'm not playing or practicing my sport, I'm ... "relaxing and exercising."

What's ahead: She'll play at one of the top programs in the country in Duke. She verbally committed to the Blue Devils as a sophomore.

Huntington Beach Wins CIF Southern Section Crown
The Oilers earned their third consecutive Southern Section crown over Corona Del Mar
Ed Chan, Volleyball Magazine
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Huntington Beach's Alex Wolf swings over the Corona Del Mar block


The Huntington Beach Oilers outlasted the Corona Del Mar Sea Kings to take their third consecutive California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section crown.

Huntington Beach once again asserted their dominance in the CIF Southern Section Division I finals at Cerritos College in Norwalk on Saturday. The undefeated Oilers overcame a one game deficit to win the match 22-25, 25-15, 25-22, 26-28, 15-8. The Oilers were led by U.S. Men’s National Team candidate T.J. DeFalco's 41 kills and senior setter Josh Tuaniga's 63 assists. The win is Huntington Beach's 101st section win in a row. 

Huntington Beach now advances to the CIF Regional tournament, where they will take on Palisades at home on Tuesday, May 26.

Loyola Repeats as NCAA Men's Volleyball National Champs
Ramblers defeat Lewis in marathon five-set match

Lee Feinswog Volleyball Magazine
Tuesday, May 10, 2015


Loyola head coach Shane Davis with wife Andrea and daughter Jordyn.


PALO ALTO, Calif. — Cody Caldwell, the senior outside hitter from Newport Beach, the California kid whom his coach credited for single-handedly starting the turnaround for Loyola that eventually led back-to-back championships, simply shook his head.

“It was the gnarliest match I’ve ever played in,” Caldwell said. “I can’t stop saying that. I don’t know what else to say.”

Nor did anyone else after everyone finally caught their respective breaths and their hearts settled back down out of their throats. How could you describe what went down Saturday night in Maples Pavilion on the campus of Stanford University other than to recognize that it will go down in history as one of the greatest men’s college volleyball matches ever, if for no other reason the final score:

25-21 Lewis.

25-23 Loyola.

25-15 Loyola.

27-25 Lewis.

And, finally, 23-21 Loyola, ending when the block of Nick Olson and Ricky Gevis found the spike of Lewis’ Greg Petty, stuffed it to the floor, and the NCAA men’s volleyball championship was in the books.

Yes, the epicenter of the men’s college game now is centered squarely on northern Illinois, where this incredible rivalry played out in full form. Loyola from the middle of Chicago. Lewis from suburban Romeoville. Twice they played in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association regular season and twice Lewis won. Then a week ago Loyola did what it had done the previous two years, beat Lewis in the MIVA title match.

Finally, with everything on the line, five sets weren’t good enough. 

But the Ramblers, who finished their season 28-2, were prepared.

“Every single practice at the end we play a game five,” Loyola coach Shane Davis said. “We do it every single practice so when we get into a game-five situation we are confident and we feel ready to go and very comfortable.”

That fifth and deciding first-to-15-point game went on and on, especially after Lewis, down 14-11, rallied to take a 15-14 lead. It was one of three chances the Flyers had to win their first title since 2003, albeit one the school vacated. But Loyola, down 22-21, tied it on one of Caldwell’s 11 kills as he tooled the block. Then Caldwell blocked Lewis’ Eric Fitterer, setting up the penultimate point that gave the MIVA its third title in five years. Ohio State won it all in 2011, UC Irvine went back to back in 2012 and ’13, and then last year Loyola won the school’s second national championship ever, a mere 51 years after winning it all in basketball.

That title on May 4, 2014, came just two days before Andrea Davis, the wife of Shane Davis, had their second child. So just more than a year later, they won it again. Andrea, a Chicago native like Shane, basked in the Ramblers’ victory, holding little 1-year-old Jordyn on her hip.

“I can’t express the pride,” she said. “This team is just incredible. And Shane—I married a winner for sure.”

They’ve been married eight years and volleyball is a full-time lifestyle for them. Andrea still runs their club volleyball program, D1, where they happened to hire Dan Friend when he came to Chicago. Friend, of course, is the 11th-year coach of Lewis.

“This match was incredible,” Andrea Davis said. “And Dan Friend is one of our good friends, to see them both battle…” She smiled and paused. “This had to be one of the greatest finals in the history of men’s volleyball.”

It sure was for her husband.

“This one felt a lot better than last year’s national championship. This was much more difficult,” Davis said.

“The repeat was so tough. I think going into this year we didn’t know what to expect, with all the new guys, all the hard work, all the adversity we faced throughout the season with all the injuries and rookies on the court. Getting to this point was really tough.”

Even if you’d never seen volleyball, the match that took 2 hours, 38, minutes capped by an epic fifth game that had more ups and downs than the craziest ride at Disney, was something to behold.

“You couldn’t have paid for better entertainment in terms of 18 bucks, if that was the ticket price,” Friend said. “It was a great show, just a great volleyball match, back and forth and I was real excited to be a part of that.”

Al Scates, who retired in 2013 after a 50-year coaching career at UCLA that included winning 19 NCAA titles, is the only other coach to have won back-to-back NCAA crowns. 

“It was among the best,” Scates said of the match. “That was so entertaining.

“I loved seeing the photographers run from side to side to try to get the final shot. The fans were standing. It was exciting. It was beautiful.”

Not for Lewis, of course, but Friend realizes that one day even his players will realize it was special.

“I think we gave you a match to remember for a long, long time for atmosphere and energy,” Friend said. “I think it will be a fun one to go back and talk about and watch.”

Petty, Lewis’ senior leader who led all players with 23 kills, said he had never played “in anything with the intensity of that match.”

His fellow senior Geoff Powell finished with 20 kills and like Petty four block assists. Their team, which finished 27-4, was out-blocked 20.5 to 13.5 and out-hit as well, .260 to .219.

“Holy smokes. The adrenaline,” Davis marveled. “The crowd was in it on every single play. There wasn’t a home or away crowd. Everything would go silent and everything slows down a little bit and it was just cool to see their guy go at our guy.”

Junior outside Thomas Jaeschke, who it’s safe to say will be in the Olympic-roster mix someday, most likely in 2020, led Loyola with 20 kills, four in the last set. He’s from Wheaton, outside Chicago, and was joined this year by fellow Wheaton native freshman middle Jeff Jendryk, who had 17 kills, seven block assists, and a solo, and frankly was as big as a first-year college kid could have been on that stage. The other middle, Olson, had 10 kills, three in the fifth set.

“It’s so great to have middles who can put the ball away like Nick and Jeff do and at such a high efficiency,” Jaeschke said. “Jeff hit .500 tonight but it’s not like that’s new. He’s done that all season.”

It was suggested to Jendryk that he doesn’t lack for confidence and he and his teammates laughed.

“That’s very true,” Jendryk said. “As soon as I step on the court my nerves are gone. It’s just doing what I know how to do. Focus and focus on winning.”

Winning is what Davis does and this victory puts him into the upper echelon, especially since he took over at his alma mater 12 years ago at the age of just 23. He and his assistants, Mark Hulse and Kris Berzins and volunteer Ben Wilson are obviously loved by the players.

“This is a product of us working hard for them and them working for us,” Jaeschke said.

“He puts his whole life into this program,” Caldwell said of Davis. “He’s put in unthinkable time and effort into this program, so this has to be so satisfying. It’s satisfying for me to watch him go through that.”

Davis doesn’t accept praise easily, but knows he’s done something special. He coached that way, too, at one point simply putting his clipboard on the bench and spending his time cheering on his kids.

“It was an unbelievable,” he said. “That match could have gone either way 20 different times.”

They’ll go back to Chicago and celebrate and Lewis will regroup and you can just bet that the MIVA will be in the mix again next year. Which was already on the minds of the Ramblers.

“The first thing Jeff said to me when I gave him a hug,” Jaeschke said, “was ‘Let’s get another one.’

“It’s a never-ending hunger, never-ending work. We’re not going to stop.”

And that’s a gnarly thought.

NCAA Final Loyola v. Lewis (2015-5-9)
The Line Shot
Tuesday, May 9, 2015

Loyola wins the NCAA Men's Volleyball Championship match 3-2 against Lewis (21-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-27, 23-21).



Lipsitz and Stang enter North Athletic Wall of Honor
Amherst Bee
Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Williamsville North’s Athletic Wall of Honor’s 2015 recipients include, from left: first row — Sandy Lorenzo (daughter of the late Jack Hartman), Pat Hartman (wife of the late Jack Hartman), Debbie Romaneo (daughter of the late Jack Hartman), Olivia Stang (wife of the late Greg Stang) Jason Stang, Greg Brown, Max Lipsitz, Casey Matthews, Ed Fritz, Steve Ferenczy, and Carla Kinyon Frederick. Don Testa is missing from the photo.


Lipsitz and Stang among nine individuals that were inducted into the Williamsville North High School’s Athletic Wall of Honor on Friday, Feb. 13.

Max Lipsitz 

Lipsitz, a 2006 graduate, is the school’s record holder for blocked shots in basketball, and blocks and kills in volleyball.

Lipsitz went on to play volleyball for Penn State University, becoming a national champion in 2008.

Lipsitz earned several academic and athletic honors during his tenure at Penn State and played professional volleyball for two years in Switzerland and Puerto Rico. 

Jason Stang 

Stang, a 1990 graduate, was a team captain in basketball and volleyball at North.

He went on to play volleyball at George Mason University, where he was seventh in the nation in hitting and 18th in the nation blocking.

Stang was selected to the IPFW Classic All-Tournament Team, and the 1995 All-Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association team. 

UB volleyball coach to WVU
Buffalo News
Monday, March 2, 2015

UB announced Monday that head women’s volleyball coach Reed Sunahara has resigned to take the same position at West Virginia.

Sunahara compiled a 17-15 record in his one season with the Bulls. He had spent two years as an assistant with the U.S. National Team volleyball before joining UB. Sunahara joined the national team after 11 seasons at Cincinnati, where he was twice Big East Coach of the Year.

Hawaii Men's Volleyball on the Chopping Block?
UH's athletic department proposes cuts to close budget gap

Team VBM
Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Hawaii's Brook Sedore Hawaii Athletics


Last week, the University of Hawaii Athletics Department, which is struggling with a multi-million dollar budget deficit, announced three proposals to help close its budget gap. 

One proposal would cut men’s and women’s swimming and diving and co-ed sailing teams, saving the department around $1.4 million. Another would cut women’s swimming and diving, women’s sailing, co-ed sailing, and the football program; however, this option actually results in a loss of around $1.9 million since the football program makes money for the department. The third option would cut men’s volleyball, women’s sailing, and co-ed sailing, but only save the department around $500,000. 

All coaches and athletes involved fear for their sports and their teams, but with the loss of Pacific’s men’s volleyball team last year, the elimination of Hawaii’s men’s volleyball program would even further limit the Division I playing opportunities for male athletes coming out of high school.

Men’s NCAA Volleyball Update
Recapping the first month of men's college volleyball

Megan Kaplon NCAA
Monday, February 2, 2015


Penn State middle Matt Seifert beats the Lewis block in the second play-in. Julie and Ed Chan


A month into the NCAA men’s volleyball season, teams jockey for a good position in the rankings as they look ahead to conference competition. In case you missed it, we’ll recap all you need to know about what happened in men’s college volleyball in January, in no particular order.

Reigning national runner-up Stanford entered the season tied for 10th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll but has struggled to replace the five seniors that graduated in 2014 and suffered from a few key injuries early on. The 3-6 Cardinal only have wins over DIII UC Santa Cruz and unranked Cal Baptist and Cal State Northridge. This past weekend, Stanford suffered two sweeps at the hands of No. 9 UCLA and No. 8 UC Santa Barbara. 

No. 4 Pepperdine, on the other hand, finished the final weekend of January with wins over those same two ranked opponents. Led by senior libero Brennan Anderson in the win over UCSB, the Waves collected 47 digs, 19 of which Anderson scooped up to tie the rally-scoring era record for most digs in a match. Another senior Wave, Josh Taylor, took the reigns in the win over UCLA, leading the team in kills (12) and blocks (5). The 8-1 Pepperdine team’s only loss came at the hands of No. 2 USC on Jan. 16.

Princeton, which received votes in this week’s AVCA Poll, started its season with two separate trips out to California. The Tigers suffered losses to perpetual West Coast powerhouses Long Beach State, UCLA, UCSB, and UC Irvine, but pulled off a couple good wins over Cal State Northridge and UC San Diego. Senior outside hitter Cody Kessel leads the Tigers with 80 kills in the team’s six matches so far this season. Princeton will begin its EIVA schedule on Friday with a match against in-state rivals New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Reigning champ Loyola, ranked No. 1 since the first week of the season, started the year with wins over BYU and Stanford in Palo Alto, and a month in the Ramblers continue to go strong, heading into their conference schedule 7-0 after two straight-set wins over Sacred Heart and Barton College this past weekend. Freshman Ben Plaisted has stepped in for graduated First Team All-American Joe Smalzer on the right side, collecting a team-high 12 kills in the 3-0 win over Sacred Heart on Friday.

USC, also 7-0 a month into the season, boasts big wins over Pepperdine and UC Irvine. The Trojans will play No. 6 Hawaii twice this weekend. Christopher Orenic, a redshirt sophomore from Manhattan Beach, California, leads the team with 71 kills.

Division II squad Lewis, ranked third in the latest DI-II poll, has recorded significant wins over UC Irvine, Stanford, and Penn State, with its only loss coming at the hands of BYU. Senior Greg Petty leads the team in kills with 90, while fellow seniors Eric Fitterer and Geoff Powell follow not far behind with 88 and 87, respectively. 

UC Irvine, which climbed up into the top four after entering the preseason poll at No. 8, had lost only to Lewis in its season-opener and to USC when it made the trip out to Hawaii over the weekend. After a split with the Wahine, making its overall record 9-3, UCI fell a spot in the poll this week to No. 5. 

Penn State, though boasting men’s national team player and NCAA Player of the Year candidate Aaron Russell on the outside and entering the season ranked No. 3 in the preseason poll, hadn’t won a game until last Friday when the team played Mount Olive. The Nittany Lions collected their second W of the year with a win over Saint Francis on Saturday, and they’ll have another week of non-conference play before starting MIVA competition against Ohio State on Wednesday, Feb. 11.

AVCA Division I-II Men's Week #2 Poll: January 19, 2015
Monday, January 19, 201


Rank School (First-Place Votes) Total Points Adjusted 2015 Record Previous Rank
1 Loyola-Chicago (17) 269 3-0 1
2 Lewis 220 4-1 5
3 UC Irvine 217 5-1 6
4 BYU 216 3-1 7
5 Southern California (1) 208 2-0 8
6 Pepperdine 192 5-1 2
7 Hawai'i 172 5-1 9
8 UC Santa Barbara 147 4-2 3
9 UCLA 128 3-2 4
10 Long Beach State 94 4-1 11
11 IPFW 91 3-2 13
12 Stanford 50 2-2 12
13 Ohio State 49 4-2 14
14 Ball State 42 4-0 NR
15 Penn State 30 0-4 10


Others receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots: CSUN 27; Princeton 6 

One team mentioned on only one ballot for a total of one combined point. 

Dropped Out: CSUN 15 

Next Poll: January 26, 2015

AVCA Division III Men's Coaches Top 15 Preseason Poll: January 13, 2015
Tuesday, January 13, 201


Rank School (First-Place Votes) Total Points Adjusted 2014 Record
1 Juniata (6) 223 29-5
2 Stevens (4) 220 22-10
3 Springfield (6) 216 27-7
4 SUNY New Paltz 184 28-4
5 Carthage 176 23-8
6 Kean 144 26-8
7 UC Santa Cruz 134 14-12
8 Rivier 120 29-7
9 Nazareth 114 15-10
10 Elmira 90 24-10
11 NYU 73 18-11
12 MIT 59 24-7
13 Baruch 56 27-11
14 Stevenson 31 22-9
15 Medaille 28 17-9


Others receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots: Lakeland 25; Dominican 8; Endicott 7; Rutgers-Newark 6; Wentworth 5 

One team mentioned on only one ballot for a total of one combined point. 

Next Poll: January 27

AVCA Division I-II Men's Week #1 Poll: January 12, 2015
Monday, January 12, 201


Rank School (First-Place Votes) Total Points Adjusted 2015 Record Previous Rank
1 Loyola-Chicago (11) 263 2-0 2
2 Pepperdine (7) 259 4-0 1
3 UC Santa Barbara 229 4-0 4
4 UCLA 215 3-0 5
5 Lewis 171 2-1 9
6 UC Irvine 169 3-1 8
7 BYU 163 1-1 6
8 Southern California 144 1-0 7
9 Hawai'i 132 3-1 10
10 Penn State 116 0-2 3
11 Long Beach State 90 3-0 12
12 Stanford 67 1-2 10
13 IPFW 61 1-2 15
14 Ohio State 44 3-2 14
15 CSUN 17 1-2 13


Others receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots: Princeton 15 

Three teams mentioned on only one ballot for a total of five combined points.

Next Poll: January 19, 2015