2016 Berkshire County high school volleyball preview

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Berkshire North

Lee

Coach: John Warner (14th year)

Last year: 19-2, lost to Frontier in Western Mass. championship

Key Returnees: Kendra Williams, senior; Shenna Tyer, senior; Anna Wang, sophomore

Outlook: Last season Lee's domination over Berkshire County continued, as the Wildcats clinched their seventh county championship in the last eight years. The nucleus returns and everything starts with Kendra Williams. The two-time All-Berkshire MVP is back at setter and will have another year to rewrite the Lee record books. The Wildcats moved to a 6-2 last season, freeing up Williams and allowing her to contribute in all aspects of the game. The team must replace Courtney Picard, but Shenna Tyer returns at one hitting spot. Bailey Thomas has a strong presence in the middle. Anha Schlaefer and Haleigh Richardson are strong offensive players. Add in Anna Wang at setter and the team looks poised to make another run at a Western Mass. championship.

Mount Anthony

Coach: Katie Contrada (second year)

Last year: 1-13

Key Returnees: Brianna Legecy, senior; Marleigh Green, senior; Brook Young, senior

Outlook: Mount Anthony enters its second season of varsity play with another year of experience under its belt. Last season was spent focusing on the fundamentals and adjusting to varsity competition after previously playing at the club level in Vermont. Now the team has experienced players hoping to show improvement this season. Coach Katie Contrada said the team has several athletic players that star in other sports for the Patriots. They'll rely on Brianna Legecy, Marleigh Green, Brooke Young, Emma Myers and Jordyn Burke to continue to move the program forward.

Mount Greylock

Coach: John Albano (fourth year)

Last year: 16-5 lost in Western Mass. semifinals

Key Returnees: Dagny Albano, senior; Jenna Benzinger, senior; Serena Chow, senior

Outlook: Is this the year Mount Greylock can break through and reach the Western Mass. championship game? The Mounties lost in the Western Mass. semifinals the last two years, and three of their five losses last season came against Lee. However, this year's team is talented and experienced. All-Berkshire performers Dagny Albano and Jenna Benzinger return at setter and in the middle, respectively. Benzinger, a Brown basketball commit, has great size in the middle and led the team in blocks last season. Albano has over 1,000 career assists, and Serena Chow uses her strong spiking ability to generate kills. Caroline Hadley, Autumn Delory and Carly Munzer will also be key contributors.

Pittsfield

Coach: Brian Lawton (24th year)

Last season: 9-10, lost in Western Mass. first round

Key Returnees: Riley Nichols, senior; Katara Mullett, senior; Anna Quinto, junior.

Outlook: Pittsfield relied on a senior-heavy team to propel it to the Western Mass. tournament, but now those players are gone and new players must step into bigger roles. All-Berkshire performers Michaela LeBlanc and Emily Koldys are two big losses for the Generals, taking a combined 260 kills and 174 digs with them. Riley Nichols is a returning starter at setter. Nicole LaPierre and Katara Mullett take over as outside hitters. Anna Quinto, Kamea Quetti will have key roles in the middle as well.

Wahconah

Coach: Dave Lussier (fifth year)

Last season: 14-5, lost in Western Mass. quarterfinals

Key Returnees: Emma Parkington, junior; Lucy Sears, senior; Fran Gigliotti, junior

Outlook: Wahconah was one set away from a Western Mass. semifinals appearance, but this year's team will need new faces to contribute in order to duplicate last year's success, as the core of Sara Lefreniere, Juli McBain, Chloe Warren and Hailey Parker have all graduated. Emma Parkington returns as one of the main hitters. Fran Gigliotti and Lucy Sears will be the setters this season, and Mikayla Defoe and Kelsey Lefreniere will man the middle. Despite the roster turnover, Lussier said the new players should be comfortable at the varsity level, after playing well at the junior varsity level last season.

Berkshire South

Lenox

Coach: Bessena Cabe (third year)

Last year: 8-9

Key Returnees: Anna Lynch, junior; Kasey Vallee, junior; Riley Burke, junior

Outlook: The Millionaires were one game away from earning a Western Mass. tournament berth last season, and they return a young but experienced group looking to get back into the postseason. Replacing All-Eagle selection Cami Smachetti will crucial, however, as her all-around affected the team in many ways. All-League selections Anna Lynch and Kasey Valle return at libero and setter, respectively. Hitter Victori Vittori is the lone senior on the team. She'll be flanked by Morgan Hayden, and Riley Burke brings a strong defensive presence as well.

Monument Mountain

Coach: Kyle Henry (third year)

Last year: 5-11

Key Returnees: Lyssa Richards, senior; Alyssa Mack, junior; Danielle Sweet, junior

Outlook: Monument Mountain had a young team last season, and the Spartans will have another youthful team this year. They showed improvement as the season progressed, highlighted by a 3-1 win over Lenox, but now the Spartans must replace standouts Brianna Davis and Siobhan Yaple. Senior Lyssa Richards will be leading the way at setter. Alyssa Mack has good presence in the middle and Danielle Sweet will provide kills at hitter. Daina Henry, Megan Race and Maria Tucker are seniors with limited experience, so a big contributions from newcomers or underclassmen is very likely.

Mount Everett

Coach: Jenn Otte (first year)

Last year: 10-9, lost in Western Mass. first round

Key Returnees: Kayla Krom, senior; Chandler DeGrenier, senior; Sarah Balestro, senior.

Outlook: Former coach Dennis Sullivan retired after 20 years of coaching, leaving a talented group to former assistant and new head coach Jenn Otte. Otte spent the last three years coaching with Sullivan, so she'll have familiarity with the roster heading into her first year. In addition to knowing the strength and weaknesses of her players, Otte said that she wants to focus on player development. All-Berkshire selection Kayla Krom returns. She uses her athletic ability to rack up kills as a hitter. Senior setters Chandler DeGrenier and Sarah Balestro also return. Sophomore Emma Mitchell will be in the mix at setter as well. Maria DeManbey and Cassandra Rodriguez will also be key contributors.

St. Joseph

Coach: Pete Strack (ninth year)

Last year: 2-16

Key Returnees: Emily Hamilton sophomore; Rebekah Baker senior

Outlook: The St. Joseph volleyball team will be slightly undermanned this season, as the Crusaders are hoping to have about eight players on the roster. Returners Emily Hamilton and Rebekah will lead the way, as they're the two most experienced players on the team. Coach Pete Strack said he's spent a lot of time teaching the fundamentals, and he's interested to see how his new players will react in a game situation. Freshmen Hannah Chrzanowski and Corinna Carroll will see a lot of playing time. The Crusaders also have two transfers from Spain: Cristina Sanjuar and Matui Garcia-Marima. Sophomore Chance Phillips brings athleticism to the back row and fellow sophomore Aubery Boissy will contribute as well.

Taconic

Coach: Jenn Doerle (ninth year)

Last year: 8-12, lost in Western Mass. first round

Key Returnees: Julia Kalinowsky seniors; Jasmine Rodrgiuez, seniors; Roselyn Vega senior, outside;

Outlook: Despite having a losing record last season, Taconic coach Jenn Doerle said earning a Western Mass. berth gave her players added confidence heading into the season. Doerle added that the team's stronger and more experienced, and spent the offseason improving its passing. Seven seniors return, led by All-Berkshire performer Julia Kalinowsky. Jasmine Rodriguez and Lilly Garrity return in the middle. Roselyn Vega and Maddie Quinto bring strong athleticism to the outside.


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