2017 Berkshire County high school volleyball preview capsules
Coach: Meghan Albert (First year)
Last year: 17-3, won Berkshire North, lost in Western Mass. Division III semifinals.
Key Returnees: Maddie Albert, junior; Marley Buffis, junior; Taylor Hoffstedt, senior.
Outlook: The defending Berkshire North champion Mounties enter the season with a new head coach and new players in key roles.
The Mounties must replace All-Berkshire selections Dagny Albano, Jenna Benzinger and Serena Chow. The trio accounted for more than 400 kills and about 350 assists combined. Maddie Albert and Buffis are experienced players that should shoulder the load left by the graduating seniors. Hoffstedt, Autumn DeLorey and Caroline Hadley also received playing time last season. Replacing the presence of Benzinger inside and the defense of Albano is no small task, but with experienced players on a team that took powerhouse Frontier within one game of advancing to the Western Mass. final, these players are battle tested and know what it takes to make another deep tournament run.
Coach: John Warner (15th year)
Last year: 20-3, lost in Western Mass. Division III final
Key Returnees: Bailey Thomas junior; Ahna Schlaefer, senior; Anna Wang, junior
Outlook: For just the second time in eight years, the Wildcats did not take home a Berkshire North title. They still went deep in the tournament behind an accomplished senior class, and the 'Cats were points away from finally knocking off Frontier in the Division III final. This season, Lee returns with another talented group, eager to take another shot at the Red Hawks. They must two-time All-Berkshire MVP Kendra Williams and last year's kill leader Shenna Tyer, but the cupboard is not bare. Thomas is an imposing presence at the net, capable of big spikes and blocks. Schlaefer is another strong offensive player and Wang led the team in digs last season. Surianna Lee, Jayla Spears, Sarah Cook and Lydia Morawiec will also be key contributors.
Coach: Brian Lawton (25th year)
Last year: 15-7, lost in Western Mass. Division II quarterfinals
Key Returnees: Danielle LeBlanc, senior; Kamea Quetti, senior; Anna Quinto, senior.
Outlook: The Generals return an experienced team, that could have its depth tested after losing four key seniors. All-Berkshire selections Riley Nichols and Katara Mullett are gone, taking with them about 450 assists and strong leadership ability. LeBlanc is an experienced player with a strong serve. Mya Manson is stepping into a new role as the setter after playing a backup role last season. One clear area of strength for Pittsfield is its height. Quetti and Quinto are long, athletic players that bring offense and blocking up front. Nadine Bello, Lauren Mazzeo and Gabby Dimassimo are all experienced seniors.
Coach: Dave Lussier (sixth year)
Last season: 11-10, lost in Western Mass. Division III first round.
Key Returnees: Francesca Gigliotti, senior; Emma Parkington, senior; Jess Warren senior.
After just squeaking into the tournament as a 10th seed last season, the Warriors enter the new year poised to make a leap up the Berkshire North and Division III standings. They return All-Berkshire selection Parkington, one of the most athletic outside hitters in the county. She led the team in kills, aces and blocks. She finished third in digs and assists. Warren returns at libero. Gigliotti (setter) and Kelsey LaFreniere (middle) are also experienced returning players. Depth is one clear strength of the Warriors. The entire roster is filled with upperclassmen, which should allow them to hit the ground running to start the season. Junior Cassie Tobler brings height to the middle. Laiken Cornwell-L'hote will play opposite Parkington at hitter.
Coach: Stephanie Perna (first year)
Last Season: 1-12
Key Returnees: Mackenzie Mayhew, senior; Kristin Murray, senior; Jonna Loomis, senior.
Outlook: Entering its third year at the varsity level, Mount Anthony is hoping to continue to improve as a program. The Patriots notched only one win each of the last two seasons, but most the current seniors now have two full years of varsity experience under their belts. Mayhew was primarily a setter last season, now she'll be used as more of an all-around player, contributing as a hitter and in the back row. Perna said Murray's worked hard in the offseason to improve her game. Loomis brings height up front. The Pats' are expecting to get contributions from two first-time players as well. Junior Jaiden Guetti is getting her first taste of volleyball. Sophomore Emily O'Brien, an accomplished softball player, is also competing on the hardwood for the first time.
Coach: Bessena Cabe (fourth year)
Last Season: 16-4, lost in Western Mass Division III semifinals.
Key Returnees: Bombee Lahart, sophomore; Morgan Levesque, senior; Anna Lynch, senior.
Outlook: The 2016 Lenox squad showed impressive improvement, going from eight wins in 2015 to 16 wins and a Western Mass. playoff berth last season.
The Millionaires have an intriguing mix of experienced and youthful players on a squad looking to take the next step as a program. All-Berkshire selection Lynch returns for her final season. She's a strong all-around player with a consistent serve. Bombee Lahart is a talented underclassman on the outside. She generates great velocity on her spikes. Levesque and senior Kasey Vallee are two battle-tested returning players.
Sophomore Kayanna Black is another athletic hitter on the outside. Elena Crane is a first-year volleyball player with strong defensive skills.
Coach: Kyle Henry (fourth year)
Last Season: 5-9
Key Returnees: Alyssa Mack, senior; Alexa Troiano, senior; Isabelle Whalen, senior.
Outlook: The Monument Mountain volleyball team returns an experienced squad that's looking to make the tournament for the first time under Henry.
Mack and Troiano are experienced returners. Mack will hold down the middle. Troiano is an athletic all-around player. Whalen will be a setter.
Each of Monument's senior leaders are multi-sport athletes. Henry said having good athletes is always a luxury, especially with so many movements that are unique to volleyball. Junior Grace VanSant is another setter. Henry said she worked hard to improve her game in the offseason. Henry added that he's hoping improved teamwork and chemistry on and off the court will yield improved results in the win column.
Coach: Dennis Sullivan (first year, second stint)
Last Season: 3-14
Key Returnees: Faith Angell sophomore; Ashley Atwood, sophomore, Alissa Rathbun, sophomore,
Outlook: After one year away from the team, former head coach Sullivan returns, bringing 20 years of coaching experience. He inherits a young team, but several players have varsity experience. The Eagles must replace All-South selections Chandler DeGrenier and Maria DeManbey. Angell and Atwood have strong serves. Rathbun is a strong all-around player. Sullivan told The Eagle after their first game against Pittsfield, that his team is already showing improvement.
Coach: Jenn Doerle (10th year)
Last Season: 7-12, lost in Western Mass. Division II first round.
Key Returnees: Delaney Ivas, junior; Rachel Williams, senior; Tyler Williamson, senior.
Outlook: Taconic has the rare distinction of coming off two straight losing, but Western Mass. tournament qualifying seasons. The Braves must replace a trio of talented hitters in Roselyn Vega, Maddie Quinto and Jasmine Rodriguez. They lost six seniors totals. Sophomore Mikayla Moss will provide offense as a hitter. Ivas will be looked to for offense as a middle hitter. Williams returns at setter. Williamson will play in the back row. Doerle stressed strong passing and the serve-receive game as areas to improve on heading into the season.
Reach sports writer Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252 or @TheAkeemGlaspie.
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