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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 29, 2009

Blackbird volleyball team is making winning a routine again

By Jordan J. Michael

VOORHEESVILLE –– The competition for the Blackbirds boys’ volleyball team is lacking. But winning never gets old.

“I think our league could use a little more competition, but there’s only six teams,” said Head Coach Tom Kurkjian, who also coaches boys’ and girls’ tennis for Voorheesville. “We need to find a way to get more schools involved with the sport.”

The Blackbirds are 6-0 in the Central Hudson Valley League after a straight sets win over Germantown last Thursday, 25-16, 25-19, and 25-16. The team was victorious without Kurkjian being there.

“Joe Sapienza, our athletic director, took over the coaching responsibilities,” said Kurkjian, who was out of town during the match. “I was joking with him when I got back. I congratulated him on his perfect volleyball coaching record.”

Kurkjian took on coaching responsibilities in 2002 and the team played the second half of the season. “There was no coach, but these triplets were really into volleyball,” he said. “We played six games and only won one.”

Adrian, Ian, and Austin Michalski eventually led Voorheesville to two consecutive sectional titles in 2005 and 2006. The program sunk after the triplets graduated.

“We lost nine out of 10 games the next season,” said Kurkjian. “All the talent was gone and no one wanted to be involved with volleyball.”

The Blackbirds are back to its winning ways this season after once again earning a league title last year. The team has nine seniors on the roster.

“Our destination is sectional finals,” Kurkjian said. “I would be disappointed if we didn’t go far. These players have improved enough to do it.”

Boys’ volleyball has seen a huge rule change for this season. Instead of points being earned only while a team is on serve, a team can score at any moment. Now, a team can lose a serve and lose a point at the same time.

“I think this new rule severely hurts the game because now there’s no changeover,” said Kurkjian. “It’s like watching really bad tennis. Servers don’t really have a chance.”

Voorheesville is led by Garrett Weininger, Kevin Tesch, Connor Tompkins, and Will Miranda. Ryan Gatt, Michael Brennan, and John Maddaloni have been nice additions to the team.

“Weininger is a true volleyball player and Tompkins is our best server,” Kurkjian said. “Brennan left basketball to try out for volleyball; oddly enough. He found a hidden talent. Maddaloni is our libero, which is a defensive specialist. He’s quick and fearless.”

The Blackbirds’ game plan is to go undefeated and hope for a good draw in the playoffs. “I don’t think we’ll lose, I’m comfortable saying that,” said Kurkjian. “But volleyball is like a one-room schoolhouse. There is no real preparation.”

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