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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 19, 2009

Local volleyball teams looking for a brighter future

By Jordan J. Michael

Even though the three varsity volleyball teams from Guilderland and Berne-Knox-Westerlo didn’t win many matches, they tried to have fun.

The Dutchmen, Lady Dutch, and Lady Bulldogs finished the 2009 season with a combined record of 14-54. That may seem like a sad figure for local volleyball, but the teams did try very hard to win.

“A lot of our matches could have gone either way,” said Lady Dutch Head Coach Jessica Allen. Her team ended with a 1-15 record in the Suburban Council. “We lost most of our games by six points or less. It was really close all the time. I think the main focus was to have fun and develop skills. The girls were just happy to be on the team.”

Guilderland plays in a very competitive league and its lone win came against Averill Park on Sept. 25 in five games. “The Suburban [Council] is a tough place to live,” Allen said. “You have teams like Burnt Hills and Bethlehem who are always winning.”

Andrea Schwartz, Brittany Valentino, and Rebecca Vega were the three starting seniors. Valentino was named team MVP and Liz Tapler, Mary Kelly, and freshman setter Allison Van Doren rounded out the starting lineup.

“They were a very respectful and hard-working team,” said Allen.

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment for the Lady Dutch in 2009 was raising $1,188.91 for the American Cancer Society in October. Thirty-eight girls from the freshman, junior varsity, and varsity teams had one week to get sponsors for the Servathon. The players had two days to collect the money.

“I’m so proud of the girls because they’re always the first people to lend a hand,” Allen said. “It was a nice way to get everyone involved and they had a chance to have fun in practice in a different kind of way.”

On Oct. 14, the girls served for 10 minutes in practice and the good serves were counted towards the fund raiser. They took the money to Queensbury for the “Power of Pink” Tournament on Oct. 17 and received a trophy for raising the most money.

“They learned how to help the community on their own,” said Allen. The trophy will be displayed at Guilderland High School for a year and the team gets an automatic invitation to the tournament next season. “They took ownership of the cause. I hope they’re proud of themselves.”

Downward dog

The BKW girls finished the season with a 4-11 record in the Western Athletic Conference and 6-23 overall. The team had two wins over Middleburgh and one win a piece against Schoharie and Fort Plain.

Head Coach Jim Lemire replaced long-time coach Cathy Allen in 2008. Lemire has been a teacher at BKW since 1990 and always wanted to coach the volleyball team.

“It’s always neat to put your own stamp on a program,” said Lemire. “There weren’t many girls interested in the game when I got here so I tried to pump up the morale. Last year was tough, but I think we’ll get more powerful as the years progress.”

Christina North was the only sophomore to make the First All-Star Team and she was also voted co-defensive player of the year in the WAC. North led the Bulldogs in kills (268), serve percentage (94 percent), hitting efficiency (.204), passing percentage (87 percent), digs (278), and blocks (68).

Senior starter Jackie Saddlemire and sophomore Danielle Kruger were both named to the Second All-Star Team. Kruger set a school record in aces with 105. Sophomore Jean Farnam had 68 blocks and 193 kills.

“We have some talented kids coming back and they’re still young,” said Lemire.

Lemire has been involved with volleyball for over 30 years and coached the Saint Rose College Women’s team in the early 1990s. He went on to coach the Bethlehem boys’ team from 1996 to 2006 and won seven league titles.

“It takes at least three years for players that I coach to figure me and my ideas out,” Lemire said. “That’s how it played out at Bethlehem. I see the same happening here in Berne.”

Seeing red

Dutchmen Head Coach Nick Warren told The Enterprise that his 2009 squad had “a tough time finishing matches,” which ultimately led to a record of 5-13 in the Suburban Council. The team was 7-16 overall.

Guilderland lost to Bethlehem in the first round of sectionals. “We played hard, but we couldn’t finish things off,” said Warren. “These guys had played with each other for years and they all had tough personalities. The season ended on a good note because we won out to make the playoffs.”

Seniors Shane DeMoree, Shawn Buzzard, Joey LaVigna, Brian O’Connor, and Ian DiPace all had starting spots on the team. Junior Chris Yanzowaski solidified the starting group of six.

“They’re great kids and I would trust them with anything,” Warren said. “They were never down on themselves or each other. They just got discouraged because we couldn’t get a good rhythm going.”

O’Connor had 206 kills and 180 blocks, and Buzzard ended up with 180 kills and 85 blocks. DeMoree was the setter and he frequently dove all over the court. “They showed some real hustle,” said Warren.

Even though Guilderland was having a rough season, Warren tried to keep things positive.

“You have to constantly remind your players to have fun and not get so mad,” Warren said. “Not that many kids get to play a varsity sport. Just try to enjoy the time as a group and keep playing the game.”

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