They’re ready. The Huntington High School girls’ volleyball team is set to challenge Suffolk’s best as the Blue Devils return an experienced team led by some of the best players in the county.
Huntington won five meets and finished fourth in the league standings last fall, in what amounted to the most successful season in many years. The Blue Devils lost Caroline Lenze and Shaye O’Beirne to graduation, but many talented players are returning to the court.
Huntington varsity girls' volleyball head coach Lauren Visbal. (Darin Reed photo.)
Head coach Lauren Visbal is hoping to surpass last season’s playoff appearance by advancing deeper into post-season play and she has the players needed to pull it off.
Among those returning is Bucknell University bound Cat Jamison, who captured All-Conference and All-County Tournament honors after turning in a spectacular junior season that included 175 kills, 145 digs, 34 aces and six blocks.
“This season is going to be amazing,” said Jamison about the coming campaign. “We are coming back extremely motivated to make playoffs. We are now in a tougher league and can’t wait for the challenge. I’m super excited for this team to showcase what we can do.”
All-League players Maddie Reed and Shannon Kehoe are also returning for the Blue Devils. Kehoe added Suffolk League IV Rookie of the Year Award recognition last fall.
An exceptional middle hitter, Reed recorded 48 kills, 11 digs, 29 aces and 13 blocks as a junior. “I’m super excited for the upcoming season,” Reed said. “We have an amazing group of girls that are so invested in the success of our team and program that it will undoubtedly take us deep into the playoffs this year.”
Kehoe sparkled as a freshman setter last year, tallying 291 assists, 36 digs, 18 kills, 15 aces and six blocks. Marina Durand, Kiara Gelbman, Grace Heuwetter, Peyton Kalb, Sophia Severine, Isabella Toscano and Steli Vlahos are also coming back to solidify Huntington’s lineup.
“Looking back on last year we were fortunate enough to make the playoffs and experience the focus and mentality that each player must have to succeed,” Toscano said. “This year I’m hoping we can start to incorporate these components early in our season so that when we get back to playoffs we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
Every Huntington player is coming into the new campaign with high expectations. “I’m looking forward to a great season,” Vlahos said. “I’m really excited, we have a lot of seniors this year who have been playing together since sixth grade. This year I’m expecting us to make it to playoffs again and accomplish even more than we did our last season.”
When the season opens next Monday with the first day of practice, the team will be focused on the job at hand.
“This season is going to be unlike any other,” Durand said. “There is so much potential in every single player and as a team we come together and make great things happen. I’m really hoping we can make it to playoffs again and go even further than we did last year. I’m so excited for this season and to see what we can accomplish.”
The Blue Devil varsity will also more than likely include some new faces on its roster with several players from last fall’s junior varsity team in the mix for a promotion.
Last year’s JV roster included eighth graders Megan Donaghy and Lauren Gennarelli; freshmen Madelyn Bavaro, Cassidy Casabona, Kianna Criscuola, Caroline Gorecki, Alexis Kaloudis, Sofia Marchetta, Francesca Stamatatos, Grace Stolfa, Sophia Toscano and Nina Varvatsas and sophomores Mackenzie Madison, Kathryn Renkewitz and Grace Renkewitz.
Over the course of the 10 match schedule last fall, the Huntington JV won three and lost three others by excruciatingly close 2-1 scores.
Captained by Mackenzie Madison and Grace Renkewitz, the Blue Devil JV was a competitive team. Stolfa tallied 79 digs and Gorecki notched 64 assists at setter and 20 service aces. Donaghy had 16 kills from her outside hitter position and 23 service aces. Criscuola shined at middle hitter with 33 kills, 74 digs and 14 aces. Gorecki and Toscano were both outstanding at setter, combining for 104 assists and 36 service aces.
Stolfa was the Huntington JV’s best defensive player, leading the team in digs. Donaghy enjoyed a great season as an eighth grader, finishing as one of the Blue Devils’ top hitters, compiling the second most kills and leading the squad in aces.