Lily Preis contributed to this report.
CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – The postponement of the volleyball season to the spring was not welcome news to an experienced John Jay team with high hopes of capturing a section title, but players and coaches are hoping the minor setback will lead to a major comeback
“This season is something we’ve been looking forward to since last winter,” said Lily Preis, a fourth-year starter and senior captain. “It was really hard to accept that we wouldn’t get to play in the fall, but I truly think we will have a more fulfilling season in the spring.”
Preis, an outside hitter who earned All-State honors and was named Conference Player of the Year a season ago, is one of four starters and five seniors slated to return for the Wolves, who reached the section finals in 2019, falling to Hen Hud in straight sets.
Volleyball, along with football and girls swimming, was moved to the “Fall II” season, which begins March 1. Fall sports (boys and girls soccer, cross country, girls tennis, field hockey) started their seasons with practices and tryouts on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Regional and state titles have been canceled for all sports, which Preis hopes will change.
“It’s so weird to not have had preseason or any games yet; to us the start of school has always meant volleyball,” Preis said. “I hope that moving the high-risk sports to the spring will increase the chance of having a full season.”
Allie Driesen, another senior captain, shared similar sentiments.
“I’m disappointed but also hopeful that with this move to the spring that we will have a better shot of a full season and postseason,” said Driesen, a setter who earned All-League honors last year.
Lily Hodor, a junior captain, also tried to put a positive spin on the situation.
“I’m upset we don’t have our usual start of the year excitement, but I’m hopeful the spring will allow us to possibly have a longer season in addition to (possibly) having everyone be able to play together before the season in winter,” said Hodor, a libero who was named All-League honorable mention last year.
Like his players, Coach Tom Rizzotti was initially disappointed by the news.
“I am not sure I was more excited about an upcoming season than I was about 2020,” Rizzotti said. “We had a great team coming back, including four returning four-year players. So, when the reality hit that we weren’t going to have a season it was hard to take.”
Once he had time to process the decision and put this in perspective, the coach said, he became “OK” with it. One reason for that, he said, is that fall sports could be canceled before the seasons are finished.
“I am not personally convinced that the fall season is going to make it all the way through,” he said. “I don’t think Section 1 is thinking so, either, since they’re advising fall coaches to have their senior nights earlier in the season.”
Moving volleyball to spring, Rizzotti said, might give his team the best chance to play an uninterrupted season.
“It’s not guaranteed but I feel it’s a better chance,” the coach said. “I know it’s not ideal, but I would prefer to have more of a season rather than less.”
Junior varsity and modified sports are also canceled this fall at John Jay, which Rizzotti hopes will change when spring comes around.
“All in all, nothing is ideal right now,” he said. “All we can do right now is our best, and I am hoping that the decision to move volleyball to the spring ends up being the best decision.”