MAHOPAC, N.Y.— It wasn’t the greatest 2016 campaign for Mahopac’s varsity volleyball program as it fell to host Scarsdale in the first round of the Class AA playoffs and finished with a record of 6-12.
This year’s preseason vibe is better than the last, since coach Jay Melville and his players are confident that the Indians will make some noise and compete for a league title.
“Overall, it’s a very athletic group,” Melville said. “Offensively, they are going to be better than we have been the past couple of years. Going into this year I have higher expectations than going into last year.”
Determined for a comeback year, the Indians are returning four starters in junior Carah Vitkus, senior captain Julia Dodd, senior captain Claire Felix and senior Siobhan Hynes. The fearsome foursome will serve as the offensive boppers up front.
A few other strong hitters who hope to drive up the spike total are sophomore Bella Marinelli and junior Dorinda Murray.
“With those six girls that I have, at any point I feel confident when any of them hit that we have a chance to get the kill,” Melville said. “It’s a totally different look to this team. We are going to be a little stronger at the net and hopefully be a better blocking team, which will help the back-row defense.”
Competing for the libero spot on defense is sophomore Gabby Rocchio while junior Francesca Cammarata will be a setter.
“Our setters can run special plays instead of just regular sets,” Felix said. “Our serve-receive as a program has always struggled, but this year we’re doing a lot better at that. Once we get passes to target for better sets, our hitters are good enough to put it down every time.”
Senior captain Ashley Hickey continues to fight for a position on the back-row too. Another senior in Alexa O’Leary will be called upon to do it all as a utility player this season.
“We have a lot of flexible players this year,” Dodd said. “We have people who can play back and front row and we jell really well. Even if our passes don’t go to target, they can still execute the ball so that we are able to hit it and adjust. We also have a lot of girls who can serve it hard into spots.”
Mahopac gets the ball flying on Sept. 6 when it hosts Harrison at 4:30 p.m. It has scheduled matches with the upper-echelon of Section 1 including New Rochelle, North Rockland, Ossining and Walter Panas.
“Looking at this team and knowing what I have had compared to years past, we’ll hopefully be able to compete for the league title,” Melville said. “We could also possibly win a couple of rounds in sectionals.”