NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— John Veteri has been a part of the North Salem volleyball program for five years as its JV coach and now gets his chance to take the reins as varsity head coach with the departure of Cara Sullivan.
Veteri is hoping to return the program to the success it experienced during the early 1990s.
“I told these girls when I had them as freshmen at the JV level that with hard work that they can make something happen before they graduated and left North Salem,” Veteri said. “Now as seniors, this group, I believe, will help turn our volleyball program in the right direction and back to the tradition of a powerhouse team in Class C like they were in the early ‘90s.”
The first-year varsity head coach is expecting his seniors to set the tone, but he also has plenty of capable younger players.
“The seniors will lead with experience for our underclassmen, but do not count them out,” said Veteri, who is also the head coach of the Somers/North Salem varsity ice hockey team. “We have some highly skilled underclassmen that will be tossed into the mix and add some competition to the team.”
North Salem runs a 6-2 offense with two setters always on the court in seniors Amanda Santos and Leah Feniger.
“I am looking forward to seeing the senior setters lead the way for us,” Veteri said, “but to also help some of our younger setters work at the varsity level.”
Senior Lauren Smith, a returning starter, and junior newcomer Brianna Perez are battling for the starting libero spot. Smith is a versatile athlete who also plays outside hitter.
Senior outside hitter Simone Schnarwiler and senior middle hitter Stephanie Blackwood bring height, experience and big hits to the front row.
Other key newcomers to the Tigers include sophomore middle hitter Gabrielle Marino and sophomore outside hitter McCall Valentin.
North Salem opens the season when it hosts Alexander Hamilton at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
“Our team will have a great mix of the young and the old,” Veteri said. “We have some great seniors that are looking to leave a mark on North Salem volleyball and a group of underclassmen that are looking to prove to everyone else that North Salem volleyball is not to be taken lightly anymore.”