Ward Melville could repeat as Class AA girls volleyball champion

Glenn's Samantha Czeczotka spikes the ball directly toward Glenn's Samantha Czeczotka spikes the ball directly toward Lindenhurst defender Courtney Brandenberger during their match at John Glenn High School. (Oct. 6, 2012) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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Suffolk

With a group of standout players, including Tracy Singleton, Christine Donat and Carly Vackiel, Ward Melville has a shot at repeating as Class AA champion, yet there is some stiff competition.

Lindenhurst made it to the county final last year and will rely heavily on senior Courtney Brandenberger, who is one of the best players on Long Island.

Smithtown East has opened the season 3-0 with wins over both Lindenhurst and Ward Melville. Laura Pugliese had 12 kills and Dani Nizich added 35 assists last week in the win over Lindenhurst. Maliaka Hollis had 13 kills and seven digs, and Casey Gelderman had 19 digs against Ward Melville.

Amanda Gannon had 16 kills, 10 digs, two aces and two blocks in Kings Park's Class A final victory over South Side last year, and the senior is already off to an impressive start this season. Kendall Corcoran, Amber Walters and Joelle Goldstein are starters who will like to extend Kings Park's 34-game winning streak, according to coach Liz Manly.

After losing to Kings Park in the county final, Bellport is off to a 5-1 overall start. Maggie Allen, Arella Guirantes and Samantha Colombo have all stepped up with double-digit dig games on a consistent basis.

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Glenn won its 12th straight Long Island Class B championship last year, yet coach Kevin Harrington said, "This year we've been down as much as we have in all the years because we graduated six starters and are without experience." Senior setter Stephanie Viteritti is the remaining leader and the team's best hitter is junior Simi Familusi.

Many consider East Hampton, led by Raya O'Neal, as the Class B favorite. Bayport-Blue Point and Hampton Bays are perennial playoff teams that return strong units.

Margot Zamet and Jillian Gaare lead Babylon, which won the Long Island Class C championship. It was Babylon's first Long Island championship in program history, according to coach Patrick Donaldson.

Nassau

Massapequa aims to make it 14 straight Nassau Class AA championships this year under coach Carol-Ann Habeeb.

Baldwin, after advancing to the county final, has started this season strong. Senior Loren McKenzie had 10 kills and six blocks and Bridgette Walsh had eight kills and 15 digs in a win over Hicksville last week.

South Side captured the Class A crown last year and is 3-0. Sydney Gabriel had 22 assists, 10 kills and three aces in a win over Lawrence earlier this month and is capable of having games like that on a consistent basis.

Wantagh expects to contend this year for a county championship after losing in the final last year. Seniors Gabi DiMeglio and Cathryn Semendinger are primed for big seasons.

Seaford has a talented and deep roster, evidenced by a 4-0 start and a Class B championship last year. Erin Russell, a tremendous passer, and Jessica Rini are ones to watch.

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Lynbrook, led by Nicole Milillo and Morgan Smithwick, Mineola and Island Trees will all be in the mix for deep playoff runs.

Caroline Kelly had 24 digs and four kills and Nikia Gardon had seven kills for Oyster Bay in a win over Valley Stream South last week. Both are counted on to help Oyster Bay to repeat as Class C champions. Carle Place, which made it to the final last year, has already won all five of its games so far, mostly because of the tremendous play from Courtney Mulcare.

CHSAA

Julia Forster, a returning All-Long Island player, has helped lead St. Anthony's to a 5-1 start. Kelly Fitzpatrick at setter and Samantha Zebuth have also played well. St. Anthony's clinched its fifth straight regular-season league championship last year, according to coach Donna Newman.

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Kellenberg, fresh off winning their first CHSAA championship in school history according to coach Cathy VonSchoenermarck last year, returns senior standout Devon O'Shaughnessy, and Candace Belvedere and Kristen Flynn.

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