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Baldwin digging deep in hopes of building a volleyball power

Baldwin's Alexander Ahearne bumps the ball against Massapequa

Baldwin's Alexander Ahearne bumps the ball against Massapequa in the Nassau Class AA finals at SUNY Westbury on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

Projections are often dangerously bold and unsafe for coaches to dish out, but Baldwin senior Allie Ahearne is on board entirely with what volleyball coach Luis Sepulveda claims is a three-year plan.

"In a couple of years, he'll bring Baldwin to the top," the libero and outside hitter said.

Sepulveda took over Baldwin's middle school girls' program last season in hopes of installing a system so that he can develop a program within the district.

Baldwin is almost always a fringe playoff contender, but the school has never been able to withstand the might of Massapequa, winner of 15 straight Nassau County championships.

Sepulveda's goal is simple: take down the champs.

His plan is to teach the players at Baldwin Middle School all the basic fundamentals of the game that he expects them to know by the time they make it to the varsity level. At that point, his hope is to be able to handpick his team based on those who best grasp his system.

It's easier said than done, but Sepulveda is modeling his approach after that of the woman at the helm of the team he's chasing.

"When you've been at the helm of a program for a long time like CarolAnn Habeeb has, everyone wants to be like her or try to emulate that program," Sepulveda said. "She's built a juggernaut."

According to Sepulveda, Habeeb is very hands on at the lower levels of her program in an effort to preach excellence early on. That's now his goal as well.

Ahearne is an integral part of the equation, as she helps teach those in the middle school.

"She understands my philosophy," Sepulveda said. "She can take them and show them exactly what she's been taught as a player."

Sepulveda, Ahearne and all those involved with the progression of the younger players have already seen the fruits of their labor. Sepulveda said that nearly ¾ of his junior varsity team are middle schoolers who have been brought up this season. And that infusion of young talent excites him.

"Within two years, those girls will be developed, and we'll have a powerhouse for years to come," Sepulveda said.

Even with an influx of talent, Baldwin may still struggle against a Massapequa team that consistently boasts some of the best depth on Long Island.

"They're a pretty balanced team," Ahearne said. "There are definitely a few who stand out, but they're definitely balanced."

Sepulveda admitted that Massapequa is worth the hype they've been given early on this season. But as for the future of these two programs, Sepulveda said that Massapequa wouldn't have the edge for long.

As soon as his young players meet their potential, it could be an entirely different narrative.

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