If you want to get technical, the Vikings will have a new coach this fall. But for anyone who has been around the Clarkstown South volleyball program, they know that Paul Bacsardi is far from a rookie.
Bacsardi served as an assistant to longtime coach John Pardy for the last 15 years, and will now take over after Pardy hung it up after 42 total years of coaching, including 19 at South.
“I’ve had butterflies all day,” Bacsardi said on Monday, when I paid a camp stop to the home of the reigning Section 1 and state regional champion Vikings. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, and when it was announced that I was taking over, I spent a whole summer preparing to keep the Viking program going the way coach Pardy led us for a long time.”
(Below is a compilation video of Albertus Magnus and Clarskstown South from Monday)
After losing the team’s two star hitters (twins Taylor and Kianna Carroll), libero (Caitlyn Zimmerman) and setter (Maggie Harten), Bacsardi will have several spots to fill in order to get the Vikings back to the section final.
“We lost a large core last year, so the players who are moving up to the (varsity) team, I’ve been around so I sort of know who they are,” Bacsardi said. “It’s always a new process every year to try and make those players jell on the court.”
Fortunately for the first-year (head) coach, South does have some pieces he can work with this season… and next.
Twin sisters Barbara and Nastasia Kapustin, who, like the Carrolls, stand over six-feet tall, appeared to be in phenomenal shape for their junior campaigns and should pick up a lot of the slack from the Carrolls. Fellow junior Annie Singh, another hitter with some height to her, will look to follow up her breakout sophomore season.
“Hopefully we have some people come up from (junior varsity) because they have talent, too, and we need a new setter and a new libero,” Nastasia Kapustin said. “Hopefully someone will fill the void.”
Bacsardi expects the Kapustin twins to have a massive breakout season.
“I’m looking for the Kapustins to really step out of the Carrolls’ shadow,” he said. “The Carrolls were in a league of their own at the time, and they were getting a lot more sets than (the Kapustins), so hopefully (the Kapustins) step up and I think they have; they’ve been working hard all summer, playing a lot of beach volleyball to strengthen their legs, so I think they really want to succeed.”
“Caitlyn is going to be hard to replace — she was four years in the making, and the last two years, she really shined,” he said. “That’s going to be a treat, to find out who is going to step into that libero position.”
Having a familiarity with Bacsardi should lead to a smooth transition for the team, who noted the exact same “compare and contrast” between the two coaches.
Both Kapustins and Singh said Bacsardi focuses a lot on the conditioning aspect of the game, while Pardy focused more on the physical aspects of the game. Then again, it is still the first week of the season.
Clarkstown South will host a preseason scrimmage tournament on August 30 which will draw 15 teams from Rockland, Westchester and other out-of-area New York spots. During the regular season, the Vikings will host the 19th annual Alex Valow Memorial tournament on September 28, which is expected to draw up to 31 teams, according to Bacsardi.
I currently have the Vikings in my preseason top 10 at No. 8, but they will dip once I rank John Jay-East Fishkill, who looks to be a Class AA powerhouse this season. (The Vikings beat the Patriots in the section final last year). Mike Benischek of our sister paper, The Poughkeepsie Journal, was at East Fishkill on Thursday and scouted the Patriots. Check his Twitter feed for more updates, but I have posted one below.
South will still remain in the top 10, which will likely see Eastchester fall out and onto the bubble. Rankings will be updated periodically throughout the season.
The Universal belief among the John Jay team is that they can and should surpass last year’s Sect 1 Class AA finals appearance. #PJCamp
— Mike Benischek (@BenischekPJ) August 22, 2013