After another week, I’m pretty confident that I have the top 10 teams in the section in this list (or at least in the bubble, as well). The order may be up for some debate, but I don’t think there are any “sleeper” teams out there that I don’t know about.
I try to type up my rankings Saturday so that they’re ready to go Sunday, but given that not only were there three or four tournaments going on, but most of the top five teams were in them, so I had to wait it out. And yes, the outcomes had some pretty big swings in the ranks. I must have gone through five different drafts this week, including yesterday.
Anyway, here’s my logic behind this week’s rankings. Let the cheers and jeers begin…
1. Kennedy (5-0) — The Gaels didn’t have to wait until Panas’ Panther Invitational to take the top spot, thanks in large part to two Panthers losses this week. Kennedy got its first real test of the season in a five-game win over Greenwich, although coach Ellen Casey told me that the Gaels were without senior Anni Abbruzzese, a dynamic all-around player for Kennedy.
2. Panas (3-2) — One loss shocked me; two losses (in a row, no less) were almost literally unbelievable. And if you think I’m being overdramatic or on the Panas bandwagon, just try this stat on for size: The last time Panas lost back-to-back matches was in late October of 2008. To put that into perspective, the top movie in the box offices at that time was High School Musical 3 and Britney Spears had the No. 1 song (“Womanizer”) on the Billboard charts. So now you ask, then how the heck are the Panthers still No. 2? … First off, let me just say that in any ranking system, you can’t always go by, “But they beat…” because by that logic, the Astros would be better than the Red Sox because they’ve beaten them. I’m trying to go on all-around skill; not just records. I had Panas as low at No. 5 going into Saturday, with the possibility of them dropping even lower if it bombed at the tournament. The Panthers not only won the tournament, but went undefeated the whole way, beating Yorktown twice on its home court; so even though the Huskers bested them during their match on Wednesday, I think after Saturday, it’s safe to call the week a draw for the two of them (see Yorktown, below).
3. Yorktown (5-0) — After wins over John Jay and Panas, it’s really hard now to argue against the Huskers being a top-three team right now and/or a perennial threat to dethrone the Panthers in the section final. Many of the girls on Yorktown have been teammates for years and even play club volleyball for Oxygen together, so chemistry is undeniable. I had the Huskers at No. 2 entering Saturday, and the team’s performance definitely deserved a top-three spot. Yorktown’s comeback against Ursuline was a terrific match and really showed the heart the Huskers play with each game. Even the two losses to Panas were very good matches (the first one was amazing). Not for nothing, but there has to be some level of respect for Panas as the reigning section and regional champs (see Pelham, below). The two will meet again at Panas’ Panther Invitational on October 12. Yorktown will have another heavy-hitting (pardon the pun) this week when it takes on John Jay-East Fishkill on Monday. Now in her fourth year as head coach, Katy Sherwood’s turnaround of this program may be complete after this season, if not already.
4. John Jay (4-1) — As I said last week, the beginning of the season is really a time to feel-out teams to see who really belongs where. I was somewhat hesitant to put the Indians at No. 3 last week, only because I had them previously unranked. Then again, they probably should’ve been ranked in the first place. I’m going to try and get to the John Jay-Hen Hud match on Tuesday, if nothing else, just to see them in action. This was a weird week for the top five because of Yorktown’s wins and then everyone in tournament play. The Indians lost to Yorktown during the week, but then went undefeated at the Millbrook tournament, winning their second tournament this year. The Indians don’t play Yorktown again during the regular season, but will travel to Panas on October 9 and will host the Panthers on October 18. It’s ridiculous how stacked Class A is this year — seriously.
5. John Jay-East Fishkill (5-1) — I wasn’t really sure what to make of the Patriots’ loss to Cross River — was it an off day for them? Was John Jay just on? Or is John Jay just that good? I picked John Jay-East Fishkill to win Class AA for a reason, and even with a loss to John Jay last week, a win against Panas speaks heavy volumes. Yorktown will be a great test for both of them. Is Yorktown too high? Are the Patriots too low? We’ll find out in about 24 hours.
6. Pelham (3-1) — Yes, I had Ardsley winning Class B. Yes, Pelham has a loss. And yes, Ardsley is undefeated. I was able to catch a game of the Pelham-Suffern match, which Pelham won (both the game and match). I don’t Suffern played up to par, but Pelham also played pretty well. The Pelicans’ serving was phenomenal then and heard the same thing from other coaches during the week. Ardsley went 3-0 in its first action of the year, but Pelham has some quality wins in its column, so they have the advantage for now. The two square-off on October 1 at Ardsley and October 18 at Pelham.
7. Ardsley (3-0) — Like I’ve said all year, it’s hard to gauge Ardsley until it gets into the meat of its schedule. The Panthers will have another three-match week coming up, only with slightly better competition. Coach Dave Ponterio’s squad will take on undefeated New Rochelle, a tough Ursuline team, and another tough Class A team in Eastchester, with the latter two being home matches. Hopefully this week makes the Pelham-Ardsley picture a little clearer.
8. Haldane (1-3) — Not much to say about the Blue Devils; the win against a previously undefeated Spackenkill team was huge, but then dropping a five-gamer to Mahopac kind of takes the wind out of their sails. The good thing about coach Melissa Rossano’s tiny Class D school playing a loaded schedule against some of the biggest and most talented teams in the section is that it gives Haldane plenty of chances to bounce back. Back-to-back home matches against Arlington and Panas on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, could jump-start the reigning state finalists. Stock is falling; but team talent and a foggy bottom of the rankings are keeping the Blue Devils in it.
9. Arlington (4-1) — I knew it was only a matter of time until the Admirals got back into the top 10. Arlington notched wins against Beacon, Hen Hud and Suffern to crack the rankings again. The Admirals will have Haldane and a rematch against the Sailors this week.
10. Suffern (3-3) — Playing five matches in five days is never fun. Playing five matches in five days against tough competition is just brutal. The Mounties were on the losing end of a split week, dropping contests to Pelham, Cornwall and Arlington. As you can see, two of those are top-10 teams. (We don’t cover Cornwall, a Section 9 powerhouse). Coach Sean Barnes’ girls will have a very light week, with just one match against Tappan Zee on Monday. For those of you who aren’t the greatest at math — like myself — that’s six matches in eight days. Oof.
Photo credit: John Meore/The Journal News