The fact that Panas is coming off a loss — a sweep, no less — will be the x-factor in Thursday’s contest against Haldane.
Either the Panthers, who were swept by John Jay last night, will come out (for lack of a stronger word) “ticked” off on Thursday and ready to wipe the floor with Haldane, a team they swept earlier this year. Or, they’ll come out somewhat dejected, which, facing a team as hot as Haldane is right now, will only lead to their ultimate demise.
The Blue Devils are torrid-hot right now, which is awful news for Panas (or any team it faces, for that matter). Coach Melissa Rossano’s girls have been playing like a team possessed the last two weeks, so, despite the records, a Haldane win wouldn’t be anything near an “upset” as what it would have been in the beginning of the season.
I would be stunned if either team swept this match, and picking a winner (at this point in the season) seems like a coin-toss. Had you asked me a few weeks ago, and I’d say Panas would easily sweep. Wait, I picked Panas to win the first one, right? Overall, I think Panas is the better team of the two; Haldane doesn’t have a ton of height to them (outside of 6-foot-2 Kelly Vahos), which could be a problem at the net.
If the Blue Devils win this match, it will be because of their digging defense and passing — not blocks; just look at John Jay’s win from Wednesday. Few teams can “overpower” Panas, and the Panthers’ height is a big reason why. While the Blue Devils team as a whole is playing superb volleyball, the “big three” of Vahos, hitter Katie Cunningham and setter Sara Chirico are playing out of their minds right now.
(Gulp) My final prediction: Panas takes it in (ponders…) four, 25-23, 27-25, 22-25, 26-24. Guessing the scores is obviously 100 percent a shot in the dark, but you get my drift — I expect it to be a very, very close match. As I said, I think Panas’ height will be key, but more importantly, the Panthers definitely don’t want to lose twice in a row… on their home court, no less. Of course, there’s always the possibility that Haldane sweeps and Panas doesn’t score more than 20; you just never know.
What I do know is that the section tournament seeds come out in less than two weeks. Did you? (Perfect segue, eh?)
Here’s the complete schedule, along with my predictions:
Thursday, October 10
Albertus Magnus at Pearl River, 4 p.m.
Palisade Prep at Solomon Schechter, 4:15 p.m.
Somers at Pawling, 4:15 p.m.
Putnam Valley at Peekskill, 4:15 p.m.
Carmel at Brewster, 4:15 p.m.
Yorktown at Lakeland, 4:15 p.m.
Fox Lane at Horace Greeley, 4:15 p.m.
Arlington at Hen Hud, 4:15 p.m.
Haldane at Panas, 4:30 p.m. — Match of the night
Irvington at Pleasantville, 4:30 p.m.
Blind Brook at Rye Neck, 4:30 p.m.
Rye at Ossining, 4:30 p.m.
Keio at Port Chester, 4:30 p.m.
Valhalla at Byram Hills, 4:30 p.m.
Kennedy at Archbishop Molloy, 5 p.m.
Briarcliff at Croton-Harmon, 6 p.m.
Zacchio’s prediction record this season: 227-53