Class B final preview: No. 1 Ardsley vs. No. 3 Nanuet, 10 a.m.
Ardsley (19-0) has waited an entire year to get back to this point. It has unfinished business that was left at John Jay last year and it will bring to Croton-Harmon on Saturday. Nanuet (17-3) is just happy to be here.
The Golden Knights are making their program debut in the section final, while the Panthers, who entered the season as heavy favorites to win it all, will look to cap the undefeated season it nearly completed last year.
As impressive as Nanuet has been this season, I think Ardsley is simply too strong, too talented, and frankly, too ticked off to lose this match. The Panthers have been steadily improving over the last three years, forming a team that now looks to not only be a section champ, but make a deep run at the state tournament.
Ardsley hitters Hayley Kmetz and Nicolina Chenard are a headache at the net for opposing defenses, while Casey Foley quietly flies under the radar. The explosive triumvirate can overpower most teams in the section, and I don’t expect anything different on Saturday.
Nanuet’s Nia Diaz is a monster, we know this; Pelham fans who didn’t know it, quickly learned on Wednesday. Fellow senior Hailey Runowski is an incredible asset on both sides of the net and the Golden Knights will need both of them to have outstanding defensive games to upset Ardsley. Nanuet setter Sarah Zazyczny will have to have the match of her career to keep Ardsley off-balance.
My prediction: Ardsley wins it, 25-18, 25-20, 25-21.
Class A final preview: No. 1 Yorktown vs. No. 2 John Jay, 12 p.m.
Defending champions Yorktown will look to continue its dominating run through Section 1 over the last two years when it squares off against John Jay, my preseason favorite to win it all. Both schools boast dedicated fan sections, which I’m sure will overload the Croton-Harmon bleachers on Saturday.
In their first meeting this year, Yorktown swept John Jay on the road in what was the Indians’ first match of the season. A week later, John Jay returned the favor by beating Yorktown on the road, albeit with a controversial call resulting in the match-winning point.
These are two of the best teams in all of Section 1 — at any class — so I don’t expect anything less than an all-out battle from the two of them. Yorktown has definitely been the more consistent team all season, but John Jay has had the experience of more high-pressure matches, with five-gamers against Yorktown (win), Suffern (win) and Ardsley (loss).
I know Indians coach Tom Rizzotti is sick of hearing this stat, but it’s worth noting that this will be John Jay’s seventh final in 12 years — a span of which the Indians have won zero titles. Between ending the streak and taking the crown from Yorktown, this would be one heck of a year to do it.
My prediction: Yorktown edges John Jay, 27-25, 23-25, 25-21, 24-26, 25-22.
Class D final preview: No. 1 Haldane vs. No. 2 Keio, 2 p.m.
I have nothing against Keio, I really don’t. In fact, I love watching it play and I’ve been blown away from what I’ve seen this year. However, Haldane is simply too good.
The defending Class D state champions are on a mission to repeat as champs and establish a dynasty in Cold Spring with its third state crown in four years. Keio is getting in the way of that.
After the Blue Devils toyed with the Unicorns during last year’s final, I think Keio will put up a much stronger fight this time around. However, I still don’t think there is any chance it wins this match. I’d be pretty shocked if it took a game, to be honest.
My prediction: Haldane rolls, 25-17, 25-14, 25-18.
Class AA final preview: No. 1 Suffern vs. No. 3 Clarkstown South, 4 p.m.
Being Rockland boy, born and bred, it’s nice to see such strong Rockland County presence in this year’s section finals, including Nanuet in that statement, of course. While Rockland has struggled, immensely, in other classes over the years, it has dominated Class AA — specifically Suffern.
The Mounties, regional champs in 2011, enter Saturday as the overwhelming favorites against the Vikings, who won the region the following year. Suffern lost in last year to John Jay-East Fishkill and has been taking teams to the woodshed this year. It’s only real test — John Jay — was a five-game loss in which the Mounties won the first two games.
Clarkstown South has vastly improved throughout the season and coach Paul Bacsardi appears to have comfortably settled in to the head coaching role he took over last year from longtime coach John Pardy.
This is not the same Vikings team Suffern swept earlier this season, so coach Sean Barnes and Co. should probably plan for that. I think Suffern wins, but I don’t think it comes as easily.
My prediction: Suffern in four, 25-20, 22-25, 25-19, 25-21.
Photo credit: The Journal News