This is the matchup we “should have” seen last year — two undefeated squads battling it out at the state regional level. Owego (16-0) swept Hen Hud last year, despite a valiant effort from the Sailors. The Indians, the defending state champions, lost 6-foot-3 middle Rachel Merrill to graduation, which should only work in Ardsley’s favor.
The Panthers (20-0) appear to have a pretty complete team this year, with three legitimate put-away finishers (Kmetz, Chenard, Foley), a strong libero (Chu), a tall middle (Bretts) and an ever-improving setter (Canfield, pictured right — I know, photobomb game is too strong). Ardsley also boasts one of the best serving team’s in the section.
Ardsley should keep an eye on Indians junior Kim Lavender, a 5-foot-10 hitter who finished with 21 kills in the team’s section final win. Owego lost five seniors from last year’s roster to graduation.
I think Ardsley should get past Owego, likely in four. Hen Hud wasn’t as complete of a team last year as Ardsley is this year and it put up a good contest against a team that went on to win the whole thing. Ardsley is taller than Hen Hud was and Owego lost a massive piece of its success last year.
Class A: John Jay vs. Horseheads (Section 4) at Corning-Painted Post, 5 p.m.
In what is, in my opinion, the most difficult state regional semifinal for all Section 1 teams this year, John Jay will square off against a familiar foe in Horseheads. The two teams squared off in the semifinals of the Hen Hud Breast Cancer Awareness tournament in the beginning of the season and Horseheads won 25-18.
The Blue Knights, coached by former Briarcliff coach Patti Perone, have a plethora of height, boasting eight girls who stand 5-foot-8 or taller — five of which are at least 5-foot-10, including two 6-footers.
The Indians don’t have overwhelming height, but they play a clean, up-tempo style that could cause some trouble for Horseheads. Coach Tom Rizzotti has made changes to his lineup for the postseason, so the team that plays today could be vastly different than the one Horseheads saw in the first week of September.
John Jay has already lost to Horseheads, so Rizzotti and Co. know what to expect. I’m saying this goes five, although the winner is a coin flip. However, John Jay’s experience with five-gamers (Suffern, Ardsley, two against Yorktown) could be a significant factor working in its favor. Since I obviously want to cover as many teams as possible for as long as possible, I’m going with Indians in five.
Hopefully today gives Section 1 a reason to “Remember, remember the fifth of November.” Safe travels to all heading up North! I’ll be covering the Suffern boys regional semifinal, but I’ll be looking for updates from both of these matches from whomever can provide them.
Photo credit: Peter Carr/The Journal News