Section 1 representative: Ardsley (22-0)
Opponents: Hudson Falls (18-2), John Glenn (17-5) and Williamsville South (17-5)
Pool play round: Saturday, 8:30 a.m.
What to know about Ardsley: Whenever I see undefeated records — in the section or out — it makes me skeptical, but not so much with the Panthers, who are the real deal. Ardsley beat strong Section 1 teams during the season and then took down the defending state champions in the regional semifinals. If the win over John Jay didn’t solidify Ardsley’s status, the Owego Free Academy win definitely did.
Coach Dave Ponterio‘s girls return to the state semifinals for the fourth time in program history, but the first time in a decade. The Panthers are led by a powerful triumvirate on offense — Hayley Kmetz, Nicolina Chenard and Casey Foley, all of whom can put the ball down with power and accuracy. Ardsley is one of the top serving teams in the section, and — since it is in the state semifinals, I can guess with a good amount of certainty — the state.
Senior Megan Canfield has had a sensational season at setter, while freshman Christina Chu (above) continues to impress as the team’s starting libero. Middle blocker Julia Bretts adds exceptional height in the middle to form a well-rounded Panthers squad. Ardsley also has a number of go-to options including, but not limited to, Ashley Macri and Jessie Siegel.
STAT FACTS: An Ardsley win would be the first Class B NYSPHSAA title for Section 1 since Hen Hud in 2008, when the Sailors also ran the table in undefeated fashion.
What to know about Hudson Falls: The Tigers labeled their season “The Return,” in the preseason, which was probably more in relation to the section than the state. But hey, exceeding expectations is never a bad thing. Hudson Falls won its first section title since 1995, so any member of the Tigers with deep playoff experience is likely married with kids by now.
Hudson Falls is a shorter team, with every member of its 12-player squad standing at 5-foot-9 or shorter. Given the overwhelming power of Chenard and the vertical reaches of both Kmetz and Foley, Ardsley should have little trouble getting through the Tigers’ block.
One thing I personally like about the Tigers is that they are nice to the media (not that Section 1 isn’t). Hudson Falls was kind enough to give Post-Star writer Brett Carlson some defensive pointers during one of their practices, similar to what Scarsdale did with me earlier in the season on the offensive end. Here’s a clip of the action. Anyone willing to make a Section 1 version?
What to know about John Glenn: Whether you’ve played in Glens Falls or not, if you follow volleyball around the state, you know the name John Glenn. Winners of five of the last 10 state titles, including back-to-back wins as recently as 2011 and 2012, the Spiders are proven champions.
Fortunately for Ardsley, this is a smaller John Glenn team than in recent years, with all but one player standing 5-foot-8 or shorter. I use the term “smaller” very loosely. Unfortunately for Ardsley, this is still John Glenn. Senior Simi Familusi may be the only player left from three years ago, but this is still a Spiders team that knows how to win on the biggest stage.
This school goes by more names than Babe Ruth — “Elwood,” “Elwood-John Glenn,” “John Glenn,” “Glenn,” — it’s almost impossible to look up information on them. Thank goodness the team has been so successful, otherwise we probably wouldn’t find anything. I did find that one local paper said that this is, “by Glenn standards, a ‘down year,'” so that’s something to keep in mind.
I’ve got Ardsley and John Glenn in the final on Sunday. We’ll see how it pans out.
What to know about Williamsville South: The Billies won their first-ever section and regional titles this year, so the state semifinals will certainly be a new experience for them. Boasting only three seniors and a strong contingent of juniors, we could see Williamsville South back here next year, but let’s focus on the present.
Ardsley appears to play a much faster game than Williamsville South may be used to (see below), so I think that the combination of the Panthers’ up-tempo offense and their power make for a favorable matchup against the Billies.
Here’s a nice six-minute clip on Williamsville South from September. The Billies are in the blue uniforms: