Section 1 representative: Haldane (19-2)
Opponents: Chateaugay (20-1), Harpursville (20-0) and Portville (20-2)
Pool play round: Saturday, 3 p.m.
What to know about Haldane: Haldane, the defending Class D NYSPHSAA champions return to Glens Falls for the fifth consecutive year, looking to capture its third plaque in four years and fifth overall. The Blue Devils are led by hard-hitting, blocking-extraordinare middle Kelly Vahos, a 6-foot-2 senior who officially signed with James Madison University on Wednesday.
Vahos is one of two seniors on the young Blue Devils squad, along with Fiona Mueller. Haldane appears to be at full strength after having junior Nicole Etta miss almost all of last season with a torn meniscus and having sophomore Brooke Vahos (right) miss most of this year with a fractured ankle. Because it is such a small school, many of the names on Haldane’s roster through the years look familiar.
Aside from the obvious Vahos sisters, Etta is the younger sister of 2011 champion Lauren, the youngest sister of 2007 champion Danielle and the cousin of current Blue Devils eighth-grader Morgan. Junior Maisy Curto returns from last year’s championship squad, which also boasted older sister Maya. The eldest Curto, AJ, won in 2011. Heck, even Blue Devils coach Melissa Rossano won a state title, hoisting the hardware in 1998. Bottom line: Haldane knows how to win.
STAT FACTS: Only three schools from Section 1 have ever successfully defended a state title — Hen Hud (2006-08), Croton-Harmon (1998-99) and Fox Lane (1998-99). A Haldane win would also tie the Blue Devils for third all-time in state titles with Mayville and Burnt Hills.
What to know about Chateaugay: I’ll start off by saying that I had a much tougher time digging up stuff on Class D teams than the other three classes, so I apologize. I also have 12 teams to post about (well, 16, if you count ours), so I’ll try and give you the important info.
The Bulldogs haven’t really been contested this year, dropping only one match during the season and shutting out almost all of their opponents in their 20 wins. This could either mean that Chateaugay is really that dominant or that maybe the competition just isn’t up to their level. Experience has shown me that it’s usually the latter, which is good news for Haldane, which should be shock to the Bulldogs’ system in Glens Falls.
What to know about Harpursville: Haldane can thank Harpursville for ruining the possibility of a Haldane-Tioga state final, which, anyone who was at last year’s semifinals knows, would’ve been one interesting match. The Hornets boast a 10-player roster, half of which are seniors.
I think that it’s going to be a Haldane-Harpursville final, in which case, the Blue Devils may be overwhelmed by the Hornets’ height. Haldane has never been a very tall team during my four years on the beat, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in talent. More than half of Harpursville’s roster stands at 5-foot-8 or taller, including three at 5-foot-10 or taller.
Like Haldane, it appears that Harpursville runs a 6-2 system with 5-foot-10 senior Megan Matts and 5-foot-9 junior Abbie Miller. Most of the Hornets’ height is in the middle, so if the Blue Devils can attack from the corners, they should be able to win it all again this year.
What to know about Portville: The narrative for the Panthers, who won the state crown in 2008, is that they are this year’s Cinderella team, getting past the always tough Randolph Cardinals and then beating a towering Batavia Notre Dame team en route to the Civic Center.
Portville has not been to the state semifinals since it won six years ago, so none of the girls on this year’s roster will have experience playing in the big house. Still, I think that Portville should have a good showing at the tournament. As long as the team itself isn’t as cocky as some of its supporters, the Panthers should do fine.
Can anyone even compete with Portville volleyball? ????
— AustinCornelius13 (@Austin_28_) November 8, 2014
Oh, and the answer: Haldane.