Trevor Junquera/Recorder staff Fonda-Fultonville's Kyla Miller prepares to bump the ball Saturday during a match against Amsterdam as part of the Broadalbin-Perth Tip-Off Tournament in Broadalbin.
By MICHAEL KELLY
FONDA -- Playing in Saturday's tip-off tournament in Broadalbin, the Fonda-Fultonville Lady Braves volleyball team got a solid feel for its starting point for the 2014 season.
Head coach Pat Mancini's squad started the day 1-3, but managed to win its next three games to advance to the semifinals before losing to Broadalbin-Perth.
After losing several key players from its 2013 roster, the result was an encouraging one for F-F.
"I think this gives us a great look at what to expect in the Colonial Council," said junior Miranda Nethaway. "We have good talent on our team and, if we utilize it to our best ability, we'll surprise some people."
The Lady Braves lost a pair of all-league performers in Cory Lais and Kerrigan McCaslin, but F-F has a major area of strength on its team -- and it's up front.
The trio of Nethaway -- a first-team all-league performer -- senior Hailey Beddig and junior Gianna Cruz gives the Lady Braves an imposing group of hitters to build its offense around for the 2014 season.
"Our net play is going to be one of our strengths," Mancini said.
That strength showed Saturday, as the Lady Braves were able to use their power game to their advantage.
"Our offense is doing a lot more than we expected," Nethaway said.
That was because the club was able to get into its offense more efficiently than expected. The Lady Braves are leaning on junior Emily Littlejohn and sophomore Anne Sinicropi to take on the primary setting responsibilities for the squad, and F-F was able to get through Saturday's first go-round of competition with more ease than perhaps expected.
"That's really going to be the key to how successful we are: How quickly we adapt to our new setters," Mancini said.
The Lady Braves made it to the Section II Class C quarterfinals a year ago, losing there to Voorheesville, the eventual champion and a Colonial Council foe. Mancini said she expects Voorheesville to be a top team again in 2014, and also said Cobleskill-Richmondville, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk and Schalmont figure to be strong in 2014.
"Those should be the main competition for us," she said.
The Lady Braves open their league season today at home, against Watervliet.
Contact MICHAEL KELLY at firstname.lastname@example.org