Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Members of the Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots gather around head coach Mike Calvello during Wednesday's girls volleyball match in Broadalbin.
By MICHAEL KELLY
BROADALBIN -- Before Wednesday's girls volleyball match, Broadalbin-Perth head coach Mike Calvello made a point of welcoming the Amsterdam High School Lady Rams to the Foothills Council for their first match in their inaugural season in the league.
Then, the Lady Patriots quickly made things uncomfortable for AHS, as B-P produced a dominant effort to win in three sets, 25-7, 25-8, 25-13.
"We got a win under our belts, so we all feel pretty good," B-P's Gabby Smith said.
Coming off a loss Tuesday to Schenectady, AHS head coach Christine Sherlock said she knew her team was likely to struggle with the Lady Patriots. But, while she said her team knows it has a lot of work to do before it can fully compete in the Foothills Council, Sherlock said she had hoped for better Wednesday when it came to her team's demeanor.
"They looked intimidated," said Sherlock. "They looked hesitant -- and, in volleyball, with hesitation, you're going to lose every time."
But the Lady Patriots are going to intimidate their fair share of teams this season. Before topping Amsterdam (0-2, 0-1) in straight sets, B-P (1-0, 1-0) had started its season by winning its preseason tip-off tournament in impressive fashion. The confidence from that feat showed early in Wednesday's match, as the Lady Patriots were able to quickly transition into their offense and had great success serving the ball.
"We served pretty well, and that was the key to the game," said Calvello. "For total, we had 20 aces on the match, which is kind of unheard of."
Jordan Marshall and Smith each had five aces for B-P, while Zoe Simonson had four, and Chelsea LeBlanc and Megan Ryder each had three.
When the Lady Patriots had to work a bit longer for their points, the club was able to show off the variety of its talent. While the squad came out of the 2013 season knowing it had a top front-row talent in LeBlanc, the play of Simonson through the Lady Patriots' tournament and first match has been a pleasant surprise for the squad. The junior had a team-high six kills, and Calvello credited her moving to the outside hitter position to replace departed senior Maddie Gurga as being one of the main reasons Simonson has been able to show off her improved skills.
"Moving her outside was a benefit to her. ... It gives us another weapon," said Calvello. "I think she can fill that void that Maddie left."
For B-P, Ryder added five kills and LeBlanc had four.
The only concern for Calvello and his Lady Patriots at this early juncture of the season, he said, is that the squad is a little too quiet. Wednesday, Calvello spent most of the match's first set imploring his squad's athletes to talk more on the court.
"They can't step on the floor and not say anything," he said. "You can't play the game without talking. Once they start starting, they start relaxing a bit and get into the flow."
B-P's Keyana Fariello, who collected six digs during Wednesday's match, said the club will shed its quiet nature.
"We need to be more comfortable around each other. We're staying back and not being as aggressive as we need to be," she said. "We're going to work on that in practice and hopefully we'll be a lot more talkative on Friday."
That's when the Lady Patriots pay a visit to Gloversville, while AHS will face Scotia-Glenville in its next match. With three sophomores in her starting lineup, Sherlock said her club needs time to come together in its new league.
"And, I think that they can, but I don't know if they believe they can," she said. "We just have a lot of work to do."
Calvello, who also saw the Lady Rams at his program's tip-off tournament, said he could see AHS becoming a tougher foe for his squad the next time around.
"They're better than they were last year," he said of the Lady Rams. "They definitely have more athletes."
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