Offseason efforts lead to postseason success for area teams

The seeds of postseason success were planted in the offseason for the area’s high school volleyball teams.

Four area teams reached the finals of their respective classes, and one brought home a Section II title.

“It’s fantastic for the area to see so many teams do so well,” Mayfield coach Eileen Rovito said.

Broadalbin-Perth, Gloversville, Johnstown and Mayfield all advanced to the Section II finals in their respective classes this season, with Johnstown winning the Class B title Saturday at Stillwater High School. To win the title, the Lady Bills defeated Gloversville in a five-set battle, 3-2.

“Volleyball’s come a long way, especially in this area,” Broadalbin-Perth coach Mike Calvello said. “There’s been a definite progression, and it’s a good thing.”

Broadalbin-Perth (Class C) and Mayfield (Class D) lost in their title matches Friday at Stillwater. Waterford-Halfmoon, which defeated Mayfield, has played in the summer league at Fulton-Montgomery Community College in each of the past two summers.

“It absolutely helps to play in the offseason, whether its the summer league at FMCC or with a club team, like Caroga Lake,” Rovito said. “The offseason stuff helps players get better.”

In addition to the four finalists, three other area teams – Canajoharie, Fonda-Fultonville and Fort Plain – also qualified for the postseason. Both Canajoharie and Fonda-Fultonville picked up a postseason victory before losing in the quarterfinal round.

“I was psyched for the girls,” said Herkimer County Community College volleyball coach Kristy Lynch, who also coaches with the Caroga Lake Volleyball Club. “They do put a lot of work in during the offseason. It’s nice to see so many of them doing with with their home teams.”

Gloversville, Johnstown, Mayfield, Canajoharie, Fonda-Fultonville and Broadalbin-Perth all had 13 or more wins this season.

“I definitely think it’s because they play all year,” Lynch said. “The players have a love for the game of volleyball and it shows.”

In addition to having successful seasons, most of the teams had players who competed for the invitation-only Caroga Lake Volleyball Club or took part in the summer volleyball league at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

“It has had a ton of influence on the success of the team. It is an essential part of how the girls play,” Johnstown coach Heather McGuire said. “They play together often and a lot. They have essentially become a family and know each others tendencies.”

The FMCC summer league includes several teams. Included among the league are Johnstown, Fonda-Fultonville, Gloversville, Mayfield, Broadalbin-Perth, Galway, Amsterdam, Fort Plain, Waterford, Middleburgh, Schoharie, Bishop Gibbons and Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville.

“If you’re playing only two-and-a-half months, you’re not going to be that good,” Gloversville coach Duane Hicks said. “The more kids we can get playing Caroga ball and we have started a new club down south and the summer league, that is why you have Gloversville, Johnstown, Broadalbin-Perth, Mayfield, Galway, Canajoharie and Fonda all in sectionals.”

Johnstown, Gloversville, Mayfield, Broadalbin-Perth, Galway, Waterford and Bishop Gibbons all advanced at least to the sectional semifinals this season.

“I think there are a lot of girls playing during the offseason in the area,” Calvello said. “It certainly helps when you’ve got girls playing 10 months out of year. It helps them and it helps their high school teams as well.”

In addition to the club and league, Mayfield and Gloversville have also offered summer camps in recent years.

“There are a lot of opportunities for kids to play volleyball in the offseason in our area,” Rovito said.

Caroga Lake Volleyball Club has had plenty of success in recent years, using a roster of what amount to a local all-star team claim victories in tournaments around in the Northeast in various age groups.

That success has been continued by its players as they compete for their high school teams.

“I think it obviously reflects well on Caroga Lake Volleyball Club, but that’s a reflection of what coach [Jim] Gabeler’s vision was for the club. I’m sure he would be thrilled if he was still with us to see all of the girls doing so well. The biggest compliment to him was to see them play well for their high schools. The girls are giving him all the kudos they can with how well they’re playing.”

The Caroga Lake Volleyball Club has also paid dividends for Lynch, who has two Johnstown gradate and former club players on her Herkimer squad in Brynn Hlozansky and Zara Hyde. Hlozansky recently was named the Mountain Valley Conference co-Player of the Year.

“Brynn [Hlozansky] and Zara [Hyde] are definitely the backbone of my team at Herkimer,” Lynch said.

Lynch’s only regret about the plethora of local success was that she wouldn’t be here to see it in person, as she had to travel to Niagara County Community College with her Herkimer team for regionals.

“It’s a bummer that they’re on the same weekend,” Lynch said. “I’d really love to be there in person.”