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Watertown has friend in Nemesis

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During her childhood Nemesis Ruiz yearned for a more mainstream first name.

“When I was little I wanted my name to be ‘Elizabeth,’” the Watertown High School senior said. “I used to say to my parents, “Why didn’t you name me ‘Elizabeth?’”

Ruiz, whose name is recognized among the top volleyball players in the Frontier League, now appreciates the unique first name her mother chose for her.

“It’s funny because I’m a very nice person and my name means ‘enemy,’” Ruiz said.

Her mother, Luz Velez, a native of Puerto Rico, grew up watching a television show that featured a female character named Nemesis.

“She was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to name my first daughter ‘Nemesis,’” Ruiz said. “I was born, there it is.”

Reactions to her name have ranged from complimentary to negative over the years. Sometimes the comments she receives are downright rude. While waiting on customers at the pizza place where she used to work a man asked her, “Who would name their child ‘Nemesis?’”

“It’s not like it hurts my feelings,” Ruiz said. “It’s a weird name, but I like my name.”

Her friends and family have had fun coming up with several nicknames for her. They include Nems, Nemi, Nemachichi and Nem Swiss.

“My name means I have to do something with my life,” Ruiz said. “It’s a powerful name, and I have to do something with it.”

Ruiz is off to a good start. She is president of her class, active in her church and among the best volleyball players in the area. She is a middle hitter in her third year on the varsity squad.

“Nemesis brings leadership and composure to the team,” Watertown coach Robin Boomhower said. “She provides experience and a positive attitude and she does bring that domineering hit/kill and block. She’s a force to be reckoned with.”

During her last two years playing varsity, Ruiz has accumulated 195 kills, 41 blocks and 140 digs. She has tallied 225 career service points, including 40 aces, and 17 assists.

Last year Ruiz finished the league season ranked first in the “A” Division in kills with 107. She was second in aces with 23, fourth in blocks with 18 and fifth in digs with 67.

“She has a lot of ability, she’s a very well-rounded player,” said Boomhower of her 5-foot-9, 140-pound player. “Someone of her height and stature you wouldn’t think would be a great defensive player, but she’s an excellent defensive player. She reads the ball pretty well.”

This season Ruiz intends to work on her “killer instinct” when it comes to finishing a play.

“She’s very nice, and I love her for that, but there are times I need her to be more aggressive,” Boomhower said. “She needs to go in with the attitude that ‘I’m going to go up, and I’m going to crush this ball.’”

Ruiz recognizes that’s an area where she needs improvement.

“I have to attack the ball harder, work on my swing and my timing and ball placement,” she said.

Watertown lost four players to graduation from last year’s team and three others decided not to play this season, so Ruiz will be relied on heavily for her talent and varsity experience.

“Having a young team, with four sophomores and only two seniors, her leadership is going to be key this year,” Boomhower said.

Ruiz will be surrounded by a strong cast of characters. Jenna Hibbard, the other senior, is one of the team’s best setters. She finished last year’s league season ranking second in the “A” Division in assists with 148.

“She’s a little more aggressive in the sense of telling people what to do,” Ruiz said. “It balances out because I’m there to calm her down and she’s there to get me going. We work well together.”

Boomhower is pleased with the promise shown by sophomores Stacia Wallace, Leah Rojas, Maggie Finster and Porsha Gathers-Grossett.

“Stacia is crushing the ball,” Boomhower said. “She is definitely going to be one to contend with.”

Ruiz agreed, “Stacia has hits that make my heart race.”

Finster is a newcomer to varsity and will fill a role as setter.

“Maggie Finster has great hands,” Ruiz said. “She’s such a good setter.”

Rojas tallied 116 digs during the league season last year, ranking first in the “A” Division.

“Leah can pass like crazy,” Ruiz said. “And then my cousin Susan (Carambot) can serve really well. Her serves are beautiful.”

Ruiz used to play basketball in her earlier years. As a 9-year-old she won a hoop shoot contest, making 13 of 25 baskets to easily capture the girls’ division. She kept the trophy for a long time but eventually gave it to a cousin who enjoys basketball. That contest could have sparked a basketball career, but she instead evolved into a volleyball player, leaving basketball behind after seventh grade.

“The best thing about volleyball is watching something come together perfectly,” Ruiz said. “The ball comes over the net, someone passes it up beautifully, it was set beautifully and then someone uses that set to make a great play with it.”

Here’s a look at all the Frontier League teams:

“A” DIVISION

Outlook: Another intense battle may break out between Watertown and defending “A” Division champion Carthage this season. Last year Carthage defeated Watertown during both regular-season matches and also captured the league championship in five games. The previous year Watertown swept all three matches. The Comets return hitter Courtney Cunningham, who ranked second in the division in kills last season with 106 and first in aces with 30. They also will rely on junior setters Carly Sullivan and Claire Sauter. Newcomer Haley Hamm, a hitter, is also fitting in well for the Comets. Watertown will be led by middle hitter Nemesis Ruiz, outside hitter Stacia Wallace and setter Jenna Hibbard. Watertown coach Robin Boomhower said she was very pleased with how her team performed at the league scrimmages last Wednesday. Indian River coach Jody Foland expects her team’s strength to come from middle hitters Asia Bliss and Ingrid Langealen, outside hitter Shannon Guler and libero Biancca Mendez.

Carthage Comets

Coach: Angela Robbins (23rd year).

2011-2012 record: 10-7, 9-4.

Roster: Megan Outwater (Sr.), Courtney Cunningham (Sr.), Nikki Wormwood (Sr.), Heather Miller (Sr.), Taylour Campbell (Jr.), Gabbee Park (Jr.), Carly Sullivan (Jr.), Mackenzie Kidder (Jr.), Claire Sauter (Jr.), Doria Darroch (Jr.), Haley Hamm (Jr.), Alexis Wallace (Jr.), Cassie Birth (So.).

Indian River Warriors

Coach: Jody Foland (4th year).

2011-2012 record: 3-12, 3-10.

Roster: Asia Bliss (Sr.), Kenia Canto (Sr.), Ingrid Langealen (Sr.), Kailey Mitchell (Sr.), Kaliya Ramsvig (Sr.), Payge Heingarten (Jr.), Cameo Holmes (Jr.), Shannon Guler (Jr.), Makenna Honeywell (Jr.), Alexandria Johnson (Jr.), Biancca Mendez (Jr.), Caitlin Pacilio (Jr.), Meaghan LaClair (So.).

Watertown Cyclones

Coach: Robin Boomhower (6th year, 72-21).

2011-2012 record: 9-10, 7-6.

Roster: Jenna Hibbard (Sr.), Nemesis Ruiz (Sr.), Natasha Ramos (Jr.), Olivia Heiler (Jr.), Susan Carambot (Jr.), Ashli Pound (Jr.), Maggie Finster (So.), Leah Rojas (So.), Porsha Gathers-Grossett (So.), Stacia Wallace (So.).

“B” DIVISION

Outlook: South Jefferson lost eight players to graduation and is favored in the division as league foe Lowville will be competing in the “C” Division this year. Lowville defeated South Jefferson in the league championship match last season. The Spartans will be led by middle hitters Alex Mooney and Janessa Vaadi and setter/hitter Jackie Decker. General Brown lost three of its top players to graduation and will rely heavily on the senior leadership of setter Maggie Ambrose. Altmar-Parish-Williamstown will be led, in part, by setters Rhiannon Wheeler and Emily Radley and outside hitter Kaitlee Benedetto.

Altmar-Parish- Williamstown Rebels

Coach: Peggy Bennett (14th year).

2011-2012 record: 3-12, 3-11.

Roster: Kaitlee Benedetto (Sr.), Macey Kerr (Sr.), Rachael Mitchell (Sr.), Emily Radley (Sr.), Jena Booth (Jr.), Chelsea Cooper (Jr.), Shayla Nichols (Jr.), Rhiannon Plantz (Jr.), Kaylee Schreyer (Jr.), Ashley Sprole (Jr.), Rachael Thorman (Jr.), Rhiannon Wheeler (So.).

General Brown Lions

Coach: Laurel Oliver (4th year).

2011-2012 record: 5-12, 5-11.

Roster: Maggie Ambrose (Sr.), Sierra Bracewell (Sr.), Kierstin Hall (Sr.), Ashley Kampnich (Sr.), Ashley Lewis-Seals (Sr.), Taylor Rosette (Sr.), Kaitlyn Miner (Jr.), Sydney Warmington (Jr.), Sheila Bracewell (So.), Ariel Singh (Fr.).

South Jefferson Spartans

Coach: Warren Denny (21st year).

2011-2012 record: 12-7, 10-4.

Roster: Megan Hanson (Sr.), Alex Mooney (Sr.), Heidi Segovis (Sr.), Hannah Mullin (Sr.), Leah Conners (Sr.), Brittany Pfaff (Jr.), Leah Denny (Jr.), Jackie Decker (Jr.), Jessica Goutremout (Jr.), Katie Elmer (Jr.), Breanna Laflesh (Jr.), Eleanor Brooks (Jr.), Janessa Vaadi (So.).

“C” DIVISION

Outlook: Lowville will add a little spark to the “C” Division this season as the Red Raiders drop from the “B” Division due to lower enrollment. Lowville, which captured the “B” Division championship match last season by defeating South Jefferson, lost nine to graduation but appeared strong at the league scrimmages on Wednesday. The Red Raiders will find strength in hitter Haley Riley, who finished last year’s league season ranked third in the “B” Division in kills with 107 and first in aces with 43. Rachael Waite (hitter) and Tasha Widrick (setter) are also expected to provide support this season for the Red Raiders, whose main strength will be in defense and outside hitting this season, according to coach Jim Rhodes. Defending “C” Division champion Beaver River lost seven to graduation, including six of its top eight players, from last year’s 19-1, 15-0 team. Coach Gene Sundberg, who surpassed his 500th career victory last season, calls this a “rebuilding year.” The Beavers lost two setters, three hitters, a libero, and four of its top five servers from last season. Madison Compton and Malori Mattimore are among the Beavers’ strongest returners. Sandy Creek is blessed with a squad of well-rounded athletes this season, according to coach Dori Hathway. The Comets will be led, in part, by Grace Wallace, Viki White, Kylie Martin and Michaela Martin. Isabel Bray, who missed last season due to knee surgery, will provide added support. South Lewis lost a strong hitter/setter combo to graduation but returns hitter Elizabeth Egnew and defensive player Jayne Strigle. Belleville Henderson lost its top four players from last season to graduation. Jordan Fitzgerald, Whitney Maitland and Jenta White should be among the top contributers for the Panthers. Thousand Islands’ success may depend on how the Vikings respond to new coach Tim Filiatrault, whose team returns all-star setter Amie Ferguson.

Beaver River Beavers

Coach: Gene Sundberg (28th year, 516-70).

2011-2012 record: 19-1, 15-0.

Roster: Keegan Bowman (Sr.), Kirsten Dziekan (Sr.), Genevieve Fidler (Sr.), Emmalee Ritz (Sr.), Madison Compton (Jr.), Erika Glenn (Jr.), Sidney Hawksley (Jr.), Melissa Hunt (Jr.), Malori Mattimore (Jr.), Ariel Ortlieb (Jr.), Kasidee Rhone (Jr.), Brittany Widrick (Jr.), Keanna Proulx (So.), Emma Schneider (So.).

Belleville Henderson Panthers

Coach: Kate Barber (4th year).

2011-2012 record: 4-12, 4-11.

Roster: Jordan Fitzgerald (Sr.), Whitney Maitland (Sr.), Daryan Wheeler (Sr.), Jenta White (Sr.), Breanne Gilligan (Jr.), Ashley Hodge (Jr.), Milinda Jones (Jr.), Angela Stenfeldt (Jr.), Haley Smith (So.), Haley Contryman (Fr.).

Lowville Red Raiders

Coach: Jim Rhodes (23rd year, 304-138).

2011-2012 record: 16-2, 13-1.

Roster: Chelsea Koster (Sr.), Erica Lucas (Sr.), Morgan McAleese (Sr.), Haley Riley (Sr.), Rachael Waite (Sr.), Tasha Widrick (Sr.), Charity Gingerich (Jr.), Alyssa Laribee (Jr.), Kendal Lazarus (Jr.), Courtney Lehman (Jr.), Jasmine Roggie (Jr.).

Sandy Creek Comets

Coach: Dori Hathway (14th year).

2011-2012 record: 7-10, 7-8.

Roster: Isabel Bray (Sr.), Alexis Donohoe (Sr.), Natasha Malik (Sr.), Viki White (Sr.), Maddie Bush (Jr.), Shania Darling (Jr.), Kylie Hanni (Jr.), Kylie Martin (Jr.), Michaela Martin (Jr.), Grace Wallace (Jr.), McKenna Guarasce (So.).

South Lewis Falcons

Coach: Ashley Gino (3rd year).

2011-2012 record: 12-7, 10-5.

Roster: Heather Bates (Sr.), Elizabeth Egnew (Sr.), Miriah Gokey (Sr.), Gabrielle Hartley (Sr.), Megan Hoffert (Sr.), Tasha Ortlieb (Sr.), Alicia Andrews (Jr.), Makayla Baslow (Jr.), Marissa Brown (Jr.), Carson Chruscicki (Jr.), Samantha McCall (Jr.), Kelsie Staats (Jr.), Jayne Strigle (Jr.), Chloe Stinebrickner (So.).

Thousand Islands Vikings

Coach: Tim Filiatrault (1st year).

2011-2012 record: 1-14.

Roster: Victoria Anchor (Sr.), Sarah Delaney (Sr.), Autumn Dutcher (Sr.), Amie Ferguson (Sr.), Megan Ferguson (Sr.), Chloe Mason (Sr.), Chelsea Smith (Sr.), Kaitlyn Bond (Jr.), Kyala Clegg (Jr.), Jenna Constance (Jr.), Kim Korcz (Jr.), Hailey Persio (Jr.), Megan Rajner (Jr.), Ally Cornaire (So.), Megan Rupp (So.).

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