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FL volleyball preview: Comets’ Martin dedicated leader

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SANDY CREEK — Kylee Martin and her teammates each stuff a piece paper in one of their socks before every volleyball match.

The papers don’t list play options but simply contain an inspirational quote that helps keep the team focused.

As Sandy Creek’s senior setter, Martin serves as the team’s “quarterback” and is responsible for controlling the court.

Her competitive nature and ability to communicate effectively should help Sandy Creek emerge as one of the top volleyball teams in the Frontier League this season.

“I despise losing,” Martin said. “It’s really not just a game to me. I don’t like to give up. I’ve always had a goal, and I always try to meet it no matter what.”

Martin finished the regular season in 2012-13 with 241 assists, 126 service points, including 45 aces, and 20 blocks.

“She’s very determined, and she’s very dedicated,” said Sandy Creek coach Dorianne Hathway. “She wants to succeed, and she wants everybody around her to succeed.”

Hathway, in her 15th season, started handing out the quotes early in her coaching career. Some are famous quotes and others are phrases she came up with herself.

One of the favorite verses among the players has been, ‘There is no should have, could have, would have, when you give all you have.’

The players sit in a circle and discuss the quote given them before every match. They each offer input on what the quote means to them.

Martin says the quotes are such an important part of their game preparation that if Hathway stopped providing them, the team would continue the pregame ritual on their own.

“It gets us all pumped up and on the same page,” Martin said.

Sandy Creek captured a share of the “C” Division regular-season title with Lowville last winter but lost the tournament title to South Lewis. The Comets, who finished 15-5 overall and 13-3 in the league, plan to use that heart-wrenching feeling of defeat to motivate them this season.

“That was a bummer,” Martin said. “Nobody on our team likes to lose, we’re very competitive, so that was very devastating for us.”

The Comets’ regular-season title was their first since 1983, according to Hathway. Sandy Creek also beat Watertown for the first time in more than 30 years.

The Comets lost starters Viki White, a setter, and middle hitter Isabel Bray to graduation from last season’s team. Besides Martin, Sandy Creek will also be led by seniors Grace Wallace, Kylie Hanni and Martin’s fraternal twin sister, Michaela.

Wallace, an outside hitter, played football for the Comets this fall and became the second female to score a touchdown in a Section 3 high school football game. She moves very quickly on the court and finished with 125 kills and 46 aces during the regular season last year.

“Gracey is a very strong hitter,” Kylee Martin said. “If she messes up one play, she’ll come back and change it up and get a point on the next play. She’s very motivated, and she’s also very competitive.”

Hanni is a middle hitter who registered 124 kills and 48 blocks, while Michaela Martin is an outside hitter who provided 106 kills. She also passes and serves well.

McKenna Guarasce, a junior middle hitter, will add power at the net for the Comets. She supplied 154 kills and 59 blocks last season.

Before Monday’s season-opening match versus Beaver River, the Comets mulled over the phrase, ‘Push yourself again and again. Don’t give an inch until the final point is over!’

One quote from a previous season that stands out to Martin is, ‘Players win games; teams win championships.’

The Comets will be strong contenders this season and are in the hunt for a league championship, one quote at a time.

Here is a look at the Frontier League:

“A” DIVISION

Outlook: This division should again come down to a battle between Carthage and Watertown. Preseason reports from coaches have given the edge to the Comets. Carthage leaders will include senior setters Claire Sauter and Carly Sullivan and junior hitter Cassie Birth. For Watertown, junior setter Maggie Finster is emerging as one of the Cyclones’ top players. Watertown should receive strong performances from outside hitters Kaety Hanlin and Stacia Wallace and senior setter Olivia Heiler. The Cyclones will also benefit from the addition of Carthage transfer Haley Hamm but will miss Leah Rojas, who moved to Germany with her military family. Indian River’s success will hinge on how well it responds to new coach Alyssa Fitchette, a former Watertown standout.

Carthage Comets

Coach: Angela Robbins (24th year).

2012-2013 record: 14-5 overall, 10-3 league.

Roster: Doria Darroch (Sr.), Mackenzie Kidder (Sr.), Gabbee Park (Sr.), Claire Sauter (Sr.), Carly Sullivan (Sr.), Alexis Wallace (Sr.), Cassie Birth (Jr.), Bryanna Gagnon (Jr.), Kendra Kehoe (Jr.), Morgan Miller (Jr.), Jenna Scott (Jr.), Marissa Ixtlahuac (So.).

Indian River Warriors

Coach: Alyssa Fitchette (1st year).

2012-2013 record: 1-14, 1-12.

Roster: Shannon Guler (Sr.), Cameo Holmes (Sr.), Makenna Honeywell (Sr.), Biancca Mendez (Sr.), Feuisha Perine (Sr.), Kaylee Stewart (Sr.), Alex Berge (Jr.), Xasia Clark (Jr.), Kortni Derouin (Jr.), Lauren Downey (Jr.), Kasey Fuller (Jr.), Meaghan LaClair (Jr.), Katelyn Stump (So.).

Watertown Cyclones

Coach: Robin Boomhower (7th year, 81-30).

2012-2013 record: 9-9, 6-7.

Roster: Haley Hamm (Sr.), Olivia Heiler (Sr.), Alyssa Barrett (Jr.), Maggie Finster (Jr.), Porsha Gathers-Grossett (Jr.), Emily Medley (Jr.), Jamie Shaw (Jr.), Stacia Wallace (Jr.), Kaety Hanlin (So.), Xanara Ruiz (So.), Megan Wilson (So.).

“B” DIVISION

Outlook: The “B” Division is different this year. Lowville returns to the division after spending last season in the “C” Division due to decreased enrollment at the school. Altmar-Parish-Williamstown has returned to the Onondaga High School League. Defending “B” Division champ South Jefferson appears to be the team to beat again this year. The Spartans return setters Jackie Decker and Ellie Brooks and middle hitter Janessa Vaadi. Decker suffered an ankle injury at the end of soccer season but is expected to return to the volleyball court early on. Lowville’s only returning starter is middle hitter Kendal Lazarus. The Red Raiders should also receive solid performances from Lindsey Golas and setter Isabelle Hanno. General Brown’s only returning starter is Sydney Warmington.

General Brown Lions

Coach: Laurel Oliver (5th year).

2012-2013 record: 1-14, 1-12.

Roster: Deleha Decker (Sr.), Kaitlyn Miner (Sr.), Jillian Primicias (Sr.), Sydney Warmington (Sr.), Rebecca Salaun (Jr.), Megan Biggs (So.), Jennifer Furchak (So.), Kaylee Hall (So.), Cortney Hughes (So.), Erin McClary (So.), Hannah Peters (So.), Ariel Singh (So.).

Lowville Red Raiders

Coach: Jim Rhodes (24th year, 320-142).

2012-2013 record: 16-4, 13-3.

Roster: Charity Gingerich (Sr.), Alyssa Laribee (Sr.), Kendal Lazarus (Sr.), Courtney Lehman (Sr.), Jasmine Roggie (Sr.), Therese Dines Christensen (Jr.), Megan Denise (Jr.), Kaitlin Fayle (Jr.), Lindsey Golas (Jr.), Jolene Plato (Jr.), Laura Platz (Jr.), Rachel Pridell (Jr.), Shenaya Simmons (Jr.), Ashlee Sprowl (Jr.), Ashley Stocking (Jr.), Christina Swiernik (Jr.), Isabelle Hanno (So.).

South Jefferson Spartans

Coach: Warren Denny (23rd year).

2012-2013 record: 13-5, 10-3.

Roster: Ellie Brooks (Sr.), Jackie Decker (Sr.), Leah Denny (Sr.), Katie Elmer (Sr.), Jessica Goutremout (Sr.), Breanna LaFlesh (Sr.), Beth Booher (Jr.), Halei Loya (Jr.), Hannah Markey (Jr.), Caitlyn Slate (Jr.), Janessa Vaadi (Jr.).

“C” DIVISION

Outlook: Last season, the “C” Division, which included Lowville in the mix, yielded interesting results. Sandy Creek and Lowville shared the regular-season championship, but South Lewis beat Sandy Creek to claim the tournament title after having lost to the Comets twice during the regular season. Several coaches predict Sandy Creek to be the team to beat this season, and South Lewis will likely be in the running, too. The Comets return all but two of last season’s starters and will be led by senior setter Kylee Martin and senior hitters Grace Wallace, Kylie Hanni and Michaela Martin. South Lewis will rely on senior libero Jayne Strigle and junior setter Chloe Stinebrickner. Beaver River coach Gene Sundberg, who surpassed 500 career wins two seasons ago, hopes to recover from the loss of libero Emma Schneider, who is out for the season due to a soccer injury. The Beavers’ offensive punch may come from all-around player Melissa Hunt and hitters Madison Compton and Brittany Widrick. Thousand Islands only returns junior setter Ally Cornaire from last season’s starting lineup. Newcomer Miquella Farris should provide some hitting for the Vikings.

Beaver River Beavers

Coach: Gene Sundberg (29th year, 528-76).

2012-2013 record: 12-6, 12-4.

Roster: Nina Andreassen (Sr.), Madison Compton (Sr.), Sidney Hawksley (Sr.), Melissa Hunt (Sr.), Malori Mattimore (Sr.), Ariel Ortlieb (Sr.), Kasidee Rhone (Sr.), Brittany Widrick (Sr.), Mariah Abel (Jr.), Anna Bush (Jr.), Emalee Cardinal (Jr.), Keanna Proulx (Jr.), Emma Schneider (Jr.), Reganne Smith (Jr.).

Belleville Henderson Panthers

Coach: Kate Barber (5th year).

2012-2013 record: 1-15.

Roster: Breanne Gilligan (Sr.), Ashley Hodge (Sr.), Milinda Jones (Sr.), Hannah Race (Sr.), Angela Stenfeldt (Sr.), Bridgit David (Jr.), Elizabeth Scherer (Jr.), Danielle Simmons (Jr.), Haley Smith (Jr.), Marisa Sugden (Jr.), Chole Ward (Jr.), Haley Contryman (So.).

Sandy Creek Comets

Coach: Dorianne Hathway (15th year).

2012-2013 record: 15-5, 13-3.

Roster: Madison Bush (Sr.), Shania Darling (Sr.), Gabriella Guarasce (Sr.), Kylie Hanni (Sr.), Kylee Martin (Sr.), Michaela Martin (Sr.), Grace Wallace (Sr.), Autumn Darling (Jr.), McKenna Guarasce (Jr.), Maggie King (Jr.).

South Lewis Falcons

Coach: Ashley Gino (4th year).

2012-2013 record: 15-6, 11-5.

Roster: Alicia Andrews (Sr.), Marissa Brown (Sr.), Kelsie Staats (Sr.), Jayne Strigle (Sr.), Jaedyn Ossont (Jr.), Lindsey Schoff (Jr.), Brittany Shafer (Jr.), Zoe Shepherd (Jr.), Chloe Stinebrickner (Jr.), Hannah Rook (So.), Chanelle Berrus (So.), Jessica Aden (Fr.), Jordan Lehman (Fr.).

Thousand Islands Vikings

Coach: Tim Filiatrault (2nd year).

2012-2013 record: 5-11.

Roster: Kaitlyn Bond (Sr.), Kyala Clegg (Sr.), Miquella Farris (Sr.), Kim Korcz (Sr.), Hailey Persio (Sr.), Morgan Robbins (Sr.), Julia Bashaw (Jr.), Danielle Bidwell (Jr.), Ally Cornaire (Jr.), LuLu Gamez (Jr.), Reba Gushlaw (Jr.), Paige Mason (Jr.), Ally Reff (Jr.), Megan Rupp (Jr.), Emily Strouse (Jr.), Paige Durdon (So.), Sydney Hunter (So.).

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