By Matt Smith
Thursday, September 24th, 2009 at 4:51 pm in Girls Volleyball.
The Albany High School girls volleyball team might have solidified itself as the team to beat in the Bay Shore Athletic League, topping rival St. Mary’s in four games on Wednesday afternoon.
Behind 15 kills from freshman Kyra Holt, and 33 assists from sophomore McKenzie Giblin, the Cougars won in four games, 25-20, 25-17, 21-25, 25-20.
The win improves the Cougars, who are ranked fifth in the Bay Area News Group’s East Bay Rankings, to 5-0 in BSAL play while rival St. Mary’s falls to 3-2.
“The win felt great and St. Mary’s is a match I look forward to because they always play with passion and give us a good game,” Albany coach Sarah McClendon said. “We kept our composer and stuck to our game plan. Every time we play we solidify our passing and improve on the speed of our offense.”
The win also makes Albany 12-3 overall, while St. Mary’s is 9-5. St. Patrick-St. Vincent is 5-0 in league and Salesian is 4-1 and they might prove as the biggest challenge to Albany.
St. Mary’s coach Sarah New, however, thinks the Panthers are right there with Albany and need to clear some mental hurdles.
“There is really only one thing we need to improve, and that’s the way we view ourselves,” New said. “I think Albany, although they are a good team, comes with a big intimidation factor from the past. I think our potential is there to succeed. The question is when will we believe it for ourselves. Once that comes into play, everything else will work like magic.
“We have a setter (Olenka Tuleja) who is young and learning quickly after never setting before and an offense that is just waiting to put the ball away. With a little more work on eliminating errors, I think the pieces will fall into place and we will be a force to be reckon with towards the second half of our season.”
The Panthers have wins over Salesian and Carondelet this year, so they have proven they can be very dangerous behind hitters Dana Balding and Kimberly Grant.
So if Albany is the favorite in the BSAL, who are the favorites in the other leagues? Here is my two cents on that…
ACCAL: Gotta go wtih Alameda here. Steve McAdam always has a tough team. I know very little about this league (since coaches from this area don’t particpate too much for some reason) but I think Berkeley is supposed to contend with the Hornets.
BVAL: Until Deer Valley loses, I will stick with the Wolverines. They topped Liberty in three to send a message. Heritage might very well be the team to rise up and take Deer Valley down, but one loss doesn’t mean Liberty won’t be there in the end.
DFAL: This league features two of the best teams in the entire East Bay; Miramonte and Campolindo. The Matadors won it last year, and this year the Cougars are ranked No. 1 in the East Bay. I’m not picking between them, because they play Tuesday so I’m gonna take the politically correct route. I will say that one of these two teams is sure to win the league.
DVAL: I’m gonna go with the Broncos of Northgate. Jim Changaris always has his teams ready to play, but don’t sleep on Berean Christian. This little school is tough. Clayton Valley is a darkhorse as well.
EBAL: This league, as usual, will be the most competitive. Right now, I gotta say Amador Valley is the team with the target on its back. I really don’t think Granada and Carondelet are too far off and will present a major challenge. I will say that the winner of this league won’t do it undefeated.
HAAL: It’s pretty much Bishop O’Dowd’s league to lose, especially with Castro Valley stumbling a little bit out of the gate. However, do not count the Trojans out. Moreau Catholic is going to be very, very tough for anyone this year, and San Leandro is a team starting to believe it belongs so watch out.
MVAL: I wish I knew more about this league, but I don’t. I would have to say Mission San Jose is the team to beat with Irvington being right there. I think Washington and Logan are teams capable of making a run to the top also.