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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 7, 2010

Lady Birds host VolleyFest, win with skills and spirit

By Jordan J. Michael

VOORHEESVILLE –– The Lady Birds’ volleyball team finds success every fall season because it relies on consistency. Voorheesville won the Class C title in 2007 and has played in the sectional final ever since.

Voorheesville was 8-0 in the Colonial Council this season before hosting its annual VolleyFest for Homecoming on Saturday. The team remained undefeated by winning all five of its matches, therefore finishing first in the tournament.

“I don’t see any weak spots on this team,” said senior captain Morgan Vandervort, who was with the Blackbirds when it won Class C in 2007. “Every position is strong and we pick each other up.”

The seven other teams featured in VolleyFest –– Saratoga Catholic, Waterford, Stillwater, Maple Hill, Catholic Central, Galway, and Tamarac –– weren’t Colonial Council opponents, but other Class C schools that Voorheesville might see in sectionals.

“It’s like a little preview for us,” Vandervort said after the Birds beat Galway in the semifinals. “We invite whoever is interested in playing.”

At one point, Voorheesville was down, 10 to 17, to Galway, but excellent serving by Sarah Dykstra helped the team tie it up at 23 to 23. Dykstra was awarded tournament MVP at the end of the day.

The Lady Birds, who are ranked first in the state in Class C, got Tamarac in the finals and won, 25 to 10; 25 to 19. Voorheesville over powered the Bengals with strong hits and smart defense.

“We’re hitting the ball really well,” sophomore Mariel McGinnis said. “We can read each other’s moves at all times.”

Head Coach Sandy Vorse said that the season has been “amazing” so far. “These girls are so talented,” she said. “We’ve been working hard on skills for the last few years and now they’re putting it all together.”

Voorheesville has all of its grade levels covered. Setters Libby Bjork and Caroline Bablin are freshman; McGinnis and Anna Feller are sophomores; Dykstra and Jessica Brower are juniors; and Vandervort, Rebecca Bablin, Ellie Wagner, and Alexis Hargrave provide senior leadership.

“The team spirit is high because everyone gets along,” said Vorse. “That’s a neat thing because everyone has a different outlook.”

“It’s important for us to stay together because volleyball is a family sport,” Vandervort said. “We’re always keeping up on conversation.”

The Lady Birds would have two more seniors on the roster this season, but Brittany Denman and Rachel Dykstra decided not to play. “We miss them, but we made a team pact,” said Vandervort. “You’ve got to nip the bad feelings in the bud and move forward.”

Vorse didn’t know what to expect without Denman and Rachel Dykstra, but the team seems to be running just fine. “I thought we needed a little more toughness,” Vorse said. “It can be hard teaching young girls how to be competitive.”

Over the summer, Vorse and Assistant Coach Vanessa Volpe went the extra mile to better their coaching for the Blackbirds. The two made a trip to Penn State, which has one of the best teams in Division I college volleyball.

“We went in search of the latest tips,” said Vorse. “It worked out well and we came back with a lot of new things.”

University of Albany Head Coach M.J. Engerson has also been a huge help to Voorheesville over the past few years. Engerson came in over the summer and ran a clinic with the coaches and players.

“I like to learn from coaches that are much better than me,” Vorse said with a laugh. “We just want to learn as much as possible and reproduce it on the court.”

That seems to be working so far in 2010. The team is undefeated and a sectional run is looming as in years past.

“This is going really well,” said Vandervort, who remembered her days as the young quiet team member, now the captain. “We’re set.”

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