MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Following a 2011 season in which the Rye Neck varsity girls volleyball team won its league and reached the Section 1 Class C final, the Panthers were treated with a promotion.
Rye Neck was moved up to an even tougher league, playing against larger schools. The Panthers will have to do this without five graduated seniors. However, returning senior Paige O’Donnell and her teammates are ready.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but we are excited and looking forward to it,” said O’Donnell, in her fourth year on varsity.
Rye Neck will enter the 2012 season with seven returning veterans, led by the senior triumvirate of Rio McGuire, Jen Rubenstein and O’Donnell. Juniors Rachel Williams and Sam Espada and sophomores Juliette D’Errico and Kaitlyn Pillig complete the returnees.
“Last year was one of our best seasons ever,” O’Donnell said. “One of our goals was to get past the semifinals and we did that. We also beat Croton, which had beaten us two years ago. We were very happy with our season.”
Rye Neck began practice last week, energetic and enthusiastic, especially the varsity rookies. The only adjustment the veterans had to make was incorporating the new players. It did not take long, though.
“We all love volleyball and are all dedicated to the sport,” O’Donnell said. “We had to get used to each other, and once we did, it has been going good.
“We had our first scrimmage, against Tappan Zee, and it went very well. We felt we came together as a team.”
O’Donnell said the team received a banner for its accomplishments last year, so the Panthers are aiming for another one this year. The only difference is Rye Neck is hoping to have “Section 1 Class C Champion” on the banner.
“We’re becoming better players and a better team every day,” O’Donnell said. “We definitely want another banner.”
Rye Neck will host Mamaroneck on Thursday, Sept. 6, to open the season, then travel to Harrison on Friday for a match.
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