Weekly Feature

2014-09-10 / Sports

Lady Bulldogs volleyball has talent to make a big jump

by BRANDON KILIJANSKI
Reporter

Last year’s Kenmore East girls volleyball team struggled to win more than a single match. However, with the core group coming back having a year under their belt, a worst to first scenario isn’t out of reach.

“We have a banner in our gym that is empty,” new head coach Sean Leaderstorf said. “This could be the year we add 2014 and be the first NFL champion. All of the girls are subscribing to that expectation and I’m really optimistic about our chances.”

Leaderstorf was the Kenmore East junior varsity girls coach for the past four years. He is replacing Nicole Hoover who was on maternity leave and just recently had her baby.

He is familiar with all of the girls on the team as many of them passed through his JV program.

“They all know how I operate and what my philosophy is,” he said. “They are comfortable and know my expectations.”

The Lady Bulldogs are led by a pair of outside hitters — Sara Taylor and Paige Palmer — who Leaderstorf said both have a legitimate chance of earning All-Western New York status this year. Taylor is a powerful outside hitter, while Palmer has been hitting at all three front row positions throughout her career. Both were selected as captains for this season.

“Sara is a dynamo, she can pound the ball,” Leaderstorf said. “She can be a huge asset for us as far as kills. She also has unbelievable back row ability, so she will see a lot of playing time. Paige went to a bunch of camps and has developed into a really versatile power player. You can expect a lot of blocks from her and as many kills as Sara. She has a powerful swing and really great court awareness.”

Running the offense this year is sophomore setter Kendall Mills. She was up on the varsity team last year and has excellent court awareness.

“She has good touch and knows when to send it over on two,” Leaderstorf said. “She knows how to find the soft spots in the defense and is a really intelligent player. I’m really confident in her ability to pick out the weak areas in the opponent’s defense.”

Some of Mills’ other options on offense include senior Nicole Giliforte and juniors Minde Simons, Raynah Barron and Taylor Windsor.

Simons is known as an ultra competitor, while Giliforte and Windsor each have above average verticals, and Barron hits smart shots.

The Lady Bulldogs have the making of a very versatile style of offense taking shape.

“We are trying a lot of different things to see what works best,” Leaderstorf said. “We have a lot of girls that know the game and will play their hearts out for the team. We are very versatile to put points on the board and can take points away with our blocking. Potentially, we can be one of the best blocking teams in the NFL.”

Everything is looking optimistic for the Lady Bulldogs and that has raised the expectations for Leaderstorf in his first season as the head coach.

He said that this year’s squad should win at least half of their matches. His goals for the team are a bit more simplistic though.

“I want them to improve every day so by the end of the season we have improved all areas of our game,” he said. I want to be a competitive volleyball program.

email: brandonk@beenews.com

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