Quakers loaded, again
Orchard Park features three seniors gunning for their second intersectional Class A title in three seasons, who are also among the area's best players.
John Klanac is a three-year starter and has received scholarship offers from Southern Cal, Ohio State, Penn State and Cal State-Northridge. Pete Clauss is the Quakers' all-time assists leader and a two-time Empire State Games gold medalist. He and Eden's Jake Waszak are considered the best setters in Western New York. Pete Freyer also won an ESG gold and is considered the top middle blocker in the area. Ten of the Quakers' 12 players are returnees from last year's 21-8 team that lost in five games in the sectional semifinals to ECIC Division I rival West Seneca West.
The Indians, who won ECIC I with a 12-0 record and lost in the sectional final to Hamburg, are in a rebuilding year after graduating 10 seniors, including All-Western New York selections Kevin Lasky and 6-foot-7 Penn State recruit Matt Anderson. Three sophomores are first-time varsity starters, including setter Tom Yochum. Junior middle Andrew Kosicki, at 6-3, is the only 6-footer on the roster.
Williamsville North has 10 returnees but the player to keep an eye on is 6-7 middle Max Lipsitz, who is among the nation's top 25 seniors, according to USA Volleyball Magazine. He is weighing scholarship offers from Cal State-Northridge and Penn State. . . . Lancaster features one of the top players in the nation in 6-4 junior outside hitter Dale Freier, who trained with the USA High Performance Team with Waszak. . . . Frontier expects big things from senior and three-year vet Don Gleason.
'Dogs have some bite
Though Hamburg lost a heartbreaker to Orchard Park in the Clarence Invitational semifinals, it appears to have the goods to defend its intersectional Class A championship. All-WNY selection Nikolaj Prychodko is the Bulldogs' top returnee. He and first-year setter Colin Murtha, a junior, earned all-star status at the Clarence event. . . . Lake Shore finished second to Hamburg in ECIC II last season and has five returnees, including 6-4 sophomore Jake Fladd, a solid all-around player. . . . Williamsville South's top returnee is 6-3 junior Frankie Pieri, who compiled a team-high 105 kills in 2004.
Canisius favored, again
Canisius graduated six seniors who helped extend its regular-season Monsignor Martin unbeaten streak to 31 matches. Still, the Crusaders are favored to win their sixth straight title as they return first-team All-Catholic selections Joe Montroy and Nick Johnson. . . . St. Francis hasn't won the title since 1999, the same year first-year coach and Red Raiders alum Nick Schmitt earned All-Western New York laurels. . . . Timon/St. Jude appears to have the depth to post its first winning season since 1994 with returning 5-0 junior libero and two-time All-Catholic Tom Dee and 6-5 junior Matt Dunford.
Cheektowaga's 10 returnees are all seniors and the ECIC III and Class B contenders posted a nice early season triumph last week over Lancaster. The top returnees include 6-5 middle hitter Mike Maloney, setter Eddie Hoefler, outside hitter Don McEvoy and kills leader Jeremy Nowak. The Warriors lost to division rival Eden in the sectional semifinals last year.
East Aurora, last year's Class B runner-up, returns sophomore setter Sam Arnold and senior outside hitter Shawn Mascia and adds two 6-5 basketball players in seniors Zack McTigue and Paul Dudek.
Kenmore East may have graduated four starters from last year's 21-3 team, but the defending Niagara Frontier League champion still is considered the team to beat after downing rival Kenmore West in the Ken-Ton Tournament championship Saturday behind the MVP performance of senior setter Eric Buggs. . . . North Tonawanda, Grand Island and Niagara-Wheatfield all have at least four returnees and a desire to surprise the Kenmore schools.
Maryvale's top returners include sophomore Jeff Gutmann and senior Ryan Metz.
Former Hilbert College women's volleyball coach and Mount Mercy standout Shannon Steinwandel will serve as an assistant to Timon/St. Jude coach and husband Justin Steinwandel.
Compiled by Miguel Rodriguez