SARANAC LAKE - Volleyball hasn't been one of the stronger sports programs at Saranac Lake High School during recent years. An 0-16 varsity record a season ago is proof enough of that.
But this fall, head coach Diana Schwartz and her Red Storm players want to make that a thing of the past.
With all 11 players on the roster having volleyball experience, Saranac Lake is aiming to be competitive in gymnasiums around the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference. After leading the junior varsity team as coach for the past seven years, Schwartz is moving up to coach at the varsity level for the first time, and said losing is not acceptable.
The 2011 Saranac Lake varsity volleyball team front row from left: Emily Fountain, Emma Miller, Kylie Sapone, Gabby Lewis and Sarah Parker. Back row from left: Nicole Viscardo, Remy Orticelle, Shannon Stevens, Abby Smith, Nickie Trudeau and Sadie Posdzich.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"There's no way we are going 0-16 this year. We want to turn this program around," Schwartz said. "I told the girls I'm hoping for a .500 season, and that might be a bit of a stretch, but our goal is to be a competitive varsity team.
"We have the athletes, we have the height and we have the setters," Schwartz added. "This is the most height I've seen on this team since I've been involved in Saranac Lake volleyball. The question is 'Do we have the heart and desire?'"
The Red Storm will take on a 16-match schedule, and head into the season with four returning varsity players and seven who have competed on the the JV team, including six who move up from last year's squad that posted a 9-7 record.
Sadie Posdzich, Abby Smith and Nickie Trudeau are the three senior returners back on the team and are joined by junior Kylie Sapone as the fourth varsity veteran from a season ago. Sapone was the Red Storm's top setter in 2010.
Emily Fountain, Emma Miller, Remy Orticelle, Sarah Parker, Shannon Stevens and Nicole Viscardo are the six 11th-graders on the roster who played on the junior varsity squad last fall. Senior Gabby Lewis rounds out the roster as a first-year varsity player who was on the Red Storm soccer team in 2010. She played volleyball for Saranac Lake's junior varsity before that when the sport was played during the winter months in Section VII.
This year will be a challenge for the Red Storm as they take on teams like Saranac, Beekmantown, Northeastern Clinton, Plattsburgh and Northern Adirondack, which traditionally have been at the top of the standings in the CVAC.
"As a coach, I'm competitive, and as a varsity team, I expect us to be competitive," Schwartz said. "Things are going to be different this year. If we don't beat the better teams from the bigger schools, I'd love to see us winning two out of the five games in those matches. The girls on this team are competitive. If they weren't, they wouldn't be here."