As the Kings Park Volleyball team finished off the final two games of its last scrimmage before the season starts on Friday, the girls looked loose and relaxed.
The team laughed heartily together as it huddled with second year coach Elizabeth Manly between games and joked and congratulated each other after every winning point.
That’s what you would expect from a team that spent the spring and summer together, working to improve on last year’s 5-12 finish.
“In the offseason a lot of them have been playing on club teams,” Manly said. “I didn’t coach them in the club league but we played a spring league all together and that helped. They also played in a beach league together and then we also had numerous open gyms in the spring time where they came down and I was with them and we worked on skills.”
It’s that hopefully extra developed chemistry and returning players in key spots that makes Manly feel like this year will be different.
“I hope and expect to make the playoffs,” she said. “With the offseason work that these girls have done it’s really showing. I’m really looking forward to the competition.”
The real competition begins against Commack on September 9, before league play opens up September 12 against Eastport-South Manor, a perennial contender in league V and a team Manly looks forward to her team matching up against.
“We look forward every year to playing Eastport-South Manor,” she said. “They’re always one of the top teams in our league.”
Kings Park battled Eastport in a thrilling match last year that saw them force a fifth and deciding game and nearly rally back from 10-1 down in the finale, only to fall short.
Manly thought 2010 got off to a good start for Kings Park but a spate of injuries derailed any momentum they had built up. But with returners such as four-year varsity middle hitter Jessica Levonick and three-year varsity setter Kayla Koeleco, Kings Park is poised to improve in 2011.
Koeleco, the setter, is the quarterback of the Kings Park team, running the entire offense. Manly expects a breakout year from her. Levonick is charged with controlling the middle of the court, something Manly thinks she will do very effectively.
Outside hitter Joelle Goldstein, libero Kaitlyn Kreitzman and Sarah Frisina are other key contributors for Kings Park in 2011. If they can put it all together and stay healthy Manly sees her team making a run at the playoffs.