Coming off an underdog run to the Nassau Class A girls’ volleyball finals last fall, Calhoun has busted out of the gate with five straight conference wins and a couple of first-place tournament finishes behind the dynamic duo of seniors Ella Maldonado and Julia Lawrence.
The Colts might be the team to beat this season but have a long list of challengers led by defending county champion Wantagh, Mineola and South Side. They defeated South Side 25-17, 25-15, 25-19 on Sept. 22 and have Wantagh and Mineola on deck.
“We like the pressure,” Lawrence said of the perception Calhoun is the favorite to go all the way. “We’ve been working for a county championship since we were freshmen and it’s something we’ve always wanted. We have a group that’s really hungry and confident.”
South Side, which fell to Calhoun in the semifinals last fall, was a little shorthanded for this season’s first meeting as senior Ava Kelly, one of its five returning starters, saw barely any action after spraining an ankle earlier last week. Still, the Cyclones (4-1) had their moments with juniors Keira Birk, Sofia Vargas, Delia Ryan and Cate Bradley, and sophomore Cate Cammalleri leading the charge.
“It’s still early and we have some work to do,” said South Side coach Cheryl Scalice, whose team has defeated Kennedy, Mepham, Garden City and Manhasset while dropping just one set. “We need to become more consistent and I think that’ll come in time,” she added. “We’ve played some strong matches but today we were out of sync.