CORTLANDT MANOR – With sweeps against Yorktown and John Jay — the last two Section 1 Class A champs, respectively — already accomplished, Panas already knows what it can expect when this year’s tournament begins on Thursday.
With another tournament win in the 12th annual Panther Invitational, which included a sweep of 10-time reigning Section 9 Class A champs Cornwall in the semifinals, the perennial front-runners now have an idea of what it could possibly expect on the road to the Glens Falls Civic Center for the state championships.
“I think we’re starting to peak at the right time,” Panthers coach Joe Felipe said after a 25-12, 25-19 final win over Section 9’s Pine Bush. “I like the energy on the sidelines, in the game, and that’s some of the best volleyball we’ve played. It really is.”
The Panthers’ well-rounded offensive attack and precise serving overwhelmed opponents from pool play through the final. Panas has seen Cornwall throughout the season, including its tournament win at Clarkstown South, and Felipe knows he can expect a tighter contest should they meet down the road in the postseason
“I don’t think they played at their best (Saturday),” he said. “They beat that Pine Bush team (Friday) night and taking a look at when we played them, I was a little surprised, but I know they have more than they gave us today.”
Sophomore Yvette Burcescu took home tournament MVP honors for the third time this season, adding to her hardware from the Clarkstown South and Lindenhurst tournaments.
Fellow sophomores Sabrina Patriciello and Lauren Feeley joined their classmate on the all-tournament team. Yorktown senior Catalina Munoz, last year’s MVP when the Huskers won, was the only other Section 1 player from the area selected to the team.
“It’s incredible, that’s all I can say,” said an exuberant Feeley, who added four inches to her vertical leap during offseason workouts after playing seldom last year. “Eventually, it pays off.”
Wounded Panthers: Ardsley made a run to the quarterfinals despite three key injuries to the team. All-section sophomore Christina Chu (nose) and senior Danielle Morano (back) did not play at all Saturday, while all-section senior Nicolina Chenard (back) skipped pool play and played limited time in the quarterfinal.
Panthers coach Dave Ponterio said he expects all three to be back in commission full-time for the Section 1 tournament, which begins Friday.