The Midwood girls volleyball team lost its first league match since 2004 last season, to Secondary School for Law, Journalism and Research, and had to share the PSAL Brooklyn A3 title. To make matters worse, SSLJR was a first-year program and its coach, Mike Salak, is a Midwood grad.
But that isn’t what coach Thomasina Lenzi remembers most about last year. The Hornets, Brooklyn’s perennial powerhouse, got their revenge on the Spirits in a tiebreaker after all.
“What irks me is that we didn’t play well in the playoffs,” Lenzi said.
Midwood beat Long Island City in the first round, but was ousted by Bayside in two sets in the second. The Hornets envisioned a deeper run, but the coach blamed the loss on conditioning and speed.
“This year, we’re quicker,” Lenzi said. “We always had the power and skill, but footwork is the key.”
Midwood, which has 12 returning players, will once again be led by 6-foot junior middle hitter Shannon Appel, who was already one of the top players at her position in the PSAL but has improved this year, according to Lenzi.
“She’s really wailing on the ball,” the coach said. “She’s hungry now.”
Anna Aleksandrovskay will step into replace Christine Stefanello at setter and she was an easy choice. Aleksandrovskay set late last season when Stefanello went down with an injury.
“She’s a really good defensive player, but she’s gonna be taking the lead now,” Lenzi said.
Traci Kent returns to the outside and the 5-foot-10 Jackie Handy will be alongside Appel in the middle. Sam Edelstein, who is also 5-foot-10, will also see time at middle off the bench. Geena Bell will get significant minutes in the back row and Desarie Torres will play outside and right side. Pei Ling Chen, an outside/defensive specialist, and Migdalia Lewis, an outside/right side, should come off the bench. Lenzi is notorious for using her entire bench %u2013 and it’ll be a big one with more than 20 players on the roster.
“We’re deep,” Lenzi said. “We’re pretty happy right now.”
The coach also said, with this veteran group, that she’s been able to use more combinations and experiment with different rotations. More strategy is going to be used this year at Midwood.
“They can handle it now,” Lenzi said.
Will all of that translate into a deep postseason run? It’s very possible. As good as Midwood has been in Brooklyn, the Hornets have not made it past the second round of the playoffs since 2003. This year’s squad is dying to change that.
“We just want to get out of that spot, break the hex,” Lenzi said, “and get into the final.”