After losing only one player off last year’s roster to graduation, the Huntington High School girls’ volleyball team appears set to turn the proverbial corner and become a consistent winner.
Huntington has been methodically building interest in the program from the ground up. Varsity head coach Lauren Visbal, a Huntington alum who went on to play at SUNY Cortland, has also guided the J. Taylor Finley Middle School team through several winter seasons, which has helped restock the ranks of the high school program with skilled players.
About three dozen players participated in last month’s tryouts for both the varsity and JV teams; it’s the most interest in the program in recent memory and Visbal believes it augers well for the future.
“We only lost one senior; Rebecca Caballero,” Visbal said. “Although she was a key player, I have tremendous confidence in this year’s team and how far we will go.”
Huntington’s top returning players include sophomore outside hitter Cat Jamison. “Cat has gone to several big camps this year, including Colorado, Boston and Harvard in preparation for the season,” Visbal said. “She is a heavy hitter and will be hard to stop.”
Jamison was tapped by USA Volleyball for a specialized training camp in Colorado Springs with the USA Girls’ Selection National A2 Invitational Team. She’s expected to be one of the top players in Suffolk this fall.
The Blue Devils’ starting team will also include senior middle blocker Alexandra Heuwetter. “Alex is the fastest athlete on the team,” Visbal said. “She can move quickly up to the net to defend it. Her hitting has greatly improved, as well.”
Senior Julia Rogan is expected to star at outside hitter. “Julia is very skilled and can place the ball well on the court,” Visbal said. “Her optimism is huge on the court whenever mistakes are made.”
Senior setter Lindsay Saginaw is another key cog in Huntington’s volleyball machine. “Lindsay is a good setter,” Visbal said. “She has improved each year, becoming quicker and setting more accurately. She is good at making decisions on the court while running the offense.”
Seniors Myasia Gaskin, Jaime Iopollo, Deanna Morales and Rachel Moss; juniors Mackenzie Joseph, Caroline Lenze and Shaye O’Beirne and sophomores Maddie Reed and Isabella Toscano are all expected to contribute to the team, with several set to appear in the starting lineup.
“The goal this year is to make playoffs,” Visbal said.
The Blue Devils played their first match of the season last Thursday, suffering a 3-1 setback to Centereach. They were next set to play at Bellport on Wednesday, but the match occurred after deadline.
Huntington is scheduled to welcome Deer Park on Thursday, Sept. 14, 4 p.m.