FORT COVINGTON The Salmon River volleyball team might have difficulty matching last seasons standout campaign.
The Shamrocks lost their force in the middle, Leslee Loran, outside hitter Keisha Cook, plus four other members from the unbeaten 19-0 Section 10 champion squad. The teams lone loss came in the state Class C Region 2 championship game, falling to Section 2s Voorheesville.
We lost a solid group of girls that have been with me since I started, Shamrocks coach Nicole Deshaies said.
Returning to help Salmon River try to defend its Section 10 overall title are seniors Jackie Benedict, Cassie Boardway, Nicole Smoke, Kaitlyn Pickering, and Kasennakohe David. Also back for the Shamrocks are juniors Erica Martin and Wakie Mitchell.
Smoke is the teams setter and the reigning East Division MVP, while David is a strong defensive player. Benedict may become the stopper at the net for the Shamrocks, just as Loran was a year ago.
Those seven players will be joined by newcomers Augustina Vasquez, Meg Durant, Mikayla Francis-Thomas and Summer Rain Herne, all seniors, along with junior Dominique Jacobs and freshman Raven Oakes.
Malone, meanwhile, posted a 10-5 mark in 2011 and lost five key components to graduation. Missing from this years team are Alison Poupore, Anna Dievendorf, Erin Scott, Kristyn Reynolds and Chelsea Marshall. All five grads played an important role in Coach Michele Thomas lineup.
The lone returning starter is Rachel Lamica, who will be joined by several incoming seniors.
They all are very talented and dedicated to the sport and I look forward to a strong season, Thomas said.
The Huskies will battle against Salmon River, Chateaugay, Brushton-Moira, Massena, and Tupper Lake in the NAC East Division. East teams will play division opponents twice during the regular season and have one crossover game against West Division foes Gouverneur, Madrid-Waddington, Canton, Potsdam, OFA and Edwards-Knox.
Chateaugay, which won the Class D title, finished second to the Shamrocks at 7-3 and should contend again this year. Class C champion Massena could contend with Malone for the East title.
Potsdam and OFA finished tied at 9-1 in the West Division but OFA beat the Sandstoners in five games in a Class C semifinal. OFA returns two of the top players in the division in Felicia Barr, who was named the Most Valuable Player, and Brittaney Barr, who was a first-team, All-NAC selection.
Edwards-Knox, Canton and Gouverneur figure to contend for third place.