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posted Oct 11, 2016, 6:51 AM by John Coletta

High school boys volleyball, Oct. 8

Staff report11:57 p.m. EDT October 8, 2016
Game Concept With Volleyball and Chalk Board Background

(Photo: ronniechua, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Penfield came out on top Saturday as two of the state’s top high school boys volleyball teams found their way to another tournament final.

The Patriots defeated Buffalo Canisius 25-18, 25-20 to win the Penfield tournament. Penfield also defeated Canisius during the finals of the tournament hosted by Eden of Section VI or Buffalo-region. It was Canisius’ only loss of the season.

“It was great for us to measure ourselves against a great team, and they are a great team,’’ Penfield coach Mike Fusare said.

Penfield’s next match is at home against Spencerport, a contender in Class B, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The Patriots will take a 12-0 record into that Monroe County league cross-division match.

► More: Boys l Girls l Football

Gold Playoffs

Quarterfinals: Penfield 25, Fairport 20; Canisius 25, Eden 16; Shenendehowa 25, Burnt Hills 18; Frontier 25, Gates Chili

Semifinals: Penfield 25, Frontier 15; Frontier 28, Penfield 26; Penfield 25, Frontier 17. Canisius 25, Shenendehowa 15; Shenendehowa 25, Canisius 23; Canisius 25, Shenendehowa 20

Finals: Penfield 25, Canisius 18; Penfield 25, Canisius 20

Silver Playoffs

Quarterfinals: Baldwinsville over Churchville-Chili; Victor over Irondequoit; Brockport over Webster

Semifinals: Baldwinsville over Oswego; Victor over Brockport

Finals: Victor over Baldwinsville

All-tournament: MVP, Jack Bittker (Penfield); Jordan Solomon (Penfield); Andy Scott (Penfield); Griffin Schmidt (Canisius); Troy Guche (Canisius); Brenden Spulnick (Shen).

Boys' volleyball: Shen sweeps Niskayuna

posted Oct 6, 2016, 11:07 AM by John Coletta

Brendan Spulnick of Shenendehowa spikes the ball as Jim Cesare ...Boys' volleyball: Shen sweeps Niskayuna By Michael Kelly October 6, 2016 It was a frantic, wild affair last fall when Niskayuna and Shenendehowa tangled in the semifinals of the Section II Division I boys’ volleyball postseason tournament. The Plainsmen emerged that day after dropping the first two sets, and won the area title days later. Wednesday’s regular season matchup was a decidedly more calm affair. During the first set, Shenendehowa head coach John Coletta called for timeout and it wasn’t to discuss strategy. “What we’re missing is energy,” he said he told his players. “We have none.” Shenendehowa woke up to pull away from Niskayuna in the first set, then continued to a straight­sets 25­22, 25­18, 25­23 victory. Junior Brendan Spulnick finished with 15 kills while senior Donovan Suguitan added 10 kills and five aces in the victory, a result which left Shenendehowa at 8­2 and Niskayuna at 6­4 within Suburban Council play. “We had a couple aces and we got going, then we got some big kills from [Spulnick] and that got us going even more,” said junior Dylan Urbanski, who had 27 assists for Shenendehowa. 10/6/2016 Printable Article: Boys' volleyball: Shen sweeps Niskayuna ­ dailygazette.com http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2016/oct/06/shenvball_1006/?print 2/3 Niskayuna’s first­year head coach Thaddeus Sipe tried to let his team play through as much of Wednesday’s match as possible without calling timeouts. He wanted to see his team try to work through problems on its own, but the Silver Warriors struggled throughout the match to play with a sense of urgency. “We need to make sure we’re keeping our intensity up throughout the game,” Sipe said. “This game started out very low­key, it was going point for point, but then Shen brought some intensity and we didn’t bring it quickly enough.” Spulnick ended the first set with a kill for Shenendehowa. The Plainsmen built off that play to start the second set, opening up a 13­7 lead before cruising the rest of the way to a 2­0 advantage. Niskayuna struggled to start the third set, as senior Damien Whittemore had to leave the lineup with a badly jammed finger. Without Whittemore in the game, Niskayuna fell behind 19­9 before putting together a rally that came up a couple points short. “That was tough to lose him, especially defensively,” Sipe said of Whittemore, Niskayuna’s usual presence at the net. Both teams used Wednesday’s match as a scouting mission for this year’s postseason, where Niskayuna and Shenendehowa could again meet. “We definitely can work on a lot of things from this one about ourselves,” Niskayuna senior Jim Cesare said, “but we also saw things about their team.” Coletta was concerned, at points, with the way Niskayuna was able to make Shenendehowa scramble defensively. “That puts us on our heels,” Coletta said. “We want to make sure we keep serve [against Niskayuna] to keep them out of their system.” The victory was an important one for Shenendehowa, as it looks to keep pace with rival Bethlehem for the top seed in this year’s Division I postseason field. Toppling a potential playoff foe was an added bonus for the Plainsmen. “It’s always good to win against the teams like this,” said senior Bailey Bonville, who had three kills against Niskayuna. “This builds our confidence for the next time we’d play them.” 10/6/2016 Printable Article: Boys' volleyball: Shen sweeps Niskayuna ­ dailygazette.com http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2016/oct/06/shenvball_1006/?print 3/3 After dispatching Niskayuna in last year’s postseason, Shenendehowa swept Bethlehem in the sectional final on its way to eventually qualifying for the state final four. With several matches left in the regular season, Urbanski said the Plainsmen know they need to keep getting better each day. “We need to pick it up to make it as far as we did last year,” he said.

They did not play, but they sure can coach These coaches never played the game

posted Oct 5, 2016, 9:28 AM by John Coletta

They did not play, but they sure can coach

These coaches never played the game

By Michael Kelly August 30, 2016
Shenendehowa varsity boy’s volleyball coach John Coletta learned the sport on the fly, first by studying the game, then playing it.
PHOTOGRAPHER: MICHAEL KELLY
Shenendehowa varsity boy’s volleyball coach John Coletta learned the sport on the fly, first by studying the game, then playing it.
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CLIFTON PARK — Fresh out of SUNY Cortland, John Coletta was offered a job teaching physical education at his old high school.

It came with a catch.

He also needed to coach the school’s boys’ junior varsity volleyball team.

“I was scared. I was terrified. Very nervous,” Coletta said, remembering back to his first coaching season with Shenendehowa in 2004. “I knew the kids in the gym would know more about the game than me.”

Coletta had played soccer, basketball and baseball growing up. In college, he ran cross country and competed in track.

Volleyball? He’d played it in youth physical education classes and had taken a course his sophomore year of college that taught the fundamentals of the game.

“But I didn’t leave that class thinking I’d be a volleyball coach,” Coletta said. “It was just something I had to take.”

Like a number of coaches across Section II’s various levels of high school athletics, Coletta got his start in coaching by taking on the job for a team that simply needed a coach. Many — like Coletta, now 34 years old and coming off a 2015 season in which he led the Shenendehowa varsity team to the state final four — have developed from novices to experts, such as Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ volleyball’s Gary Bynon and Amsterdam boys’ track and field’s Kevin Wilary.

To do so is a long journey. For Coletta, it started in 2004 with a JV team he led to a winless season. The lone set that team won was the last it played.

“That was like winning a championship for us,” Coletta said.

The next season didn’t go much better; Coletta’s team won one match. During those first few years, Coletta read books about volleyball, attended clinics and found online tutorials to study — but progress came in slow gains.

“Compared to now, yeah, I had no idea what was going on,” said Coletta, who is now in his sixth season as the Plainsmen varsity team’s head coach. “But I cared. I really cared. Going home, I remember sharing with my wife [Colleen] the frustration of what I was going through with trying to get my kids better. There were a lot of hard seasons, personally, because I really wanted the kids to be successful.”

Amsterdam’s Wilary finds that last part especially relatable. Baseball and football were the sports of his youth, but he showed up anyway at the school’s track as a volunteer timer during his first year teaching as a favor to coach Stu Palczak. Soon he was attending practices. Then he was an assistant coach. Next, he took over the boys’ program and focused most of his efforts on teaching the school’s sprinters.

That role quickly became a more important one than normal. In Wilary’s second season as head coach, sprinter Izaiah Brown — now a sophomore at Rutgers University who is coming off a freshman season in which he won the 400-meter dash at both the Big Ten indoor and outdoor championship meets — showed up, pushing Wilary to spend even more time learning the finer points of sprint training.

“I didn’t want to screw him up,” Wilary said of Brown, who won multiple state championships in high school. “Having him, there was pressure. There were such high expectations for him every year and one thing I wanted to make sure he did was get better every year so he could get to where he is today.”

By his third year of coaching volleyball, Coletta started to make significant progress. He’d started playing the game on a men’s team, and his teammates there taught him how to use his 6-foot-4 frame on the court.

“That really made a difference for me,” Coletta said. “They’d kind of coach me as we played.”

Coletta gained enough comfort during the next few years with the sport he quickly grew to love to accept the varsity coaching position prior to the 2011 season. By his fourth season at the varsity level, he’d developed a high-level command of the sport, able to break down the game’s complicated nuances in a direct fashion and with complete confidence.

It took Burnt Hills’ Bynon about a decade to get to that point, too. Despite all the winning his program has done since he took control of it in 1988, Bynon said it wasn’t until the 1997 season that he fully shed the final remnants of being a “basketball, football guy” in his youth.

“That’s when I really started to feel comfortable with our system, how to train our kids,” he said. “That took our program to another level.”

Bynon’s now the president of the New York Volleyball Coaches Association, and his program has won six state titles. What keeps him motivated, though, is the memory of when he felt inferior to some of his coaching peers.

“One of the reasons for the success of people who coach a sport they didn’t play is that they . . . go out there and feel like they have to prove themselves to other coaches that played the game,” said Bynon, whose program carries a 377-match league winning streak into Suburban Council play this year. “I don’t ever want to not be prepared because of [my past inexperience]. I still to this day think that way.”

At times, too, those early days of inexperience pay dividends for a coach. During Shenendehowa’s run to the state tournament last season, the Plainsmen’s toughest match came during the sectional semifinals against Niskayuna when they dropped the first two sets.

“Everyone was all tight. Frantic,” said Ross Halpern, Coletta’s assistant and former player during those JV years. “But you looked over at John, and he’s sitting there, smiling, saying we’re going to be OK. . . . He kept everyone cool, relaxed and focused.”

Shenendehowa won the next three sets to advance to the area title game. Coletta’s demeanor throughout that semifinal stayed calm, as is his custom. Even when a bad call goes against his team, Coletta keeps his cool. He developed that even-keeled approach back when he was starting out as a coach, and knew his knowledge of the game needed improvement before he’d ever take on an official

“The whistles would blow sometimes and I’d be like, ‘What’s happening?’” he remembered, laughing.

Now, he knows, but wants to know more. Volleyball has become Coletta’s game, and he’s as much a teacher of it as he is a student.

“But that’s one of the neat parts about volleyball: trying to be a student of the game and understanding there’s more than one way to do things,” he said. “So I’ll always be open to learning new things with it.”

Shen Boys Volleyball Camp- Draws a Crowd

posted Oct 5, 2016, 9:27 AM by John Coletta   [ updated Oct 6, 2016, 11:04 AM ]


Boys’ volleyball camp draws dozens

Camp director John Coletta, right, is shown during a boys' volleyball camp in Clifton Park Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)Camp director John Coletta, right, is shown during a boys' volleyball camp in Clifton Park Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

POSTED BY: MICHAEL KELLY AUGUST 10, 2016

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Sportswriter

CLIFTON PARK — When John Coletta started running the Shen Boys Volleyball Camp a handful of years ago, only two dozen campers showed up.

“It’s gone up from there,” he said while watching nearly 60 athletes in grades five through 12 work on their serves at this year’s camp, which ran Aug. 1-5 at Shenendehowa’s Gowana and Koda middle school gymnasiums.

“We’re going in the right direction with it,” the Shenendehowa boys’ varsity volleyball coach later added. “Especially with us being a fall sport, a lot of parents and people in the community think [first] about soccer and football — maybe even fall baseball — as the main sports, so it’s nice to see some awareness for another sport that we’re doing well in.”

In 2015, the Shenendehowa boys’ program won a Section II Division I championship, shedding its runner-up status with a straight-sets victory against Bethlehem. In each of the four previous years, the Plainsmen had lost in the championship match to Bethlehem.

At this year’s camp, athletes with a range of experience participated. While some boys were varsity candidates for the fall or have several years of competitive playing experience, others were relative newcomers to the game.

Nicholas Pascual is shown during a boys' volleyball camp in Clifton Park Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Nicholas Pascual is shown during a boys’ volleyball camp in Clifton Park Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

“We have some players that are really brand new to the game,” Coletta said. “They’ve never played formally, except maybe they’ve played in a [physical education] class.”

Regardless of a player’s experience level, Coletta said the camp started each participant at the same point: the beginning.

“We start our camp with the basics for everyone,” he said. “For the returning kids, that’s good because it helps reinforce things for them. For the brand-new kids, it’s great because they get a clean slate to get to learn our system or how to pass.”

Besides a collection of fellow Shenendehowa coaches, Coletta also had some special helpers in running this year’s camp: alumni from last year’s title team. Coletta said the participation from those athletes, in their new roles as teachers of the game, was the best addition to this year’s camp.

“They wanted to come,” he said. “They reached out to me to see if they could come help, and I said ‘Absolutely.’ ”

 

Shen boys' volleyball falls in pool play

posted Nov 23, 2015, 6:26 AM by John Coletta

Shen boys' volleyball falls in pool play

'This team really is something special'

Michaela Kilgallen November 21, 2015
Mitchell Debortoli (15) and Tyler Schnaible of Shenendehowa go up for a block aGainst Cicero-North Syracuse Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 during the NYSPHSAA boys' volleyball championships at Suffolk County Community College.
MICHAELA KILGALLEN
Mitchell Debortoli (15) and Tyler Schnaible of Shenendehowa go up for a block aGainst Cicero-North Syracuse Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 during the NYSPHSAA boys' volleyball championships at Suffolk County Community College.

“If you can make history it’s always great,” senior Tom Hurley said. “This team really is something special.”

Hurley and his teammates are the first Shen team to ever compete in the NYSPHSAA boys' volleyball championship, hosted Saturday at Suffolk County Community College. The Plainsmen got knocked out in pool play.

“It was a phenomenal experience,” senior Mitchell Debortoli said. “I’m proud of this team that I got to be on.”

Although they didn’t make it into the final round, earning a spot in the championship classifies Shen as one of the top four boys' volleyball teams in New York, along with McQuaid, Cicero-North Syracuse and the 2014 champions, Sachem North.

“I think at the end of the day when you’re facing the best teams in the State of New York it comes down to ability level across the board and not making mistakes,” coach John Coletta said. “Today we made a few mistakes. Knowing that we know what to work on in the off-season to make our program that much better is extremely valuable.”

Each team played a total of six sets, two against every competitor. Shenendehowa ended the day with one win and five losses.

“I think at times the boys felt that maybe they had a little more to give in the games,” Coletta said. “New environment, new situation being in the state final four. I think they realized they had what it takes.”

During the team’s final set, they rallied against McQuaid, the champions from 2010-2012. Shen fought back only losing by four, compared to 25-11 in the first set.

“I think overall we didn’t play to our potential,” DeBortoli said. “But I’m happy with the way it ended.”

This season was the last chance for Shen’s seniors who have seen the team’s progression over the last few years.

“We knew we had the talent but we just had to put it all together,” Hurley said. “Just click at the right times, play good and make it to states and see what happens.”

According to Coletta, at the beginning of the season, achieving this level of play was a hope but far from an expectation. And he says the same mentality still stands for next year.

“My expectations are going to be exactly the same as this year: try and play the best volleyball each day, try and be the best team that we can each day,” he said. “If that happens to take us here that will be fantastic but we know that we’re going to try and focus on being the best team we can be.”

Despite the numbers up on the scoreboard, the championship experience was a silver lining to the day’s losses.

“It was a lot of fun getting to leave school yesterday and getting to have one more weekend of volleyball together was great,” Coletta said. “It was everything we hoped it would be.”

Time Warner Cable News Sectional Final Video

posted Nov 17, 2015, 9:11 AM by John Coletta

News Channel CBS 6 - Sectional Final Video

posted Nov 17, 2015, 9:05 AM by John Coletta   [ updated Nov 17, 2015, 9:06 AM ]

Shenendehowa Sectional Champions

posted Nov 17, 2015, 7:58 AM by John Coletta

Shenendehowa boys’ volleyball wins title match in stunner, ends Bethlehem’s reign

Members of the Shenendehowa boys' volleyball team celebrate with the championship plaque after defeating Bethlehem in the Section II Division I title match Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 in Rensselaer. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)Members of the Shenendehowa boys' volleyball team celebrate with the championship plaque after defeating Bethlehem in the Section II Division I title match Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 in Rensselaer. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

POSTED BY: MICHAEL KELLY NOVEMBER 7, 2015

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Sportswriter

RENSSELAER — Each member of the Shenendehowa boys’ volleyball team knew what was expected of the Plainsmen in Friday’s Section II Division I championship match.

They were supposed to give their all, maybe take a set against the section’s five-time defending champions, and then suffer another loss in the finals to Bethlehem.

“We knew we were the underdog and we had nothing to lose,” said Shenendehowa senior Sean Dillon, who said he knew few people expected much of the Plainsmen in the final. “We just really wanted to beat them.”

Somehow, the Plainsmen got their wish.

With a stunning performance, Shenendehowa topped Bethlehem 3-0 with scores of 25-23, 25-19, and 25-15. The victory came in the Plainsmen’s fifth consecutive trip to the section’s championship match, with Shenendehowa losing in each of the first four to Bethlehem.

“They played tonight like they had nothing to lose, and that’s how you win,” Bethlehem head coach James O’Keefe said. “Shen played lights out. They played their best.”

Shenendehowa advances to the regional round of the state playoffs, and will next play Saturday, Nov. 14, at Guilderland High School.


PROGRAM REGIONAL CHAMPIONS

posted Nov 17, 2015, 6:19 AM by John Coletta   [ updated Nov 17, 2015, 7:55 AM ]

Shenendehowa volleyball teams win regional championships

Members of the Shenendehowa girls' volleyball team pose together after winning a regional championship Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. (Photo provided)Members of the Shenendehowa girls' volleyball team pose together after winning a regional championship Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. (Photo provided)

POSTED BY: MICHAEL KELLY NOVEMBER 15, 2015

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Sportswriter

CLIFTON PARK — Both Shenendehowa High School volleyball teams won regional championships Nov. 14, with the boys’ team topping Clarkstown South and the girls’ squad beating Baldwinsville.

With the victories, both John Coletta’s boys’ team and Lori Kessler’s girls’ team advanced to the Nov. 21 state championship tournaments. The boys will play at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, while the girls will play at the Civic Center in Glens Falls.

At Guilderland High School, the Plainsmen boys won in four sets — 25-19, 25-18, 21-25, 25-18 — to capture a Division I regional title. Donovan Suguitan had 11 kills and 11 digs for Shenendehowa, while Mitchell DeBortoli added 16 kills and Thomas Hurley had 40 assists.

At Chittenango High School, the Plainsmen girls also won in four sets — 16-25, 25-12, 25-23, 26-24 — to take home a Class AA regional title. Leading the way for Shenendehowa was Nicole Adams with 19 kills, while Julia Paliwodzinski added 39 assists, Rachel Millington and Hannah Elmer each had 11 kills, and Charlotte Macken collected 21 digs.

Members of the Shenendehowa boys' volleyball team celebrate with the championship plaque after defeating Bethlehem in the Section II Division I title match Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 in Rensselaer. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Members of the Shenendehowa boys’ volleyball team celebrate with the championship plaque after defeating Bethlehem in the Section II Division I title match Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 in Rensselaer. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Besides their successes in regional action, a number of Shenendehowa volleyball athletes recently received all-league honors.

From the boys’ team, five players received recognition. On the league’s first team from the Plainsmen were DeBortoli, Sean Dillon, and Hurley; earning honorable mention status were Suguitan and Colin McCabe.

From the girls’ team, Adams, Macken, and Paliwodzinski received first-team honors; Millington was a second-team choice; and, Elmer was an honorable mention.

Boys Volleyball Vs. Bethlehem 10/2/15

posted Oct 8, 2015, 6:00 AM by John Coletta

http://yourcliftonpark.com/2015/10/06/shenendehowa-athletics-report-oct-6/

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