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Experienced Pelham Volleyball Team Aims For Repeat

PELHAM, N.Y. -- It could be difficult to replace four of six starters graduating from a volleyball team that won a Section 1 Class B title and reached the New York State final. But not for Pelham.

The Pelicans return nine seniors and 10 players overall from a team that had the finest season in its volleyball program history.

“It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed seeing our team win a sectional title and push ourselves that far,” said senior Tori Bowser, in her third year on varsity.

Along with Bowser, coach Mark Finegan has seniors Helen Gandler, Debbie Kinkhabawala, Amanda Dempsey, Alyssa Luciano, Alyssa Marrero, Maddie Curto, Kate Collins, Taylor Maloney, Rachel Courtien, Julie Duernberger and junior Megan Krause back. Kinkhabawala missed all of last season with an injury.

“I was so sad to see Debbie on the sideline last year,” Gandler said. “She has such a passion for playing the game that we are so glad to see her back.”

Though Pelham is the defending champion, the Pelicans are not taking anything for granted. Pelham understands that it is the team to beat. Pelham’s opponents are going to be motivated to beat the Pelicans, especially in sectionals.

Gandler said Pelham understands how the opponents feel because Pelham was on the other side. The last few years, it was the Pelicans' desire and determination to defeat Hen Hud, which had won the 2009 and ‘10 Section 1 Class B championships. Both finals were against Pelham.

“Everyone came in on the first day, ready to work and ready to push ourselves so that we can be a well-prepared team,” said Bowser, after Tuesday’s practice. “We know the new players will step up because we have some really big shoes to fill.”

Pelham will open the season Tuesday, Sept. 11, against defending Section 1 Class AA champ, Suffern.

“I was really honored to be a part of it last year and it meant a lot to me,” said senior Helen Gandler. “I hope we can do it again.”

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