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Section 1 Champion Hastings Heads to Regionals

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – Hastings volleyball coach Melissa Otovich led practice for her recently-crowned Section 1 Class C champions Tuesday, but the focus of the workout was different than at any time over the history of Yellow Jackets volleyball.

“There’s never been a sectional championship in volleyball at Hastings,” who led the Jackets to the Class C championship final victory over Rye Neck Saturday. “We’re traveling to Elmira for the regional playoffs, so we’re preparing for the trip and getting ready for a match. We’re really thrilled with winning the section and now we’re having fun, and we’ll see what happens.”

Hastings (13-6) qualified for Thursday’s state regional semifinals against Trumansburg (Section 4) at Elmira South Side High School, 4:30 p.m. where a win would move the Jackets into the regional championship Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets, who were winless three years ago and played to an under .500 winning percentage over the last two seasons, boast a core group of seniors and a mix of athletes who came together this season. Senior co-captains Emma Sweeting and Mary Dailey were all smiles at Tuesday’s workout.

“We really haven’t had time to understand how this happen so quickly,” Sweeting said. “We knew we would be a pretty good team, but I don’t think we expected to win the section until we got to the semifinals against Valhalla, where we played our best match. We got a little shaky in the finals with Rye Neck but we got it done.”

The Jackets have won their last six matches since a loss to Sleepy Hollow on Oct. 19 and Otovich said she knew her 13-6 team might be successful in the playoffs.

“The only losses we’ve had this season were to bigger schools, so I thought we could compete in Class C,” Otovich said. “The team we’re playing is 19-1 and a volleyball power. This will be a great challenge and we’re going to enjoy the experience.”

Dailey said the Jackets sudden success is not so sudden.

“I’d say we’re a scrappy team that doesn’t get down when things aren’t going right,” Dailey said. “We even find a way to laugh between points and that relaxes us. I guess we’ve learned to deal with adversity.”

For Otovich, who was a standout three-sport athlete at Hastings in the mid-1990s, this unexpected success is inspiring.

“We’re hoping to have a parade like the Section 1 champion baseball team did a couple of years ago,” the coach said. “The community should be really proud of this team.”

The Hastings Yellow Jackets are; Floriana Marinello, Daria Bennett, Jasmine Padilla, Erica Freed, Imani Paul, Vanessa Lorenzo, Daisy Lee, Gaby DeJesus, Yolanda Jones, Kristina Felenczak, Mary Dailey, Emma Sweeting and Sara Dybel.

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