All eyes on Barnstable volleyball stars

“Confidence always wins” has been the mantra for the Barnstable girls’ volleyball squad. As evidenced by 14 state championships, the mental game has certainly paid off.

Coach Tom Turco’s girls, consistent contenders on the state level, have even been recognized nationally, placed 11th on MaxPreps Xcellent 25 rankings.

“I hope other teams expect nothing. You’ve got to earn respect all over again,” said Turco, who has more than 500 career wins and was named National High School Association’s 2012 Coach of the Year. “It’s nice and that in itself is an honor, but it doesn’t give us one point on the board.”

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Despite nine undefeated seasons, including last year’s 23-0 run, the Red Raiders have a monumental challenge this season after graduating the core of its offense, including Division 1 Player of the Year Kaylee Deluga.

But, the team’s confidence has not wavered.

Left to steer the squad is senior setter and Division 1 All-State member Kayla Crook, who compiled 680 assists last season, and reached the 1,000 mark for her career. Turco is also looking for senior outside hitter Regan Bristol to produce beside senior Colleen Coen, who was a backup to Deluga last season. The most pleasant surprise on offense for Turco thus far has been Hannah Andres.

Depth seems to be a concern for many contenders, but luckily for Lincoln-Sudbury, the Division 1 state semifinalists are stacked with returning seniors, featuring firepower from Alex Braverman, Mandy Sifferlen, and Natalie Wohl. This year’s team hopes to improve on its 18-3 season, which ended when it fell to Central Catholic.

Those Raiders are looking at a rebuilding year after graduating nine, including offensive powers Alex Borelli and Hunter Tuck and setter Alexis Michal.

Brookline, who made the Division 1 state semifinals has a similar feat with the loss of one of the best hitters in the state, Maya Midzik. The focus will be on junior middle blocker Lisa Tarasyuk and new coach Kevin Russell.

Marlboro, Newton North, Melrose, and North Quincy will also be showstoppers. North Quincy is missing passing prowess and the team’s catalyst Olivia Umoren, who graduated, but the Red Raiders should see numbers and versatility from her sister Maya, who puts up a solid block. Melrose returns Division 1 All-State teamers Brooke Bell and Sarah McGowan, who anchored one of the best passing teams coach Scott Celli has seen.

Reading will also be a competitor in the Middlesex Liberty with two returning all-stars, setter Hannah Conroy and outside hitter Morgan O’Brien .

The player to watch this year will be Frontier’s Cassidy Stankowski, who returns to the Red Hawks after attaining her 1,000th career kill, 1,000th career dig, and 100th career match.