The Lower Hudson Valley is no stranger to success on the volleyball court.
Section 1 has sent at least one team to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships in all but one year over the past decade, while winning state titles in five different years.
Now we’re trying to see which players stood out from all the rest, and which player was the best of the decade.
Read about each finalist below and cast your vote in our poll at the bottom of the page. We’ll reveal our all-decade teams in December — including our own choice for player of the decade.
To be considered, players had to play more than one season of high school girls volleyball. Since the fall 2019 season is still part of the decade, all stats and accomplishments from this upcoming season will be factored in to the selection process of the teams.
Panas, Class of 2014
The middle child of Burcescu sibling triumvirate, Brigitte shattered nearly every program record set by her older sister, Vivian, including most kills in a match (39), most kills in a season (684) and most career kills (1,493). She to back-to-back Section 1 player of the year honors in 2012 and 2013, and led the Panthers to their first sectional and regional titles in program history in 2012. The 6-foot-1 hitter went on to enjoy an exceptional playing career at Northeastern University, where she was named the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year and finished with over 1,000 career kills.
Junior Brigitte Burcescu led the Panas volleyball team to the first Section 1 Class A and state regional titles in program history. (Photo: Ricky Flores/The Journal News)
Panas, Class of 2018
A three-time Section 1 player of the year, the youngest of the Burcescu sisters led the Panthers to back-to-back state championships in 2016 and 2017, while garnering Gatorade New York Player of the Year honors her senior year. The three-time Journal News/lohud Westchester/Putnam player of the year obliterated program records for kills in a season and career that were each held by both of her older sisters. The 6-foot-3 hitter finished with more kills (2,670) in her five-year career than in her sisters’ eight seasons combined (2,544). Following a successful rookie season, Burcescu is entering her sophomore year playing for Tulane University.
Water Panas’ Yvette Burcescu is the Journal News/lohud Westchester/Putnam volleyball player of the year. (Photo: Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News)
Haldane, Class of 2015
The 6-foot-2 middle blocker was an imposing force on both sides of the net for five years with the Blue Devils. Vahos led Haldane to four consecutive state finals – winning titles in 2011 and 2013 – before ending her career with Section 1 and Journal News/lohud Westchester/Putnam player of the year honors as a senior. She is the only player in program history to record 1,000 career kills, and achieved the milestone on her 17th birthday. Vahos recently completed a four-year playing career at James Madison University.
Clarkstown South’s Nastasia Kapustin (21) and Caitlin Collamore (11) try to block a shot by Haldane’s Kelly Vahos. (Photo: Seth Harrison/The Journal News)
Ossining, Class of 2020
The only finalist whose high school career is still active, Vernon is expected to add more to her already impressive resume in her senior year this fall. The 5-foot-11 outside hitter is entering her sixth varsity season, and has been a standout player in the section each year. Vernon has led Ossining to a pair of Section 1 Class AA titles (2016, 2018), and the Pride are favored to successfully defend their title in 2019. Vernon is the reigning Journal News/lohud Westchester/Putnam player of the year and the overwhelming favorite to win it again this season. The Oregon State-committed senior is expected to record her 2,000th career kill this year.
Ossining’s Mychael Vernon (6) hits a kill shot during their 3-2 win over North Rockland in the girls class AA volleyball section title game at Pace University in Pleasantville on Sunday, November 4, 2018. (Photo: John Meore/The Journal News)
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