Business to take care of...
After a runner-up finish in the PIAA District 11 Class 4A volleyball tournament in 2011 and a defeat in the quarterfinal round last season, Whitehall's boys' team appears primed to reclaim the title it captured in 2010.
The Zephyrs will bring a strong senior class to the floor after they lost just two players from last year's squad.
"We have a pretty solid group this season," said head coach George Cowitch. "We are returning a number of seniors who have been playing together since they were sophomores. All of these guys have really grown as players over the years and gained some valuable experience over the past two seasons.
"They know what happened to them in district play and they are eager to go out there and prove themselves this year. This is one of my best teams. They are talented and experienced in a few ways."
Junior setter Tony Hanna, who suffered an ankle injury in last year's district tournament, is one of the lone juniors in the starting lineup for the Zephyrs, but he will bring back some valuable game experience.
"When we lost Tony (Hanna) in districts last year, it was difficult to replace his contributions," said Cowitch. "He (Hanna) has been looking good, and he should have a big year for us this season."
Joining Hanna up front will be senior hitters Nick Kuti, Nick Sabbagh, and Brandon Gadarani.
Defensively, the Zephyrs will be paced by seniors Brandon Yazji and Tyler George. Whitehall will also be boasted with the return of senior Bobby Doebil, who spent his first three years at Parkland High School.
"Their overall experience will be invaluable for us," added Cowitch of his seasoned unit. "They all have played in their share of big games."
The Zephyrs will begin the regular season this week with matches against Bethlehem Catholic and Northampton. Cowitch is optimistic his team can shake off some early cobwebs from their showing at a tournament in Conestoga Valley last weekend.
While there, the top-seeded Zephyrs went 5-3 overall, but they did not get out of pool play. Cowitch cited a pair of matches against Dover in which they split, and also a pair of defeats to Schuylkill Valley.
"We wanted to go out there and get some rust off," he said. "We started of 4-0 and then went 1-3 the rest of the day. We had some breaks that didn't go out way, and we also had some unfortunate situations."
Yet, he believes his team can quickly regain their stature.
"We'll get back at it," he said. "This team is hungry. After the tournament, we had some great practices. This team has a great chance to get back to the district final. The league (Lehigh Valley Conference) is pretty even.
"Things can look pretty good for us if we go out there and play like we are capable of playing. This group is ready to go out there and prove something to everyone."