The Queensborough Community College women’s volleyball team has captured its second straight CUNY Athletic Conference Championship in as many years.
That may come as a surprise to more than a few people because the Lady Tigers had never won a title prior to 2010 in their history.
The key ingredient seems to be the second-year head coach, Jason Demas, who was named the 2011 Region XV Coach of the Year. In the 2011 campaign, Demas led his club to a 21-5 record, which was ranked as high as 18th in the country.
But the going hasn’t been easy for the Brooklyn College alumnus. He took over a team that had three wins in 2009, that he honestly described as “dismal.”
“I walked into a situation where we had some talent that happened to be coming in at the same time last year and we were able to piece together a pretty good team,” said Demas.
Demas built on that talent this year, leading his club to the Region XV Championships where his team lost in the semi-finals to the Fashion Institute of Technology, which eventually went on to win the tournament and advance to the NJCAA National Tournament in Minnesota.
That doesn’t seem to be good enough for Demas or the rest of the Lady Tigers, who fully expect to be back next year.
“We’ve made a winning atmosphere that we created the last two years,” said Demas. “I know all the girls that are coming back know what’s expected of them.”
One girl who won’t be returning is outside hitter Samantha Leoutsakos, who was there to lead the Lady Tigers to both CUNY Athletic Conference Championships. She was nominated for All-American, received First Team All-Region honors and CUNY Athletic Conference Tournament MVP. Receiving those accolades was extremely special to her.
“They mean a lot,” she said. “It means everything I did was recognized by other people than in my school.”
Perhaps the compliments her coach paid her were even more gratifying. Demas said she had the highest IQ of any player he’s ever coached or played with, correcting her own mistakes and making the players around her better.
“Her knowledge is far beyond everybody’s,” said Demas. “Her court awareness, IQ, speed — she always knows what to do at the right time.”
Demas is currently working on a Division II scholarship for her, but Leoutsakos is keeping her options open. Academics will come first, but she admits that volleyball is her game and that she really loves it.
Both coach and player can agree that the last two years have been extremely gratifying. Demas plans on continuing that through recruiting. He’s received more equipment from the school and has developed a plan for the program moving forward.
If the success continues, Queensborough women’s volleyball may be in danger of losing that runner-up mentality, which has energized them the past two seasons.
“We were totally the underdog,” said Leoutsakos. “No one was expecting us to come out and be so strong and kill it like we did.”
©2011 Community News Group
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