By Joseph Staszewski
Melissa Chu heard all she needed to when given the task of being Francis Lewis’ top setter. The team’s best player, Regina Anthony, along with her other teammates, immediately voiced their confidence in the inexperienced junior.
“The person who told me she believed in me was Regina,” Chu said. “It really helped a lot. She said she had faith in me.”
Chu, who splits some time with classmate Kenya Medina, was thrust into the role because last year’s setter, senior Stacy Paickattu, left the team in the preseason. It left Lewis searching for a setter for the second straight season. Anthony, however, believes they will have both for two years and has tried to cultivate their growth.
“They had never really played in a game,” Anthony, a junior, said. “I try to ease off them. They are new. I am trying to just help them out.”
Lewis Coach Arnie Rosenbaum said his team was a city title favorite with Paickattu in the lineup. He still believes his team can compete to do just that, but breaking in new setters has posed familiar and new challenges. Chu and Medina’s small size has left Lewis struggling to block up from against bigger teams. He believes they have good chemistry with Anthony, a dominant outside sitter, but they need to get better with fellow outside hitter Naya Harris.
“It’s a good combination,” Rosenbaum said of Anthony and Regina. “When the setters start connecting with Naya, we will be better.”
Harris realized her potential last season and was a big reason why Lewis reached the final a year ago and contributed a big nine-kill performance in a semifinal upset of top-seeded Stuyvesant. Rosenbaum likes what he has seen from libero Sandra Arcabascio. Her play and that of right side Michelle Gomez and outside Tennese Gardiner has Lewis off to a successful start.
The team is 4-1 in Queens A East and fell 25-17, 25-17 to defending city champion Cardozo last week. Rosenbaum was encouraged by his team’s performance against Long Island power Sacred Heart at Lewis’ annual tournament. The Patriots, though, later fell to Bronx Science, another possible title contender. Lewis isn’t looking to the plays yet, just continuing to improve before it gets there.
“I feel like we are getting better as a whole,” Chu said. “We are learning how to play together still. It’s getting progressively easier.”