2010 Terrific 21 Girls Volleyball Class AAA All-Star Team

Thursday, January 6, 2011 | 12:00 AM

The "Terrific 21" Class AAA Girls Volleyball Player-Of-The Year and the All-Star Team were selected by the voting of member coaches and Jonathan Whaley, the Creator of the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program on the MSA Sports Network. The 14 person team is composed of ten seniors and four juniors on the squad. It is comprised of four outside hitters, three setters, one right side, one libero, four middle hitters and one libero/right side.


Our "Terrific 21" Class AAA Player-Of-The-Year is 5'10", Senior, Outside Hitter, Jenna Snyder of the Baldwin Highlanders. Jenna was an "all-court threat" in leading the Highlanders to the Section 5 AAA Title and a 12-0 record. In the process they defeated fellow section foe and the defending WPIAL Class AAA champion Mount Lebanon Blue Devils twice. They defeated Penn-Trafford in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs before having their season end in the quarterfinals with a loss to the North Allegheny Tigers. Jenna's skills were readily apparent as she played in all rotations for Baldwin. There were no areas of her game that opponents could exploit! Ms. Snyder was a First Team All-WPIAL Class AAA selection and a First Team All-Section 5 AAA pick this season. She was the most honored "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program player in a single season in the three-year history of the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program. Jenna was a two-time recipient of the "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Match and a three-time "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Week honoree (twice this season).

She is one of the few players in the WPIAL to effectively utilize a jump serve and her athleticism allowed her to make plays that only a few players could make on the hardcourt. Jenna was one of a dozen players from the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program member teams to represent the Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program in western Pennsylvania's First-Ever High School Girls Volleyball Interstate All-Star Match against the Ohio District One All-Stars this season.

Jenna's numbers for this season include (178) kills, (.284) hitting %, (9.89) kills per match, (21) aces, (14) blocks and (256) digs. Her head coach Brandi Sroka said this about her sterling senior standout "Jenna is an outstanding player and I am glad that the other coaches agree. She was voted 1st team all section and 1st team all WPIAL. If you saw her play, she really put on a hitting clinic. I am really glad Baldwin's younger girls had a chance to be a part of our team with her leadership. She will be a great contributor to whichever college she decides on." The media in Pittsburgh used to call Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw the "blonde bomber". That moniker is also very appropriate in describing this year's "Terrific 21" Class AAA P-O-T-Y Jenna Snyder.

She is blonde and she blew up Highlanders opponents plans for defeating Baldwin almost every night during this season.

In addition to Baldwin's Jenna Snyder one of her teammates was voted to the 2010 "Terrific 21" Class AAA All-Star Team and all of our eight Class AAA member schools are represented on the team.

Nikki Oakes – Baldwin – Senior – 5'5" – Setter

For a player to accomplish the success that Jenna Snyder achieved this season there had to be someone very good at "setting the table" for her. That player on the Highlanders was setter, Nikki Oakes. The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown recruit put up some sensational statistics this season. Nikki recorded (585) assists, (43) kills, (.411) hitting %, (28) aces, (1) block and (104) digs. Ms. Oakes is a 2010 ALL-WPIAL Class AAA Third Team choice and a 2010 First Team Section 5 AAA All-Section pick. She was chosen 1-time as a "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Match recipient as well as a one-time "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Week designee. Like her teammate Jenna Snyder, she too was chosen to represent the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program in the First-Ever western Pennsylvania High School Girls Volleyball Interstate All-Star Match against the Ohio District One All-Stars. As legendary Pittsburgh area sports statistician Lawrence "Deuce" Skurcenski likes to say "not too shabby".

Rachel Jones – Upper St. Clair – Senior – 5'7" – Libero/Right Side

Upper St. Clair is a "Charter" member of the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program and Rachel has been one of it's best players during the past three seasons. The University of Dayton recruit took one for the team in 2010 as she spent most of the season playing a different position (Right Side) than the one that earned her the scholarship from the Flyers. She demonstrated her team first mentality and helped her team earn a share of the Section 2 AAA Title with Peters Township with a 11-1 mark. In the WPIAL playoffs this season, the Panthers defeated Fox Chapel in the opening round at home and Shaler in the quarterfinals before falling to the eventual Class AAA WPIAL Champion Pine-Richland Rams in the semifinals. Ms. Jones was chosen First Team ALL-WPIAL Class AAA in 2010 and was picked First Team All-Section 2 AAA this season. She was a 2009 "Terrific 21" Class AAA All-Star and was a 1-time "Terrific 21" Player-of-The-Match this season and is a two-time "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Week honoree during her career. The Atlantic-10 Conference and the University of Dayton in particular are getting one of our truly best student-athletes.

Kelsey Michenko – Upper St. Clair – Junior – 5'11" – Middle Hitter

2010 was the year for Kelsey to enter the spotlight as one of the best "Middles" in not just the "Terrific 21" but the WPIAL. After playing alongside such outstanding "Terrific 21" All-Star front row specialists like Casey Perryman, Ms. Michenko earned her recognition this season. She was selected First Team All-Section 2 AAA this season and garnered a Second Team ALL-WPIAL Class AAA accolade in 2010. Kelsey was chosen 1-time as a "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Match this season and was a one-time "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Week choice this year as well. With the graduation of Rachel Jones, Kelsey will be counted on to take a leadership role on head coach Yoko Nagao's squad in 2011.

Alyssa DiMaria – Seneca Valley – Senior – 5'4" – Libero

This very talented back row performer was the "glue" to head coach Karen Martini's Lady Raiders for the past three seasons. Alyssa was without question one of the best players at her position in the entire WPIAL and the Commonwealth. Seneca Valley finished in second place behind Pine-Richland in Section 3 AAA with a 10-2 record. Overall, this year they went 28-5 and finished as WPIAL Class AAA runners-ups to Pine-Richland but ended the 2010 season the number three Class AAA team in the state and with a third place ranking in the final Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Class AAA Top Ten. Ms. DiMaria was chosen First Team ALL-WPIAL Class AAA in 2010 as well as First Team All-Section 3 AAA this year. Alyssa was chosen one-time as a "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Match in addition to being named 1-time as a "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Week recipient this year. Her honors do not end there as she was named to the All-State Tournament team this year and selected as "one of the Top 50" players in Pennsylvania Class AAA this season. Alyssa's season statistics include a whopping (501) digs. When opponents faced Seneca Valley this season, Alyssa made it very difficult for the ball to hit the ground on their attacks. The "D" in DiMaria definitely stands for defense! She has yet to make a decision on where she will be matriculating next season but some institution of higher learning is going to bring on to their campus one outstanding player, an extremely thoughtful person and an excellent student next fall.

Cate Seman – Seneca Valley – Junior – 5'11" – Middle Hitter

This was Seneca Valley first year as a member of the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program and the Lady Raiders were a great addition to our group of talented volleyball teams. They ended the 2010 season with (4) of their players earning spots on the "Terrific 21" Class AAA All-Star team. That is the most of any of our Class AAA schools. The blonde, lithe and athletic Cate Seman was one of the most dominant front row players in both the "Terrific 21" and the WPIAL this season. Cate led the Lady Raiders in several categories including kills (346), hitting % (.473%), solo blocks (27) and total blocks (66). She also plays some strong defense as her total of (208) digs demonstrates. Ms. Seman was selected First Team Class AAA ALL-WPIAL for the second year in a row and First Team All-Section 3 AAA for the second straight year. She was chosen 1-time as the "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Match, named to the All-State Tournament team this season and like her teammates Alyssa DiMaria, Alex Karika and Meghan Drambel was picked as "one of the Top 50" players in Pennsylvania Class AAA this year. This year's Seneca Valley team was primarily a junior-laden squad. They have come up short in the past two WPIAL Class AAA Championship matches. Perhaps, 2011 will turn out to be the third time being the charm for the Lady Raiders. Should that prove to be the case number "25" will have a lot of impact in Seneca Valley finally getting over the hump and replacing the two WPIAL silver medals they have received the past two seasons with gold. Cate Seman's name is on the list of many college volleyball recruiters and why not. Her diverse skill set (utilizing an array of techniques to put the ball down) makes her a big asset and a player that high school volleyball aficionados should watch closely next season.

Alex Karika – Seneca Valley – Junior – 5'10" – Setter

The Lady Raiders have a number of very talented players wearing the Columbia Blue and Black and the player that wears number "18" is not just one of their best but she is among the best players at her position. Alex is a highly skilled setter who adroitly got the ball into finishing position for Seneca Valley's dangerous front row terminators. Her season statistics clearly point out just how much she contributed to the Lady Raiders finishing as the WPIAL Class AAA runners-up for the second year in a row and ending their season as the third best Class AAA team in the state. Ms. Karika led her squad in assists with an incredible (767) and in service aces with (49). She was second on her team in block assists with (32) and total blocks with (41). Alex was selected to the ALL-WPIAL Class AAA First Team this season after being chosen to the ALL-WPIAL Class AAA Second Team in 2009. For the second season in a row she was a First Team All-Section 3 AAA pick. 2010 was Seneca Valley's first season as a member of the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program and Alex was a one-time "Terrific 21" Class AAA Player-Of-The-Week recipient. Like three of her teammates, Alyssa DiMaria, Cate Seman and Meghan Drambel, Alex was named "one of the Top 50" players in Pennsylvania Class AAA this year. Her return to the hardcourt for Seneca Valley in 2011 is one of the reasons the Lady Raiders will have a target on their backs as the favorite to win their first WPIAL Class AAA Championship.

Meghan Drambel – Seneca Valley – Junior – 5'10" – Outside Hitter

On a team with as many very good players as the Lady Raiders have sometimes it is difficult for (4) players from that one team to get recognized for their excellent play. However, having the lethal, blonde, terminator "bringing the thunder" from the flanks serves as the perfect compliment to Seneca Valley's powerful, junior, middle hitter Cate Seman and allows for both of these standout talents to shine brightly on the court. After being chosen to the Second Team All-Section 3 AAA team in 2009, Meghan was voted to the First Team in 2010. Ms. Drambel was picked as the "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Match once this season and also was the recipient of the "Terrific 21" Class AAA Player-Of-The-Week honors one-time in 2010. Meghan joined her three other Lady Raiders teammates, Cate Seman, Alyssa DiMaria and Alex Karika by being chosen as "one of the Top 50" players in Pennsylvania Class AAA in 2010. On the season Meghan finished second on the team in kills with (266) and contributed (119) digs. Meghan appeared as a guest this season on the weekly girls volleyball sports talk show "What's Happenin in the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program back on October 4, 2010 with a pair of her Seneca Valley teammates, Alyssa DiMaria and Cate Seman. When asked what music she has on her iPod, Meghan said one of her favorite musical artists that she has on there is Nicki Minaj, a rap artist whose debut CD "Pink Friday" made Minaj the first solo female rapper to hit #1 on Billboard's Rap Chart since Missy Elliot did it in 2003. Meghan made some beautiful music on the hardcourt for the Lady Raiders in 2010 and she returns in 2011 to help Seneca Valley get to be the #1 WPIAL Class AAA high school girls volleyball team after two consecutive runner-up finishes. Just like her favorite musical artist Nicki Minaj!

Cara Reese – Fox Chapel – Senior – 6'0" – Middle Hitter

The Foxes had missed the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs the past few seasons. This year they returned to post-season play and in very large measure it was due to the outstanding season that this athletic and influential middle hitter delivered. Cara helped Fox Chapel to a second place finish and a 10-2 Section 4 AAA mark. The Foxes dropped their first round WPIAL playoff match on the road against Upper St. Clair but that in no way detracted from Ms. Reese's accomplishments this year. Cara was a Second Team All-Section 4 AAA choice in 2009. This year she moved up earning a First Team All-Section 4 AAA selection. Her performance was also recognized as she was voted ALL-WPIAL Class AAA Second Team in 2010. The blonde, front row finisher saved some of her most dominating performances for when the MSA Sports Network was "in the house". Cara was a two-time "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Match recipient this season. She ended her high school career by being selected one of a dozen players to represent the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program against the Ohio District One All-Stars in the First-Ever western Pennsylvania High School Girls Volleyball Interstate All-Star Match. For the season Cara had (165) kills, (53) blocks, (25) digs, (8) assists, (21) aces and a 55% hitting percentage. Pretty impressive numbers by any standard. Her head coach Sara D'Angelo said this about her senior standout "Cara achieved many accomplishments this year in our section, in the WPIAL, "Terrific 21", and was a cornerstone for our team and drove our offense. She is a very athletic and aggressive player". Cara has yet to make her college decision but whichever college she decides to matriculate to will be getting a student-athlete who possesses a great upside both on the volleyball court and off.

Olivia Baum – Fox Chapel – Senior – 5'9" – Setter

The second member from the Foxes to merit inclusion on the 2010 "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program Class AAA All-Star Team did not have an opportunity to pile up a lot of numbers this year but her talent was noticed. She had been a part of these recent non-playoff seasons for Fox Chapel but played a key role in their turnaround season in 2010. Olivia's season statistics are (420) assists, (26) aces, (36) digs, (16) kills, (9) blocks and a 73% hitting percentage. Fox Chapel head coach Sara D'Angelo said this about her skilled setter "Olivia had a huge responsibility in leading our offense and despite some injuries early in the season worked hard to be a consistent player for us. She is a tall setter with a great block." Olivia was selected First Team All-Section 4 AAA this year.

Robin Tabaka – Hempfield Area – Senior – 5'11" – Middle Hitter

The Spartans battled for a spot in the 2010 WPIAL playoffs until their next-to-last section match of the season before coming up short in a 5 set match on the road against Penn-Trafford. One of the main reasons that the Spartans stayed in the playoff hunt was the sterling play of their versatile and multi-skilled middle hitter Robin Tabaka. Ms. Tabaka is one of the few front row players in the WPIAL talented enough to play in all 6 rotations. When she was on the court she was a stabilizer as well as the top finisher for Hempfield Area. The brunette, putdown artist played with confidence and determination all season long in leading her team. After being a Second Team All-Section 1 AAA choice in 2009, Robin played her way onto being selected to the 2010 First Team All-Section 1 AAA team. She also was chosen to the 2010 ALL-WPIAL Class AAA Third Team. Robin made an indelible impression early on in the 2010 season when she garnered a "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Match designation (September 14, 2010). She capped her stellar senior season by being selected one of a dozen players to represent the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program in the First-Ever western Pennsylvania High School Girls Volleyball Interstate All-Star Match against a team of All-Stars from Ohio District One. Robin led the Spartans in (6) season statistical categories and tied for first in (2) others. She led the squad in kills with (93), attacks with (219), kills per game with (2.4), solo blocks (30), assisted blocks (23) and blocks per game (1.1). Robin ended the season tied for first on her team with (98) digs and digs per game with (2.6). She showed herself to be a well-rounded individual as off the court Robin was one of two female student-athletes from Hempfield Area High School out of 300 athletes who were nominated to attend the 2010 WPIAL Sportsmanship Summit that was held on November 15, 2010 at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. She also was voted to the 2010 Hempfield Area High School Homecoming Court. Robin has yet to decide on her future college choice but needless to say she will bring an extraordinary amount of volleyball talent and personality to the college campus she ends up attending next fall.

Jen Yardas – Moon Area – Senior – 5'11" – Right Side

Jen's head coach Jason Ferri was effusive in his praise of his senior stalwart "Jenny started late in volleyball in the 10th grade and has really blossomed in the last one and a half years. She is an intimidating force on the right side and was averaging nearly 4 blocks/match. I feel Jenny is certainly one of, if not the top RS, in the WPIAL". Ms. Yardas was chosen as a 2010 Section 5 AAA First Team selection and was honored as well with being named a 2010 Class AAA ALL-WPIAL Second Team pick. Jen capped her senior season by being chosen one of a dozen players from the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program to play against an All-Star Team from Ohio District One in the First-Ever High School Girls Volleyball Interstate All-Star Match. The Tigers with a valuable contribution from Jen kept their streak of WPIAL playoff volleyball appearances alive. They finished third in Section 5 AAA with an 8-4 record and lost in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs on the road at North Allegheny. Jen's final season statistics include (48) kills, (12) assists, (16) digs, an 88% hitting percentage and a 43% kill percentage. Jen is yet to determine her college plans. The blonde, right side assassin still has a lot of volleyball ability that is yet to be tapped.

Nicole Burkhardt – Peters Township – Senior – 5'8" – Outside Hitter

When you walked into the gymnasium to watch the Indians play volleyball this season it did not take you very long to see that number "5" was having an impact on Peters Township's fortunes on the hardcourt. Peters Township had a breakthrough season in 2010 (after going 3-9 in Section 2 AAA in 2009) and their dynamic, brunette, outside hitter, with the effective jump serve Nicole Burkhardt was front and center. The Indians earned a share of their first girls volleyball section title in the school's history and they played with so much determination this season. No player on the squad played with more determination and heart than Nicole Burkhardt. They finished the regular season with an 11-1 record and a tie for first place in Section 2 AAA with the Upper St. Clair Panthers. They were upset in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs at home in 5 sets against Latrobe but that defeat did not mar what Nicole did for the Indians in 2010. Peters Township's first-year head coach Ashley Green did not have any season statistics available for Nicole but had this to say about her senior, all-court specialist. "Nicole was one of the 2010 team captains, she was selected as the "Terrific 21" Player-Of-The-Match for her performance on the road at Upper St. Clair, to the First Team All-Section 2 AAA All-Star Team, 2010 Class AAA ALL-WPIAL Second Team and was one of a dozen players from the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program selected to play against the Ohio District One All-Stars in the interstate All-Star Match". Nicole was named MVP of the 2010 Elizabeth-Forward Tournament. Nicole proves that you do not have to be really tall to be an excellent outside hitter. Her jumping ability and timing at the net made Nicole a player that Indians opponents had to account for if they planned to defeat Peters Township this season. She plans to play volleyball in college but has not yet made her decision. There is no doubt that Nicole has the ability to be an impact player at the collegiate level.

Samantha Helmantoler – Ringgold – Senior – 5'8" – Outside Hitter

Just like Nicole Burkhardt above, Samantha was not the tallest outside hitter in WPIAL Class AAA this season. That did not prevent her from being one of it's best. First-year Ringgold head coach Mark Risko said this about his outstanding "flanks attacker" "Samantha is a very strong and formidable outside hitter". Ms. Helmantoler helped lead her Rams squad to a third place finish and a 7-5 record in tough Section 2 AAA this season. The Rams season ended with a loss on the road at Shaler in the first round of the Class AAA WPIAL playoffs. She was a Second Team Section 2 AAA All-Section pick in 2009 and earned herself a spot on the First Team Section 2 AAA All-Section Team in 2010. The 2010 season also saw Samantha get chosen to the 2010 Class AAA ALL-WPIAL Second Team. Samantha had her senior season highlighted when she was one of a dozen players selected to represent the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program to play against the Ohio District One All-Stars in the First-Ever High School Girls Volleyball Interstate All-Star Match in western Pennsylvania. Samantha is a three-year varsity starter and her 2010 season statistics include (375) kills, (125) assists, (75) aces, (90) digs, (50) blocks, (.235) hitting % and (12) kills per match. Samantha does not just confine her interests to the indoors. She is an avid hunter and is well trained on using her Remington rifle to bag herself a deer. Just like her 375 kills on the hardcourt attest to her volleyball prowess. Samantha is unsure of whether or not she will play volleyball at the collegiate level next fall. She is considering attending CCAC and being a varsity assistant on the Ringgold High School girls team. Samantha is one of the most sincere and thoughtful high school girls volleyball players that I have had the opportunity to know in my three years hosting the "Terrific 21" Girls Volleyball Program.

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