2nd annual We Serve First girls volleyball classic at Kiski Area draws rave reviews

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Saturday, December 2, 2023 | 10:40 PM


Saturday’s second annual We Serve First girls volleyball classic at Kiski Area was another successful evening orchestrated to support local athletes.

The all-star event, put together by Tim Toy and the We Serve First foundation, assists those who desire to play volleyball at the next level or play club volleyball.

“We want to give those kids who might not have that opportunity a chance to thrive playing volleyball and learning the lessons the game can teach and taking them forward in their lives,” Toy said.

The foundation formed in 2015 by Tim and his late wife Ellen, who was a longtime high school and club volleyball coach.

“She decided she wanted to build something that kept her legacy alive,” Toy said. “We thought that we had a good base of volleyball friends and family that would support this idea.”

A total of 36 seniors from area schools were selected to participate and were divided Friday night into four teams in the style of a fantasy draft.

“It’s tough to try and wrangle up the number of players we need to do this,” Toy said. “Many of the girls are in music, they’re in band, they’re in all kinds of things. I’m really super proud of the group that came into the gym.”

Coaches were Dakoda Fickes (Kiski Area), Tami Caraway (Mars), Rachel Satira (Plum) and Michelle Dickerson (Highlands).

On Saturday, the teams opened with a round-robin and then were seeded in a one-set semifinals. Team gold, coached by Fickes, and team blue, led by Caraway, advanced to the three-set final.

The blue team won the first set 25-22, but the gold team took the second 25-21 and the third 15-10 to claim the title.

Alexa Albin of Thomas Jefferson was named MVP.

“I wasn’t expecting to win,” Albin said. “But I credit my teammates for helping me to play well.”

Albin hasn’t decided on a school yet but wants to major in neuroscience and biological studies.

“I had so much fun these last two evenings,” she said. “I’ve been away from volleyball since our school’s season ended, but it was a really nice way to end my volleyball career.”

Toy said the event was everything he hoped it would be in its second year, and he hopes to see it grow as the years go on.

“I was nervous coming into the event because there are so many moving parts that have to come together for it to work,” said Toy. “But once again, it finds a way to work itself out. It’s time, I think, to make it a little bit bigger. We want to make this the premier volleyball all-star event in Western Pa.”

It was the talent displayed by the athletes that made Toy the happiest.

“I’m proud of the way the girls played tonight. They played with passion, they played with excitement. I could not be prouder of what we accomplished today,” he said.

Other awards went to Hampton’s Avery Koontz for best defender, Hampton’s Emmy Schrom for best hitter, Freeport’s Grace Beach for best setter and Hampton’s Ally Shepner for best teammate.

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