Baldwin volleyball reflects on another playoff season
By: Ray Fisher
Friday, December 14, 2018 | 8:06 PM
It’s becoming a regular feature of the Baldwin girls volleyball program.
Baldwin finished as the WPIAL Class AAAA runner-up this season, marking the fourth time since 2014 the Highlanders have advanced to the WPIAL championship round.
They were WPIAL titlists in 2014 and ’15 and runners-up in ’16 and ’18.
“I’m extremely pleased with our season,” coach Chris Kelly said. “We made it back to the WPIAL finals and the state playoffs for the fourth time in five years. Our performance during the regular season cannot be overlooked. We played in an extremely tough section, and to finish 13-1 is quite an accomplishment.”
The Highlanders took first place in Section 2-AAAA and ended up 15-3 overall. Several team members landed postseason accolades.
Allison Murray, a 5-foot-11 junior middle blocker, was named first-team All-WPIAL and all-section.
Mackenzie Meis, a 5-1 senior libero, was voted second-team All-WPIAL and first-team all-section.
Riley Lenard, a 5-8 junior outside/right-side hitter, and Ally Schenk, a 6-1 junior middle blocker, were named third-team All-WPIAL and second-team all-section.
Two other honorees were 5-6 junior outside hitter Anna Baloh and 5-8 junior setter Mia Hampsay, both third-team all-section selections.
Murray, Meis and Schenk also were recognized as players of the week by the WPIAL Volleyball Coaches Association.
Baldwin, after receiving a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed, defeated No. 10 Shaler, 3-2, and No. 3 Pine-Richland, 3-2, in the WPIAL playoffs before losing to top-seeded North Allegheny, 3-0, in the finals.
The Highlanders advanced to the PIAA playoffs, where they dropped a 3-0 decision to District 6 champion State College in the first round.
“Our playoff run was a difficult one,” Kelly said. “Both Shaler and Pine-Richland gave us all we could handle, but we were able to find a way to win both matches. I thought that being tested in that way would help us in the finals against NA, but that was not the case. We may have been a bit worn down by the end of that really tough week.”
The outlook for next year’s team is for another strong performance in section and playoff action.
“The expectations at Baldwin are always high,” Kelly said. ”I believe we can be back playing in another WPIAL final next season. We will have six returning starters and some talented young players eager to step up.”
The Highlanders will lose three seniors — Meis, defensive specialist Kerri Herron and right-side hitter Flannery Larson — to graduation.
There were eight juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen on the 2018 squad.
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.