Baldwin volleyball shows competitiveness during difficult season

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Sunday, November 15, 2020 | 11:01 AM


It was a season unlike any others in the Baldwin girls volleyball program.

First, there was the coronavirus pandemic to deal with.

Then, after the Highlanders incorporated proper precautions to the virus, they were not able to find their mojo on the court.

Baldwin finished 3-9 in Section 2-4A and failed to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs.

“It was a tough season because we only won three matches,” coach Chris Kelly said. “It was a successful season in that my team played hard and competed every night. We were rarely blown out and a few of our matches were decided by just a few points.

“I’m proud of my team for competing until the end even though they all knew we were not going to be a playoff team. That says a lot about their will to win and character.”

Four Baldwin girls were named all-section.

Junior Alexa Chapla and middle blocker Makayla Mangan were voted to the second team. Middle blocker Heidi Johnston and defensive specialist Lyssabeth Linden were chosen third team.

Mangan and Linden are seniors. Johnston and Chapla are juniors.

“I thought Alexa Chapla had a good season,” Kelly said. “She was very consistent night in and night out and served aggressively all season. We scored a lot of points when she served.

“I was also impressed with Makayla Mangan. She is undersized at her position but was very coachable and played to her strengths, using her speed and court sense to lead us in kills almost every match.”

The 5-foot-6 Mangan was a three-year varsity player and two-year letter winner.

“My Baldwin volleyball career taught me to be a team player and to never give up,” Mangan said. “I would like to thank my coaches, teammates, family and supporters I have had over the years.”

Mangan has been an honor roll student throughout high school and competed in the Pittsburgh Point volleyball program for three years. She plans to play softball in the spring.

“We did not have the height or many experienced varsity players this year, which made it somewhat challenging,” Mangan said. “But overall, I think we competed very well and tried our best.”

There are 17 girls on the Baldwin’s varsity roster including 10 seniors.The senior class is represented by Mangan, Linden, RS Courtney Chapel, RS Nina Dongilli, DS Megan Garda, DS Rachel Kail, S Jessica Noss, DS Grace Reed, OH Louisa Tiriobo and OH Bethany Voelker.

Chapla, Johnston and defensive specialists Taylor Binek and Alayna Meis are juniors. OH Kay Lindenfelser, S/RS Emmalynn Longo and MB Abby Truzzi are sophomores.

Two “big” players for the Highlanders this season were two of the smaller girls on the court — Linden, who stands 5-4, and Megan Garda, who is 5-5.

“Lyss and Megan were very good defensively all season,” Kelly said. “They kept us in a lot of matches with that defense.”

Due to covid-19, the lifestyles for Baldwin students changed this year. Students with last names starting with A to L attend school Mondays and Tuesdays. Those with last names starting with M to Z attend Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesday is a cleaning day and online for everyone.

“The pandemic caused a delay in our summer workouts and practices,” Chapla said. “We eventually found ways to safely conduct workouts in smaller groups and with masks.”

Hopefully, the 2021-22 school year will return to a sense of normalcy.

Baldwin will have seven varsity players back next season, including Chapla and Johnston. Both will be fourth-year players

“It’s hard to make predictions for next year,” Kelly said. “We will have an almost completely different starting lineup. We’ll be much younger, but I’m excited about it. The goal will be to get back to the playoffs.”

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