Baldwin volleyball team excels during summer league play

Friday, August 10, 2018 | 11:45 PM

A popular question at the beginning of every school year is, “What did you do on your summer vacation?”

Members of the Baldwin girls volleyball team spent a portion of their summer in league play at the Pitt Elite facility in Emsworth.

Along with Baldwin, 17 other teams participated in the league including Freeport, Pine-Richland, Hampton, Avonworth, Peters Township, South Park, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, Brentwood, Frazier, Shaler and Lincoln Park.

“We played two matches every Wednesday night for six weeks as part of the regular season,” Baldwin coach Chris Kelly said, “with a seventh week serving as the playoffs. Each week, we had anywhere from nine to 12 girls who participated.”

Baldwin finished first in its group and second overall at the end of the regular season before ultimately losing to Freeport in the finals of the league playoffs.

The Highlanders, who defeated CWNC and Avonworth in the playoffs, were sparked throughout the summer by Mackenzie Meis, a senior defensive specialist, and Allison Murray, a junior middle blocker.

“Kenzie and Allison led the way with their play,” Kelly said. “Overall, it was a good experience for the girls and for me. It’s great to see them come back and play for their school after their club seasons. They have a lot of fun together.

“I definitely saw a lot of things I liked, but also a lot of areas where we have lots of improvements to make. I’m optimistic about the upcoming (fall) season.”

Meis was one of four incoming seniors on Baldwin’s summer squad, along with Kerri Herron, a defensive specialist; Flannery Larson, a middle blocker/right-side hitter; and Sydney Milan, an outside/right-side hitter.

“We competed against a lot of familiar teams in our summer league but fell short in the championship game,” Meis said. “As a team, we worked extremely well together and continually pushed ourselves to our fullest potential.

“I was a vocal leader in the middle back position. The seniors are keeping everyone focused and ready for the upcoming season.”

Incoming juniors for Baldwin consisted of Murray, outside hitters Anna Baloh and Riley Lenard, middle blocker Ally Schenk, setter Mia Hampsay, as well as defensive specialists Marlo Mendez and Maggie Zandier.

The sophomore class was represented by outside hitter Bethany Voelker, right-side hitter Megan Garda, setter Jessica Noss and middle blocker Makayla Mangan.

Practice for the 2018 high school season commences Aug. 13. Baldwin, one of 22 teams in Class 4A, is joined by Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Moon, Mt. Lebanon, Oakland Catholic, Peters Township and Upper St. Clair in Section 2.

“We are extremely excited to start the season,” Meis said. “Our team has been practicing and conditioning throughout the summer, and we have high expectations to advance deep into the playoffs.

“Our work ethic coupled with our dedication in practice reflects the outcome we desire for the 2018 season.”

Baldwin opens the first week of section play with matches Sept. 4 at Bethel Park and Sept. 6 at home against Oakland Catholic.

“As always, our section schedule will be a challenge,” Kelly said. “Peters Township (our only section loss last year) will be improved, and Oakland Catholic was added to our section, as well. And we will still be contending with the likes of USC, Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon, Moon and Canon-Mac.

“There are no easy nights during section play, but that’s what makes this so much fun.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.


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