Bishop Canevin volleyball eyes up 4th straight WPIAL title; Carlynton seeks playoff return

Sunday, September 27, 2020 | 11:01 AM

The season may have started a couple of weeks later than scheduled, but both the Bishop Canevin and Carlynton programs are well underway in the 2020 WPIAL girls volleyball season.

Bishop Canevin is trying for a fourth consecutive WPIAL championship this fall. Only three other current district schools have won at least four straight: Hopewell from 2002-05, Baldwin from 1989-92 and 13 in a row for Norwin from 1973-85.

The Crusaders were hit hard by graduation, including the school’s all-time leader in kills in Alexa Malloy and the program’s all-time assists and aces leader, Maddie Maziarz. However, the team will definitely be in the mix in Class A for its sixth over WPIAL championship, all since 2013.

“My team is young but athletic,” Bishop Canevin coach Keith Walters said as he begins his 30th year of coaching and his 14th with the Crusaders. “We’re looking to win the section and make the playoffs.”

Returning starters include 5-foot-9 senior outside hitter Gillian Golupski, 5-10 senior middle hitter/right side Rutanya Taylor, 5-10 junior middle hitter Abbie Maziarz and 5-9 junior middle hitter Olivia Thomas.

Junior outside hitter Kyla Hartoyo is still rehabbing from offseason surgery.

Other key players include sophomore outside hitter Keira Kozlowski, junior setters Mia Altman and Sani Jones, junior middle hitter/right side Halle Bergman junior libero Erin LaQuatra.

Seniors Izzy Beichner and Natalie Zurbola are defensive specialists.

“Seeing there were no offseason workouts, we are working a lot harder to get ready for play,” Walters said.

Carlynton finished in third place in Section 2 last year. However, its postseason trip was a short one as it lost in a Class AA preliminary round match to Neshannock, 3-2.

“I am very excited for this season,” Carlynton coach Amber Seibel said. “This group is particularly cohesive and competitive. They have been a pleasure to coach from when I first had them as freshmen all the way until now.”

The Cougars are senior heavy in their starting lineup with the likes of 5-11 outside hitter Jane Smith, 5-6 outside hitter Emmaline Stevens, 5-5 outside hitter Brook Maxwell, 5-8 middle hitter Brenna Ault, 5-7 middle hitter Jamie Williams, 5-8 setter Natali Lutsiv and 5-5 defensive specialist Maddie Ciabattoni

Other players to watch include 5-4 junior defensive specialist Mia Higbee, 5-6 junior Mary Duffy, 5-4 sophomore setter Tanner Kephart and 5-6 freshman defensive specialist Joann Hussain.

With the regular season underway after an offseason of change, the biggest adjustment for Seibel’s team has not been in preparation.

“The only unfortunate change we have had to make is not allowing spectators,” Seibel said. “Many of our parents come to every game to support their girls. As many other teams, we have installed cameras in the gym so that parents may live stream the games from home.”

Another change for Carlynton is the section they play in. Realignment moved them from Section 4 to Section 2 in Class AA along with Keystone Oaks and Seton LaSalle.

Now the Cougars have a lot of new faces to battle for a return trip to the playoffs, including Avonworth, Brentwood, North Catholic and Quaker Valley.

“We welcome the change in section,” Seibel said. “We are lucky to remain with a number of competitive teams. We have made steady forward progress in the four years I have been coaching at Carlynton and we plan to continue that motion with whoever our competition is.”

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