Bishop Canevin wins 4th straight WPIAL volleyball title hours after coach’s death

Saturday, November 7, 2020 | 3:44 PM

On Friday, Bishop Canevin’s volleyball and athletics community learned of the death of 14-year head coach Kevin Walters.

Walters, who took over at Bishop Canevin after a rough year that saw the team go 1-18 in 2006, crafted a sensational coaching record. His teams made the playoffs every single season, and Saturday at Fox Chapel, appeared in the program’s ninth-straight WPIAL title match in Class A.

Not 24 hours removed from getting the news, the Crusaders won their fourth consecutive WPIAL title in memory of their coach.

Bishop Canevin (16-1) won in straight sets, 25-19, 26-24, 25-21, over No. 3 Greensburg Central Catholic (16-1).

“They came in focused on business and said from the minute we get into the door, we’re focused on the volleyball side of things,” coach Danelle Wagner said. “They showed so much strength through the adversity we faced in the last 24 hours. These girls had their hearts broken and their world turned upside down, and they came in so determined to not let anything hit the ground.”

Wagner said this group at Bishop Canevin has proven it can handle anything the world throws at them.

The Crusaders practiced Friday before letting the girls know along with the parents. Wagner said there was a lot of quiet time and a lot of tears, but that they talked about volleyball too.

“Kevin would never want us to be distracted from the game,” Wagner said. “It was his great love besides his wife Janet and his kids. He wanted them to come out and play like he was here with us because he is here with us. Every girl could hear him and what he had to say today.”

The first set started back and forth before the Crusaders had two four-point runs that put them ahead. In the final stages of the set, Bishop Canevin scored six of the final eight points.

The second set was a dogfight, as Greensburg Central Catholic hung in towards the end. Ultimately, it was the Crusaders coming away with an extra-points win, 26-24.

Greensburg Central Catholic stuck around in the final set, but the defense of the Crusaders was too strong, and a couple of runs later, the Crusaders stayed champions.

“We played a little scared, and I didn’t think we got out of funks at the beginning,” GCC coach Courtney Stynchula said. “It wasn’t the best day for us, but we kept up with them and we’re happy about that.”

Wagner said the defensive effort was the best part of the match.

“The biggest thing for us is putting the serves in the court to make the other team touch the ball, but otherwise we played a great game of volleyball,” Wagner said. “Our defense today was the best part.”

The win is Bishop Canevin’s 16th consecutive in the WPIAL playoffs and 64th straight against WPIAL Class A competition. The last loss was the 2016 title match against Greensburg Central Catholic.

In the end, the Crusaders won one in honor of Walters, while the coaches donned blue-and-white ribbons with the initials “KW” on them.

Walters, who died after a six-year battle with cancer, meant so much to the community around Pittsburgh in volleyball and especially to the Crusaders.

An online fundraising effort for Walters’ family had raised more than $6,500 by Saturday afternoon.

“He built this program. He loved the game and loved the girls more than anything. We had girls here that came from past teams and that just shows you what he meant,” Wagner said. “He was like another dad or granddad to some of them. He means everything to this program.”

Bishop Canevin advances to the PIAA playoffs and will enter into the quarterfinals against District 10 champion Saegertown on Nov. 14.

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