Bishop Canevin’s Alexa Malloy reaches milestone, eyes PIAA volleyball title
Thursday, October 3, 2019 | 7:56 PM
Seeing Bishop Canevin’s Alexa Malloy step onto a volleyball court, it would be easy to assume she is a defensive specialist. Her 5-foot-6 frame — maybe 5-7, if you ask coach Kevin Walters — looks the part.
Then she launches into a 30-inch vertical jump, and it’s easy to see why she is the most prolific hitter in the history of a successful program.
Malloy, a senior, recently became the first player in Crusaders history to record 1,000 career kills. And she still has half a season left.
Malloy achieved the milestone on senior day, and fittingly, she did it off a set from Maddie Maziaraz, with whom she has played since their days in elementary school at Our Lady of Grace.
“I’ve never been nervous to hit before,” she said, “but on the last one, I was like, ‘What do I do?’”
Said Walters: “She’s kind of unique. I’ve never had anybody (her height) that can jump and attack on a men’s net.”
Malloy, who plays right-side hitter, attributes her strong jumping ability to spending her youth as a gymnast. That helped her build leg strength, and she maintains it by lifting and doing drills with her father, Bob, who also was her first coach in the sport.
Many of her 1,000 kills have been achieved by simply overpowering opponents. But to play at the next level — she will join the program at Cal (Pa.) next season — she would need more than power.
So Malloy has worked with Walters and assistant Pete Barakat to become a smarter hitter. Now she is more proficient at using angles and finesse to get kills.
“I definitely think my split-second decisions (have improved),” she said. “As a freshman, I would just try to jump up and hit every ball as hard as I could, but it’s not necessarily the smartest decision.
“I have worked on placing the ball and getting better at the accuracy on my swing. I am starting to see what’s open instead of trying to hit it hard every time.”
Malloy also has worked on becoming a better defensive player. Broadening her skill set could allow her to be a six-rotation player in college.
“She has worked really hard on her serve receive and her defense,” Walters said. “When she first came to me, she was used to jumping out and having somebody set her. She didn’t play a whole lot of defense.
“She’s a hard worker. She’s one of the few kids who will come into the gym early and doesn’t want to go home.”
More than any individual accolades, Malloy hopes her hard work results in a third consecutive WPIAL Class A title and the program’s fifth in the past seven years. Bishop Canevin entered the week of Sept. 30 with a 7-0 section record — its three losses of the season were to nonsection foes from higher classifications and a non-WPIAL school — and ranked No. 1 in the Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association poll.
And while the Crusaders are favored to complete the WPIAL three-peat, there remains one achievement that has eluded them: a PIAA title. In each of the past three seasons, Bishop Canevin has lost in the opening round of the tournament.
Malloy would trade every one of those 1,000 kills for a PIAA title.
“We have the talent. We just have to stay focused,” she said. “Instead of looking at the state championship, here’s one game. Let’s look at that instead of looking at the end.
“I feel like this group is special. We all just work as a unit, and our communication really helps us.”
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