Burrell girls volleyball building momentum under 1st-year coach

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021 | 10:11 AM


Burrell girls volleyball hit the victory column for the first time last Wednesday under new coach Alyson Shirey.

The Bucs defeated Highlands, 3-0, in a Section 5-3A contest on the Burrell floor.

While the upcoming schedule is daunting with Hampton, Knoch and perennial contender Freeport — all in an eight-day period — Shirey is hoping to build what her team’s future opponents already have.

“It’s definitely a challenge, and we always want to stay competitive,” Shirey said. “So our goal is to stay competitive and give it all that we have and not let the stigma get to us that our schedule’s tough. We always want to be moving in the right direction, and that is up.”

A standout at Burrell before heading to Waynesburg, Shirey had stepped away from coaching for a while but has returned.

“I started out as a middle school coach, but my kids are old enough now and my love for the game never went away,” Shirey said. “It’s the right place at the right time.”

Shirey is happy that the 25-0, 25-6, 25-15 sweep over Highlands enabled her to get every player on the floor at some point, though there’s also work to be done.

“We definitely have to work on our basic skills. Everything in volleyball always comes down to basics, and that’s also a strong suit,” she said. “We’re willing to work and put in the time and energy to stay competitive”

Some of Burrell’s key players are Avery Bain and Anna Novak, defensive specialists Bella Greenwald and Quinn Oswalt and setters and Macy Frazer and Taylor Barr. While numbers are a problem at some schools, Burrell has enough to field a junior varsity team.

Assisting Shirey is Denise Tanilli, also a first-year coach who played in high school and college.

“I love the girls, they’re doing great and we want to keep on moving forward,” Tanilli said.

Tanilli attended Seneca Valley and Springdale high schools and now lives in the Burrell School District.

Plans are to build a sustaining program at Burrell.

“We do have a great feeder program,” Shirey said. “We start over in seventh and eighth grade. We had a great summer camp with grades 4 and 5. I had a great turnout with over 60 kids coming. The growth of this program is there. I have a ton of sophomores right now, so we have a bright future.”

Captains this season are Novak, a senior, and junior Bain.

Other section foes include Armstrong and Mars, making Burrell the smallest school in the section.

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