Carlynton, Canevin, Chartiers Valley volleyball teams seek return to playoffs
Thursday, August 22, 2019 | 9:00 PM
One is coming off a WPIAL title. Two others are pursuing a championship after seasons in which they qualified for the playoffs. A look at the three area girls volleyball teams:
The Crusaders captured their fourth WPIAL Class A title — and second in a row — in six seasons in 2018, but coach Kevin Walters will be going for a three-peat with a roster that lost eight seniors. That, however, has not changed expectations.
“We go into every year with the same thing no matter who is there or who comes back,” he said. “It would be nice to make a deeper run in the state playoffs.”
Bishop Canevin returns three players who were part of the regular rotation last season: setter Maddie Maziarz, opposite hitter Alexis Malloy and outside hitter Kyla Hartoyo. Sophomore middle hitter Abbie Maziarz is expected to pick up some of the slack for the graduated players, and Jillian Golupski has shown the ability to play multiple positions in the lineup.
When she took over the Cougars two seasons ago, Amber Seibel wasn’t sure when the team last made the playoffs. She doesn’t have to wonder anymore after Carlynton qualified in Class AA last season.
“I think we have a good chance to do the same thing this year,” she said. “More than anything, the playoffs always presented themselves as a unicorn in the past. But last year, it became a reality. Now, it’s something that can be plausibly attained. It’s not just something other schools do.”
Three starters return: setter Jaelyn Melko, middle Brenna Ault and versatile hitter Emmaline Stevens. Among the players expected to take on bigger roles this season are middle hitter Erin Fox and setter Natali Lutsiv.
Lutsiv, also a swimmer and track and field runner, has progressed to the point she has changed Seibel’s offense.
The Cougars will run a two-setter system that will keep Lutsiv on the floor throughout the rotation.Others expected to contribute are outside Brooke Maxwell and defensive specialists Sierra Segeleon, Maddie Ciabottani and Ainsley Pearce.
Collier Township is the latest stop for coach Kevin Hummert, who has been at Ambridge, Seneca Valley, Shenango and Seton LaSalle and spent the past three seasons at Central Valley.
Hummert inherits a playoff team but one that lost key players in Mara Hartoyo, who took the lion’s share of the swings on offense, and setter Ashlynn Gulakowski, now with Cal (Pa.).
But Hummert likes what he has seen in the early going.
“We’re better than I thought, to be honest,” he said.
Hummert was impressed by the Colts’ performance at the Fort LeBoeuf team camp, where Char Valley placed sixth out of 26 teams in the camp-ending tournament.
He was more impressed considering he had four of his projected starters missing.
Some of the Colts’ returning personnel will switch positions. Paige Cousley shifts from defensive specialist to libero. Riley Pawlosky will move from libero and take on more hitting duties. Amaleen Malcolm, whom Hummert calls his most athletic hitter, will move from outside to middle.
Bri Kesseler will take over at setter. Expected to contribute on the attack are outsides Liz Sarasnick and Mia Giammatteo, middle Julie O’Neil and right side Valerie O’Niel.