Commitment to defense carries Shaler volleyball to strong season

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Sunday, November 8, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Bumps, scrapes and bruises are part of the nightly routine for Shaler Area junior libero Addie Kania.

Sliding across the gym is a nonnegotiable part of the job description. Coming up with creative ways to make sure the other team doesn’t score is another vital aspect.

Kania alleviates the pressure by knowing every return doesn’t have to be a work of art.

“I’m looking at the arm swing and am telling myself everything needs to get up,” Kania said. “It needs to hit a body part. It doesn’t have to be perfect every time.”

Kania contributed eight digs and also provided five service aces for the second-seeded Titans 3-0 (25-14, 25-10, 25-12) sweep of Canon-McMillan in the WPIAL quarterfinals Oct. 31 at home.

Shaler hosted third-seeded Oakland Catholic last Wednesday with a trip to the championship on the line.

The demolition of Canon-McMillan was another efficient performance from Shaler, which moved to 13-2 on the season with 11 of those wins coming via sweep.

“After a nine-day layoff from our last match, we were able to get the dust off the shelf quickly before we got rolling,” Titans coach Paul Stadelman said. “The girls were mentally and physically prepared, and it carried through the match.”

Kania, who played at outside hitter last season, has felt comfortable with a move to defensive specialist despite a relative lack of experience. She had played the position at some tournaments but said this is her first season with a heavy workload as a libero.

Being defensive minded is something Stadelman wanted to emphasize after taking over the program in 2018. Despite an improved offense this season, the Titans haven’t forgotten where they came from.

“I think we are all very motivated to keep the ball from touching the floor,” Kania said. “If that happens, our offense is going to get the ball back over. We are going against taller teams. We want to keep the ball alive. If we are going to win games, we need to push the ball forward.”

Against the Big Macs, Kania had plenty of help in the digs category.

Morgan Gralewski led the team with 16, while Allison Yarnot and Mia Schubert had nine and Tia Bozzo added five.

“The important part is we have more experience now,” Stadelman said. “They have been playing in a varsity role for a couple seasons. A lot of their hard work, effort and play have prepared them. I still don’t think my team has played the best volleyball for their career. They have a higher ceiling.”

To keep raising the expectations, Shaler will still have to do the dirty work.

Digging out potential kills is one task Kania welcomes with great enthusiasm.

“I always have loved defense more than offense,” Kania said. “I love getting the ball up off the floor.”

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