Experienced lineup returns for Penn Hills girls volleyball

Thursday, August 29, 2019 | 6:00 PM

After having one of their best seasons in a decade, the Penn Hills girls volleyball program looks to have another successful campaign with a majority of the starting lineup returning.

Last season, Penn Hills (7-10, 2-10 Section 3-4A) scored wins over Gateway, Woodland Hills, Carrick, Allderdice and Trinity Christian, while sweeping the season series against Plum.

The Indians return junior outside hitter Faith Crawford, who received second-team all-section honors in Section 3-4A after her sophomore season.

“Faith is such an amazing athlete. She’s fast and she jumps so well. She’s a dynamic athlete, and I really look forward to that translating to the volleyball court,” coach Jay Mitlo said.

Mitlo returns outside hitter Yasmine Logan, setter Colleen Hoolahan, liberio Vanessa Persichetti and outside hitter Maddy Banks, who are all seniors.

The Indians, who have 26 players on the roster, welcome freshman middle hitter Sarah Miller and senior middle hitter Omokemi Balogun to the starting lineup, as well.

Miller and Balogun will look to replace the production lost by the graduation of Kelsey Lydic and Deshaya Chavis.

Senior Julianna Westin is the top reserve. Logan will be this year’s captain with Persichetti, Banks and Westin as assistant captains.

“We have gotten a little more experience and a little bit stronger. We are excited about this year. We are excited to see where we stand,” Mitlo said.

Miller is the younger sister of 2018 grad Becca Miller. Mitlo is excited to see what Miller can bring to an experienced starting lineup. Mitlo doesn’t want to compare Sarah to Becca, who was an all-section player her senior season.

“I believe Sarah will have every opportunity to be as good or better than her sister. But she is definitely her own person,” Mitlo said.

“I hope to get the same thing that I expect out of all my players that is their best performance. She has played a lot of club ball. She’s hungry, she’s a great athlete and so are a lot of our girls.”

This season, Mitlo has made changes in positions for a couple of players. Crawford will move from the middle to the right side, while Banks will move from the right side to the left.

“Moving Faith out of the middle to the right side really amplifies her ability to block. She can help with the middle but can now help block the other teams’ best hitters on that side of the court,” Mitlo said.

“Maddy started there last year and is now the left side where Deshaya Chavis was last year. No one is out of position but taking advantage of the skill set we have.”

This summer, the Indians participated in a summer league with a handful of local teams at the SportZone in Murrysville. Penn Hills played teams from Franklin Regional, Woodland Hills, Norwin, Burrell, Greensburg Salem and Plum.

“We got a lot of girls a lot of playing time this summer. We hope to compete every night and nothing be decided before we walk on the court,” Mitlo said.

“Sometimes you’re overmatched, but we aren’t overmatched anymore. We’re ready to see where we stand against everybody.”


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