Group effort leads Latrobe girls volleyball to WPIAL playoffs for 4th straight season

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | 12:45 PM


The Latrobe girls volleyball team has met its first preseason goal of finishing in the top three in its section to secure a spot in the WPIAL playoff brackets for a fourth consecutive season.

Everything else, following its final two scheduled regular-season matches this week, is to be determined.

“The next goal is to get into the second round of the playoffs. After that, it’s icing on the cake and we’ll take anything we can get,” Latrobe coach Drew Vosefski said, surely not taking for granted a trip to Connellsville on Tuesday and a home match against Hempfield on Thursday in the Wildcats’ final Section 3-4A meetings before the playoffs.

Latrobe (10-3, 7-3), which entered the week in third place behind Oakland Catholic and Penn-Trafford, made a statement by handing P-T just its second section loss, a 3-1 decision last Wednesday at home.

“We’re doing pretty well,” Vosefski said. “We have a great group.”

Latrobe was up to No. 7 in the latest Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Class 4A poll after the upset of then-No. 4 Penn-Trafford.

Other than a pair of losses to new No. 4 Oakland Catholic and another to P-T, the Wildcats have been able to handle their opponents while ignoring distractions.

“Anytime you have more than two people together, there’s a chance for drama,” Vosefski said. “But this group of young ladies has risen above that. I have a team that understands that you may not be a starter, but I have enough confidence in you to do the job when called upon.”

Led by 5-foot-9 junior setter/opposite Lily Fenton and 6-1 senior middle blocker Anna Rafferty, Latrobe has been a tough out this season.

“Lily is having a phenomenal year,” Vosefski said. “She has been given accolades by every coach we’ve played as to how phenomenal a setter she is. Anna is our first line of offense and first line of defense at the net. She’s been the leader in kills in just about every match we’ve played.”

Though she also is a standout on the volleyball court, Rafferty is committed to Division II IUP to play basketball.

“Being the jaded coach that I am, I told Anna, ‘Why don’t you try out for the volleyball team while you’re there?’ ” Vosefski said. “I’m hoping she does.”

Vosefski referred to 6-foot-1 junior middle hitter Emma Blair as the team’s most improved player.

He also pointed out the play of 5-6 senior libero Bailey Watson, 5-8 senior setter/defensive specialist Shallyn Shank, 5-7 junior outside hitter Maya Krehlik, 6-2 junior opposite Paige Watson and 5-10 sophomore outside hitter Elle Snyder.

“For a sophomore, Elle Snyder is just playing well beyond her years,” Vosefski said.

“Every young lady I have on this team is what any parent or coach would love to have for their children or players. They’re classy individuals who come in day-in and day-out to show they want to be part of something bigger than (drama).”

So far, Vosefski said, the team has kept its preseason goals within sight.

“We never lost focus,” he said. “If that changed, they would be so disappointed. But with the strides this group has made this year, that disappointment would be quickly put away with the pride of what they’ve done to get to this point.”

Vosefski founded the Latrobe boys program in 2000 and has remained the Wildcats coach since. He also has served two tours totaling 17 years as girls coach, first leading them for 12 seasons from 2001-12 and then returning in 2017.

“This season has been like birdying the 18th hole (in golf),” he said. “It makes you say, ‘I want to come back and do this again.’ It makes you say, ‘It’s the reason I got into coaching.’”

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