Hampton girls volleyball building confidence for postseason run
By: Devon Moore
Thursday, October 11, 2018 | 11:27 PM
As it eyes a third straight playoff berth, Hampton girls volleyball team finds itself in a familiar position. The big question is, has the team’s ceiling capped?
The Talbots (7-3) have been working over the mental hurdle of saying it isn’t. The team has enjoyed great success versus most of its opponents, going 15-0 in its section the past two years against teams not named Knoch or Central Valley.
However, their record against the top two teams in Section 4-3A in that same timeframe stands at 0-7.
“I think something we’ve been working on is having more confidence, so we can compete with teams like them,” said senior captain and Pitt commit Anastasia Russ.
“I think if we believe in ourselves that we can do it, we’ll perform better.”
Both Russ and coach Matt Robertson think the team took a major step last week against undefeated Knoch, the reigning WPIAL and PIAA champion. Though they lost 3-0, the Talbots took the Knights to the wire, earning a match point 24-23 before faltering.
“We still lost in three, but we competed with them much better,” Robertson said. “I think the girls finally saw they could compete with those top teams. Improvements across the board. I hope they realize they made those improvements, and it’s starting to show.”
Part of improving was simply finding the right combination in place with junior outside hitters Maggie Laffin in a passing role and junior Gillian Mulcahy in a hitting role. Junior middle hitter Claire Braun has been strong in her return from an ankle injury.
“She’s still recovering so it’s a battle between giving her rest and getting her practice,” Robertson said. “But she’s done a great job of getting to where she is now.”
Senior outside hitter Megan Collins and senior libero Melinda Maers have also been solid.
“Melinda has been working really hard to take the place of libero and that isn’t easy,” Russ said. “She’s working hard to get the ball up every time.”
Likewise, Russ and her connection with senior setter Nikita Corbelli have been the driving force behind many of the team’s wins.
“I think after every practice and game (our connection) keeps getting stronger and stronger,” Russ said. “We’re able to communicate better after each play.”
Robertson feels much more comfortable with the current rotation in the second half of the season.
“I think we finally found that lineup we’re looking for,” he said. “Now, it’s just getting a rhythm and the kinks worked out of it so we’re getting the best of our ability.”
Devon Moore is a freelance writer.