Inaugural WCCA girls volleyball all-star match earns rave reviews

Tuesday, November 22, 2022 | 9:42 PM

Brett Marabito gazed into the stands and grinned at the site of the assembled crowd inside the Ligonier Valley High School gymnasium for the first Westmoreland County Coaches Association All-Star Volleyball Match.

The event Tuesday night showcased some of Westmoreland County’s top high school girls volleyball players and was the brainchild of former Ligonier Valley athletic director Joe Skura, a Cambria County resident and former volleyball coach with ties to District 6.

He got the idea from coaching at the Greater Johnstown Volleyball Club All-Star event featuring schools from Cambria and Somerset counties.

“It’s nice to see. This crowd is enough to convince me that this thing needs to continue,” said Marabito, an assistant principal who was thrust into the role of acting athletic director at Ligonier Valley upon the abrupt departure of Skura earlier this month.

“This is great, great competition. There are some fantastic players here. It’s nice to see, and it looks like everyone is enjoying themselves.”

The West beat the East, 3-2, claiming the final two sets in the best-of-five match on scores of 20-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-20 and 15-10.

Afterwards, everyone seemed delighted. Even the kids on the losing team.

“Oh, my gosh, it was so fun,” Latrobe middle hitter Paige Watson said before swigging from a bottle of water.

An overheated Watson looked around with amazement at her teammates — several from her own Latrobe squad — then glanced across the court at the victorious West unit.

“It was nice to play volleyball again,” she said. “I was so happy when I got a call because I thought I was done.”

WCCA president Andy Wnek couldn’t immediately say if the match would continue next season, but he sure sounded hopeful.

“Several people came through and thanked us for doing this,” he said. “Little do they realize that we take control of the proceeds from the attendance and the 50-50 (raffle), but it’s the host school in the majority of our events that do pretty much everything.”

The WCCA backs championships in 7-on-7 football, boys basketball, wrestling, bowling, golf, cross country, swimming and track and field.

WCCA teams in the East territory include Derry, Latrobe, Greensburg Central Catholic, Greensburg Salem, Hempfield, Ligonier Valley and Southmoreland. West schools are Belle Vernon, Burrell, Franklin Regional, Kiski Area, Norwin, Penn Trafford, Valley and Yough.

The volleyball all-star game offered a look at a number of highly skilled athletes, some headed to the next level at college.

“I don’t know if there is a consensus, but I think everybody was excited about it,” said East coach Drew Vosefski of Latrobe. “It’s great for the sport and I especially think it’s great for Westmoreland County. No disrespect, but some people think we’re a country in Eastern Europe. It just shows we have talent in this county.”

Besides Watson, Lilly Fenton and May Krehlik of Latrobe, the East roster also included Ellie Althof of Greensburg Central Catholic, Ella Bringe of Hempfield, Isabella DePalma and Sasha Whitfield of Derry, Kaylee and Taylor Doppelheuer of Southmoreland and Ruby Wallace of Ligonier Valley.

The West team consisted of Sophia Alvarez, Sara Olson and Sydney Petko of Norwin, Avery Bain and Taylor Barr of Burrell, Ella Evans of Franklin Regional, Sydney Joyce of Kiski Area, Kaelynn Loffredo, Gia Pezze and Kate Schall of Penn-Trafford, Jessica Staraniec of Valley and Gianna Anderson of Belle Vernon.

West coaches Alyson Shirey of Burrell and Jim Schall of Penn-Trafford were proud of the event and the performance that both teams put on to the delight of that formidable crowd.

“I was really happy when they decided to do something like this,” Shirey said, “because we do have a lot of talent in the county. I’m very fortunate to be part of the first one. I hope there are many, many more to come.”

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