Kiski Area girls volleyball willing to work overtime for section title

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 | 2:37 PM

On the eve of the first match, Kiski Area girls volleyball coach Jodie McCartney told her team that every time it takes the court in section play there is potential for a five-set match.

The next day, that came to fruition.

Kiski Area played a tight five-set match with Greensburg Salem, coming back from a 2-1 deficit to win, 3-2.

It was an appetizer for what is waiting ahead for a Cavaliers team hoping to be in the mix for a Section 1-3A championship.

“The talent in our section is evenly spread,” McCartney said. “There’s experience on all the teams. Greensburg Salem was senior heavy. We’re going to have to battle it out and play a lot of five-set matches. We played a lot of four- or five-set matches last year, too. Every night is going to be a big night in Section 1.”

The Cavaliers return six players with starting experience and have a quartet of newcomers.

Seniors Emma Beck (defensive specialist) and Carlee Kuhn (outside/middle hitter) and juniors Sydney Joyce (setter), Madalyn Polka (defensive specialist), Brynn Bires (middle hitter) and Bryn Hewitt (serving specialist/defensive specialist) are the returning players.

Sophomores Abbie Johns, Izzy Ondish and Cora Coleman and freshman Maddie Joyce are the newcomers. All 10 will see time in the rotation.

Hewitt’s serving ability was a steady influence in the win over Greensburg Salem. She entered as a server only in the first three sets, but in the fourth set, McCartney kept Hewitt in the rotation to get her to the service line more. McCartney delivered some crucial points.

“With her followed by Emma Beck and Izzy Ondish, our serving was much better in Games 4 and 5,” McCartney said. “They were really composed on that back line and got some aces at critical times. Brynn is just so composed when she gets back to the line. If it is game point or match point and the game is on the line, I feel so confident in her. She really stepped it up in the last two sets.”

Another big factor in the victory was multiple players stepping up to record kills. The Cavaliers have worked on becoming a balanced offense with multiple attackers to keep teams off-balance. On Tuesday, Johns had nine kills, Bires seven and Kuhn, Ondish and Coleman five apiece.

“That’s what you want to see as a coach,” McCartney said. “You don’t want to have to rely on one person doing all the work. Sydney Joyce did a good job distributing the ball in our first match.”

Along with Greensburg Salem, Section 1-3A opponents for Kiski Area are Franklin Regional, Indiana, Plum, McKeesport, Penn Hills and Woodland Hills. Franklin Regional is the defending WPIAL champ and PIAA runner-up, and Plum is the reigning section champ and a WPIAL semifinalist.

The Cavaliers played some tight matches in section play last year and expect that trend to continue.

“We played a five-match match with Franklin Regional and took a set off Plum last year,” McCartney said. “For Franklin Regional to place second in the state and for us to play with them I think proved to the girls that we can play at a high level, but we have to put in a lot of work to get there. Our girls really bought in this summer and worked on some skills and some movement. I believe we will see growth as the season goes on as our younger players gel with our calm veteran leaders.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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