Ligonier Valley girls volleyball talks the talk, walks the walk

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 | 9:45 AM

Following a successful first season in the WPIAL, Ligonier Valley volleyball coach Emily Daugherty easily could identify some areas for her team to improve over the summer.

“We knew that they’d be a very conditioned team. I was never afraid of their skill levels and stuff like that,” said Daugherty, entering her third season leading the Rams. “They all put in the work. But not putting together a full game and communicating was a big thing for us last year.

“They’ve already shown it with how much their communication has improved. We’re on the right track.”

The Rams went 7-4 in Section 5-2A last year, finishing third in the inaugural season in the new district before being swept in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs by Ellwood City.

“It was a change for everybody,” Daugherty said. “And then add covid on top of that, it was a change of pace for them. These are bigger schools. It’s a different competition level, and it’s a change of scenery for them. It’s a good thing for them, and it’s made them better. It’s helping build our program.

“Our goal was to make a name for our program, and I think they did that.”

While the Rams still want to establish themselves in the WPIAL, they also desire to do so by making a splash this season.

“These girls believe in themselves and believe they can compete for the section (title),” Daugherty added. “That’s a goal of theirs this year.”

Ligonier Valley swept East Allegheny to begin the year before losing to defending section champion Deer Lakes in five sets. In their third match, they struggled to handle perennial Class A power Greensburg Central Catholic.

But Daugherty is not dismayed. And that’s because she has a veteran team. Ligonier Valley returned six starters from last year’s squad, including three all-section selections.

“We have the experience and the upperclassmen to help us with our goals this season,” she said.

The Rams will be using the early portion of the season to break in a new setter, sophomore Saylor Clise. But two veterans have calmed the waters.

Senior Haley Stormer has moved to outside hitter and made enough strides to get interest from college coaches.

“Her game just has already tremendously improved, even from last year to this year,” Daugherty said. “She’s stepped up and is a huge team leader for us.”

Libero Sarah Sheeder is another all-section player from 2020 and one who carries great responsibility on the court.

“She’s the one in command on the back line,” Daugherty said. “We trust her to take control. She tells people where to go, and she makes the adjustments that she sees.”

Those two have taken their on-court chatter to new heights. And now Daughterty hopes it leads the team in the same direction.

“I’ve never seen them talk this well,” she said. “They played in a summer league together, and now they’re all to rely on and trust one another.”


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