Loaded lineup keeps expectations high for Thomas Jefferson girls volleyball team

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Sunday, September 25, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Thomas Jefferson girls volleyball coach Ron Kelly didn’t shy away from offering his expectations for this year’s team.

“I am looking forward to having a great season,” he said. “We will develop daily with hard work and should be a contender by year’s end.

“We have an experienced group of returning lettermen. I think we will be a really competitive team in Class 3A. Our classification is very strong this year, and it’s going to take a lot to win the WPIAL or qualify for states.”

TJ’s starting rotation consists of outside hitters Delaney Concannon, a 5-foot-10 senior, and Mia Fox, a 5-11 junior; middle hitters Julia Territ, a 5-8 senior, and Eliah Lippincott, a 5-10 junior; right-side hitters Ava Territ, a 5-8 senior and Riley Sippey, a 5-11 junior; setters Julia Berberich, a 5-7 senior, and Alexa Albin, a 5-8 junior; libero Cate Galiato, a 5-1 senior; and defensive specialist Emma Ratner, a 5-6 senior.

Concannon is a third-year starter who has competed in club volleyball for four years. She also has played on the girls soccer and basketball teams at TJ but has narrowed her focus to volleyball.

She has a 4.1 GPA and plans to continue her career in college. Concannon is a member of the National Honor Society, Big Jag Little Cub Club, TJ vs. Cancer and French Club.

“I think our performance so far this season is only half of what we are capable of doing,” she said. “I’m really excited for this season because a lot of us have been playing together for a while now. We have all but one starter from last year, so we should be even better (this year). I expect us to win our section, and I hope to make a run during playoffs to qualify for states and to make it to the WPIAL championship.

“These past four years have gone by so quickly, and I have had some of the best memories I could ask for. I can’t wait to see how far this team can go this year.”

Galiato is a fourth-year starter for the Jaguars and has competed in club volleyball for two years and with P3R prior to that.

She has played softball since her grade school days and has been a member of the TJ softball team since her freshman season.

Galiato has a 4.1 GPA and is a member of the National and French honor societies, STEM, Big Jag Little Cub and TJ vs. Cancer.

“I think we are doing well this season, but I am very excited for the level of intensity that this team can potentially reach,” Galiato said. “I expect big things. We have a ton of talent again, and I’m expecting to be in the WPIAL championship and to qualify for states.

“The past couple of years, we haven’t made it nearly as far as we should have in the playoffs, but this year I am confident we will end that cycle.”

During his successful tenure, Kelly has guided the TJ netters by utilizing a flexible coaching philosophy.

“I think I try to manage the type of team I have,” he said. “If we have strong outsides or middles, then play good defense, look at serve-receive and go from there. Always try to be great at first ball, meaning serving and receiving.

“I also try to keep at least 30 players. I think it’s a privilege and a great thing to be part of this program. This year, I kept 33 girls.”

The Jaguars were 17-1 in the 2021 regular season and lost in the round of eight in the WPIAL playoffs. TJ ended up second to Freeport in last year’s final Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association weekly rankings.

The TJ girls started out this year ranked No. 1 in Class 3A but dropped to No. 4 after falling in five sets to third-ranked Hampton.

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