Menosky leads more well-rounded roster for Bishop Canevin volleyball

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Thursday, April 4, 2019 | 6:11 PM


Now in his third season as coach of the Bishop Canevin boys volleyball team, Pete Barakat isn’t quite ready to declare he has a “program” in place.

At Bishop Canevin, as is the case with many small schools, students are involved with multiple sports — not to mention other activities. And because volleyball tends to be less popular with boys than with their female counterparts, it often isn’t their primary sport.

Still, Barakat likes where his team is heading. He has his biggest roster yet — 17 athletes — and is coming off a season in which the Crusaders went 8-2 in their section, the only losses coming to Seton LaSalle.

Bishop Canevin won its opening match in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, sweeping Trinity, which had beaten the Crusaders in the regular season. But Canevin was swept in the quarterfinals by top-seeded Derry, which eventually lost to Ambridge in the final.

“They put us in the eight (seed) vs. nine game, which I thought was a little low,” Barakat said. “We hung with (Derry), but if we could have played a No. 2 or 3 seed in the second round, maybe we get a little further.”

So the Crusaders (2-2, 0-1 Section 3-AA as of April 3), ranked fifth in the April 1 Western Pa. Volleyball Coaches Association poll, will take another run at the playoffs and, they hope, a longer stay.

Leading the way is Matthew Menosky, a versatile 6-foot-1 St. Francis (Pa.) commit. Menosky is one of the few players on the roster who makes volleyball his main sport, and he surpassed 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs last week. In the section opener against Seton LaSalle, he registered a triple-double (30 kills, 24 digs, 10 aces) in the five-set loss to the Rebels.

“He has every skill you need to play volleyball,” said Barakat, adding Menosky will play defensive specialist or libero for the Red Flash. “Two years ago, he was pretty much doing everything by himself … but we have other guys who can put the ball away.”

Coulton Gaitens (6-3) is among those who have stepped up to complement Menosky. A middle blocker, Gaitens had seven kills in the Crusaders’ first match against Trinity and five more against OLSH.

The Andrews brothers, senior Robert and sophomore Christian, also will play big roles. Robert plays primarily at setter but also can hit and play defense, and with junior Michael Caputo also able to set, Barakat has the option of running a 6-2 offense.

Christian Andrews, Barakat said, could be a star in the making: “When his play takes off, I think we’re going to hit another level.”

Senior libero Noah Kelsch is a stabilizing force on defense. Barakat said between Kelsch and Menosky, the Crusaders’ serve receive could be “better than most teams’.”

A pair of newer players are expected to provide depth and defense: sophomores Carson Gaitens and Collin Milko. Carson Gaitens didn’t play much varsity last season, but, Barakat said, he is starting to grasp blocking concepts. Milko is playing volleyball for the first time, but he is a proven athlete who finished second in the 170-pound weight class at the Allegheny County wrestling tournament.

Barakat is stressing the need to make routine plays. If the Crusaders can do that and keep unforced errors to a minimum, they might take that next step in the playoffs and as a program.

“The volleyball tends to find the weak link on the court, and if you have four or five strong positions, the ball seems to find those one or two that are struggling,” he said. “Volleyball is minimizing your own mistakes.

“You can’t give away 15 points a set. If you make only five or six (mistakes), your team is going to be tough to beat.”

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