New coach Brannigan hopes to lead her former team back to prominence at Greensburg Salem
Monday, September 13, 2021 | 12:24 PM
Maybe it’s her competitive nature. Perhaps it’s the bittersweet memory of falling just short of a PIAA championship as a Greensburg Salem senior in 2006-07 that motivates Rachel Brannigan.
Then again, playing girls volleyball for revered coach Lynn Jobe, the architect of the Golden Lions’ magical Class 3A state championship run nearly 10 years earlier in 1997-98, when the former Rachel Roddy was an elementary school student, just might be the real reason for Brannigan’s desire to elevate her alma mater’s program back to elite status.
Jobe, with Brannigan starring, nearly pulled off the feat again near the end of Jobe’s illustrious coaching career.
“In my senior year, we won the (Class AA) WPIAL championship, but we lost in the state semifinals to West Allegheny,” Brannigan said. “We ended up runner-up, which is quite an accomplishment in itself.”
But it wasn’t what Brannigan, an all-state player, had been hoping for. Maybe she will wind up in a similar position one day as coach of her own team.
The quest already has begun.
Greensburg Salem welcomed back one of its most decorated former athletes this year when Brannigan took charge of the girls volleyball coaching job, replacing Taylor Guido, a former teammate with the Golden Lions under Jobe.
While it might be a tall order, Brannigan said she hopes to emulate some of the things she learned from Jobe, who led the Golden Lions for several decades.
“I was lucky enough to have Lynn Jobe as my coach, and she laid the basis for me loving the sport,” Brannigan said.
Apparently, Brannigan loved it so much that she chose volleyball over three other sports she’d played in high school — basketball, softball and track and field — while attending college at Point Park.
Brannigan also managed to spend two seasons playing basketball at the NAIA Division II school, something to which returning Greensburg Salem all-section outside hitter Abby Mankins can relate.
“With my mindset, honestly, I really love to compete, whether it’s basketball, volleyball or whatever,” said the 5-foor-10 Mankins, who will attend Seton Hill next year on a basketball scholarship.
Brannigan got her first chance as a varsity coach last week, when Greensburg Salem dropped a 3-2 Section 1-3A decision to Kiski Area.
Mankins is among three returning starters, joining fellow seniors 6-1 middle hitter Sarah Danley and 5-7 libero/defensive specialist Olivia Sheffler.
Four players of at least 6 feet tall figure frequently to be in the lineup: Danley, 6-1 senior middle hitter Sidney Kantor, 6-0 senior middle hitter Nikki Bush and 6-0 sophomore middle hitter Katelyn Mankins, Abby’s sister.
Brannigan said among others showing strong chances to be regular starters are senior defensive specialist Mazzy Baxter, senior setter/defensive specialist Melina Vandenberg, senior outside hitter/defensive specialist Timaia Lewis and junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Laurel Uhlinger.
Tags: Greensburg Salem
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