New faces lead way for Norwin volleyball

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Friday, September 6, 2019 | 8:04 PM


Norwin’s volleyball team was back to its winning ways in its first section game of the season against Plum.

The team hopes it will be the first of many victories en route to another playoff run.

“We won in four sets, but the games were very close,” Norwin coach Mary Ellen Ferragonio said. “Plum was a very strong team and will continue to improve. We also have many skills to continue to work on as the season progresses.”

Norwin’s starting lineup features plenty of new faces after last season’s senior-heavy team led the Knights to the WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals, where it lost in five sets to Pine-Richland. Norwin eliminated Peters Township in the first round.

“Last year’s team was made up of a remarkable group of players who excelled on and off the court and supported one another no matter what,” Ferragonio said. “Our nine graduating seniors, as well as players in previous years, set a precedent of what it means to be a great team player for our upcoming girls.”

Senior Victoria Nicholes is the lone returning starter and a 2018 all-section selection.

Setter Abby Lichtenfels will take over the position once manned by graduates Hannah Horvath and Victoria Saundres. She will have a wealth of hitters, including Nicholes, to assist.

Players such as Julianna Boyd, Brooke Gast, Mara Polczynski, Rachel Sullivan, Cassie Cole, Kylie Mihalov and Mackenzie Yaniga will step into hitter roles this season with the hopes that they can replicate the type of season graduate Rachel Langsford, another all-section selection, had in 2018.

Jordan Stein, Amanda Lee and Dylan Amic will each contribute as Norwin’s defensive specialists this season after the departure of Rachel Milke and Madison Yaniga.

“Our senior group has stepped up and worked hard to improve in the role they will play on the team,” Ferragonio said. “Our juniors have filled in the spots left empty through graduation and are playing with confidence.”

With so many new players in the starting lineup, Ferragonio said the team will focus on improving and building confidence in every match.

“The girls work well as a team and continue to build one another up,” Ferragonio said. “We will continue to work on communication and smart play.”

Norwin will play nonsection games against Greensburg Central Catholic and Shaler before it faces Hempfield, Connellsville and Latrobe — the top three Section 3-4A teams from last season — in consecutive games.

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