Pine-Richland girls volleyball looking for consistency as young lineup develops
Friday, September 7, 2018 | 7:25 PM
After making the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs with a combination of young talent and experienced returning starters last year, the Pine-Richland girls volleyball team will look to repeat the feat with an even younger squad this season.
The Rams (1-0, 1-0) do have some experience as first-year coach Cassie Pratte’s team returns four starters from last year’s lineup. Beyond those four, however, first-year varsity contributors will fill many of the team’s significant roles.
Still, Pratte said she is encouraged by her group’s start to the season, which includes making the semifinal round of the Mt. Lebanon tournament. She thinks it’s just a matter of time before they hit their stride.
“Although we do have a lot of returning starters, we are a relatively young team. We only have three seniors,” Pratte said.
“I think right now we’re just working on becoming more consistent. As the girls progress throughout the season, they’re just going to keep getting better at reaching that type of consistency as they keep getting more comfortable out there.”
The returning starters include setter Grace Kristofic, libero Maddie Schieder, defensive specialist Marin Laffey and Michaela Pettinato, the team’s outside hitter. Meanwhile, another returnee, Maddie Sherman, is penciled for a big role as a right-side hitter.
“These returning girls have definitely taken on a leadership role, and it’s really helped,” Pratte said.
“With them, we have a really strong core of passers and defensive players that have experience playing at the varsity level. It’s a really good group to take forward and build with.”
Two of the newer names in the Rams’ lineup are Maryellen Berger and Jiley Berger, twin sisters who each stand around 5-foot-10 and play middle hitter. Another fresh face will be Sophie Catalanato, a freshman who Pratte said has a lot of potential.
“She’s a freshman and she is going to start on the outside for us,” Pratte said.
“It’s a unique situation playing a freshman at that position, but she’s a really talented player, and I’m excited to see her flash that skill in more game situations.”
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.