Pine-Richland girls volleyball overcomes adversity en route to playoffs

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Sunday, October 22, 2017 | 7:36 PM


No matter the level or classification it plays at, almost every high school sports team is dealt a difficult challenge at some point.

For the Pine-Richland girls volleyball team this season, that challenge came when sophomore outside hitter Anna Jurkovec suffered a foot injury that ended her season.

Compensating for the loss of a major contributor like Jurkovec was a tough task for the Rams, but thanks to some steady leadership and extra sharp play, the team is cruising into the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs after earning an 11-3 record and a 7-3 record in Section 1, good for second place.

“We've gotten some great leadership out of our captains, Shelby Zahn, Hannah Cottrill and Callie Polce. Those three have done a great job, and I can't say enough about the way they've helped keep the team up this year,” coach Amanda Fetter said.

“And on the court, I would actually say that it's been Michaela Pettinato, Hannah Cottrill and Zoe Sims that are actually helping to step up and fill those gaps for us.”

Sims, a senior middle hitter, draws high praise from her coach as a result of her increased level of play in the absence of Jurkovec. Fetter said Sims has been a steadying presence for her team.

“Zoe has just been playing her butt off for us. She's just really skilled. She's just the kind of player that puts a positive touch on the ball, she doesn't make very many errors and she has a heavy hand that can rip the ball,” she said.

“She seals the net, and she's a great blocker, plus she just has an absolute killer of a serve.”

While many players have stepped up to help support Pine-Richland's attack on offense, Fetter said it's the defense that has been the ultimate strength throughout the year. With playoff time right around the corner, the Rams are hoping they get a chance to show off that defensive prowess.

“Our defense is really what's been impressive for us. Our back row players have really been holding it together for us this year,” Fetter said.

“Our libero, Maddie Schieder, is really good. She's a talented player, and so are our other two back row players, Jackie Hansen and Marin Laffey. They're all having great years.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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