Pine-Richland volleyball rolls through 1st half

Friday, October 5, 2018 | 8:24 PM

With half of its Section 1-AAAA schedule behind them, the Pine-Richland girls volleyball team has been stacking wins and cruising along against conference rivals.

The Rams (7-2, 6-1) are second in the section, and their success is in part because of their consistency and preparation.

“I was impressed with our girls and the way that they played throughout the first half of section play. They were just really consistent. Every time we played a team, our girls were able to put their best volleyball forward,” Pine-Richland coach Cassie Pratte said.

“My players do a great job of taking information in that we discuss over the week. After watching film and prepping for opponents, they take that and apply it in the match. We talk a lot about the importance of making adjustments, and they’ve been able to do that.”

Another great building block to the Rams’ success so far, according to their coach, has been the team’s passing and serving abilities.

While standout starters Grace Kristofic, a setter, and Michaela Pettinato, an outside hitter, have led their team in assists and kills, it’s been the unsung heroes at libero and defensive specialist who have helped drive the team to its hot start.

“Our passing and serving have been really strong points throughout the season. We pass really well, and we serve and receive really well. It makes it a lot easier on our setters to set up those opportunities and for our attackers to put the ball away,” Pratte said.

“Our passers and defensive specialists — like Maddie Schieder, our libero, Marin Laffey and Sarah Hansen, and then even Michaela Pettinato — they do a lot of passing for us, and they’ve done a great job with those roles.”

To make matters even more promising for Pine-Richland, the team has piled up wins while breaking in a handful of new players at crucial positions. Sisters Maryellen and Jiley Berger are seeing increased roles as middle hitters, and freshman Sophie Catalanato is performing well in her first year at the varsity level as an outside hitter.

With those players progressing and the group overall still building chemistry together, coach Pratte believes theirbest volleyball could be ahead of them.

“I think we’ve been consistent with our play throughout the season to this point. But building that connection with our middles and our newer players on the outside, we’ve gotten better and better at that with each game,” she said.

“I expect us to be even better during the second half of our schedule.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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