Pine-Richland volleyball team makes strong statement in playoff loss

Sunday, November 7, 2021 | 11:01 AM

The Pine-Richland girls volleyball team certainly did not go down without a fight.

In their WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinal game with Moon, the Rams found themselves down 2-1 in the match after dropping two consecutive sets, but rallied to win the fourth set and pushed the Tigers to the limit in the fifth set before falling, 18-16.

It was a tough way for the season to end, but it was also a sign that they had shown growth throughout the season.

“I’m very proud of the girls because when we dropped two sets in a row, we tended to tap out after that. So for them to fight back and get that fourth set was definitely a step in the right direction for our team,” first-year Pine-Richland coach Angela Seman said. “We battled the entire fifth set. Both teams had set point two times and the other team got a point to tie it or make the score closer. At the end, they just had the leg up on a couple points and ended it.”

The Rams return a good core of players, but will have to fill a couple of big spots in the lineup for the graduation of outside hitter Sophie Catalano and libero Makayla Roy.

Catalano is a Clemson recruit.

“I have been able to coach Sophie for a couple years in club and also with her mom (Heather Lyke) being my athletic director at Pitt, I’ve known her for a while,” Seman said. “She grew a lot this year in the sense of being a leader. She was always quiet on the court but someone you could always count on to get kills and play well. This year, she was a vocal leader that could calm the girls down or give them a boost of energy when she needed it. We’ll miss her.”

Roy was a setter for the Rams last year but made the move to libero, which Seman said is a more natural position for her. She was considered the captain of the back row.

“She kept our defense going all the time and she was the true definition of a libero that never lets the ball hit the floor,” Seman said. “She will be missed for sure. Not many players have the defensive intensity she has. It’s hard to train people to have that determination and intensity in the back row.”

The Rams have nine juniors returning, including outside hitters Kaili Doctor and Katie Yanni, middle hitters Sarah Faber and Sophia Menke and setter Nicole Snyder. Sophomore Sofia Morse, the Rams’ other setter, also returns.

Seman expects the quarterfinal loss will sting for a while, but it will also serve as motivation and that her players will be focused and ready to go when next season rolls around.

“We told them that these games happen, but how you come back from them is remembering that experience and never wanting to feel that way again,” Seman said. “You work even harder. That’s what makes a team great. It resonated with our girls, so I assume this coming summer, the preseason and into next season, it will be a totally different ballgame in that aspect.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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