Quaker Valley girls volleyball parlays talent, hard work into playoff berth

Sunday, October 30, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Quaker Valley veteran girls volleyball coach Mike Vavrek knew his team was talented this season.

The QV netters finished third in Section 4-2A with an 11-3 record behind only Avonworth (13-1) and Central Valley (12-2).

“At the start of the season, I expected this team to work hard and improve every day they stepped in the gym,” Vavrek said. “I knew we had a talented team that would be very competitive in every match, and we had to learn how to finish out games.”

Quaker Valley went from being unranked in Class 2A in the Western PA Coaches Association WPIAL girls volleyball top 10 poll to No. 5 early on.

Quaker Valley split decisions with Central Valley this year and lost twice to Avonworth. The Quakers ended up 15-3 overall and won 12 times by 3-0 scores.

The QV girls settled in at a No. 4 ranking for most of the season and landed the fifth seed in 2A for the WPIAL playoffs.

QV was scheduled to play No.12 Burrell on Oct. 26 in a first-round match. Burrell defeated Fort Cherry, 3-1, in the preliminaries.

A total of 21 teams advanced to the 2A tournament including five from Section 4-2A — Avonworth, Central Valley, Quaker Valley, Hopewell and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

Needless to say, Vavrek anxiously awaited the start of the tournament.

“I expect us to continue to work hard and be very competitive,” he said. “A lot of these girls are in their first playoff action this year and I’m looking forward to seeing them compete.”

One of the Quakers’ biggest wins of the season was a 3-0 decision against South Park, the Section 2-2A champion with a 14-0 record.

“I think the big thing with that match was we served them very tough and took them out of their offensive system, which led to them making a lot of mistakes that we capitalized on,” Vavrek said. “On our end, we passed pretty well and took care of the ball, really limiting our mistakes.”

Quaker Valley won nine of its first 10 matches before losing twice at midseason. The Quakers headed into the playoffs riding a six-game winning streak.

“I thought we played fairly consistent volleyball for the most part in the regular season,” Vavrek said. “I think we have been working hard and improving in some of the areas that we need improvement in.”

QV’s veteran coach — Vavrek has coached at QV for 12 years after coaching at Sto-Rox for six seasons — consistently used three seniors, two juniors and three sophomores in his starting rotation.

“Our lineup has been the same for the entire year,” Vavrek said. “We play eight girls in our rotation.”

Senior starters consist of libero Hannah Lubert, middle hitter Kathryn Karwoski and setter Shayna Cunnard.

“I think these three seniors have done a great job leading this team,” Vavrek said. “They have created a great culture in our gym. This entire group just really plays well together, gets along well, and the seniors have played a big part in that.”

The two juniors in the lineup are Katelyn Clark, a middle hitter, and Annica Kagle, a right-side hitter.

Sophomore starters consist of outside hitters Molly MacDonald and Nora Hammond and setter Vanessa Pickett.

Prior to the playoffs, Kagle and Clark led the Quakers in kills while Lubert and MacDonald finished one-two in digs.

Lubert, a three-sport athlete, already has met one of her goals.

“I have been a part of the girls lacrosse team that has made it to playoffs for the past two years,” Lubert said. “It is a whole different game and scenery. I really want to experience that same adrenaline, energy and motivation with the volleyball girls this season.”

Pickett and Cunnard were the team leaders in assists while Karwoski and Hammond recorded the most aces.

Karwoski, Hammond, Pickett, Cunnard and Clark combined for 143 aces in the serving department.

Cunnard was hoping the Quakers would continue to play “fluent volleyball” in the postseason.

“Our strength is our team dynamic and the chemistry between the varsity players,” she said.


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