Quaker Valley volleyball has mix of youth, experience

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Friday, September 6, 2019 | 8:04 PM


Quaker Valley’s girls volleyball team got its introductions out of the way last year.

With six starters back, the Quakers want to make some progress this fall.

“It’s really nice to have the same girls come back,” Quaker Valley junior Nicole Shaheen said. “We all know each other and how we work as a team and we can improve on that. I know there are a couple new freshmen that have come up and I am excited to see how they fit in.”

Shaheen joins classmates Kaylah Bemis, Kayla Doherty, Maddie Hess, Camille Johnson and McAuley Kriebel in the experienced starting lineup from a year ago.

“They are a veteran group, but they’re still young,” coach Mike Vavrek said. “They got their feet wet last year, learning the speed of the varsity game. We only have one senior on the roster, so it’s going to be a lot of the same girls the next two years. They are excited to see where they go and what steps they can take.”

Senior Anna Hrabovsky, junior Madison Ray, sophomores Elise Berry, Anna Weisser and Lexi Schlutz and freshman Kathryn Karwoski will all see time in the rotation.

“Our chemistry, as a team, is getting better every game we play, as far as knowing who is going where and knowing each other personally,” Bemis said. “It’s really good having a lot of starters back. We just know each other and how we play. Everyone is definitely more confident in knowing each other. Our skills are definitely improving from last year.”

Quaker Valley opened the season at the Canon-McMillan tournament.

“It was a good tournament with some very, very good competition. There were really no bad teams there. You had to play some good ball to win,” Vavrek said. “We were missing a couple people and that forced a couple people to step into those positions. Some younger girls got an opportunity to show me some things, too. We played OK and we competed. It was a good day of practice.”

The Quakers finished 6-8 last year in Section 2-3A. They know it’ll be a battle to secure a WPIAL playoff spot from the section. Chartiers Valley, South Fayette, West Allegheny and Montour all finished head of Quaker Valley last season.

“I expect those four to be pretty good again,” Vavrek said. “Trinity, Obama and West Mifflin — I expect them all to be competitive. We know we have to show up every day, work hard and improve if we want to compete with those teams.

“We’ve really focused a lot more on effort and just working harder. From the senior down to the freshmen, they’ve bought into it. You can see the volleyball is up as well as the team morale. We’re a lot closer as a team, which helps.”

Bemis, who missed six weeks with a knee injury last year, says avoiding injuries is a key part of the team’s success.

“We want to improve on what we did last year. We expect to, hopefully, make playoffs,” she said. “As long as we stay healthy, it should be a really good season.”

The Quakers are eager to see how they stack up against section competition.

“I think there’s been a lot of improvement over the past year,” Shaheen said. “We’re really excited for the season.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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