Quaker Valley volleyball players scoop up awards after memorable season

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Sunday, December 10, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Talk about a landslide vote.

Eight members of the Quaker Valley girls volleyball team were honored as all-section selections in 2023.

Two seniors, right-side hitter Annica Kagle and middle hitter Katelyn Clark, and two juniors, outside hitter Molly MacDonald and setter Vanessa Pickett, were named to the first team.

Kagle stands 5-foot-11 and is a Catawba College (N.C.) recruit. Clark is a 5-11 middle hitter who also can play the right-side position.

“I was honored to be recognized and seeing so many players from our team also get recognized,” Kagle said. “Thank you to the QV community for continuously supporting our volleyball teams.”

Kagle was a second-team all-section selection as a sophomore and a first-team pick as a junior. She also was an All-WPIAL and PVCA all-state honoree last year and a first team All-WPIAL player this year.

Kagle was a three-year starter for the Quakers. She is committed to Catawba, a member of the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference located in Salisbury, N.C., 25 miles northeast of Charlotte.

“I’m excited to continue my college volleyball career at Catawba College next year,” Kagle said. “It was the right fit for me both academically and athletically. I really like the coaches and the team. I visited several colleges, and this is the college that felt like home to me. I love the campus and the location.”

Kagle has many cherished memories from her high school volleyball career.

“Some of the best memories are the bus rides with my teammates and all the fun times in practices and games with my teammates,” she said. “Also, my junior- and senior-year playoff experiences, especially this season’s team winning the first section title in girls volleyball in school history.

“Being a part of winning our first-round playoff game in my junior year was such a rewarding moment for us because the previous year we did not make playoffs. I remember us being so happy and excited to see how we would do. We were so excited. I definitely will miss this team and cherish these memories.”

Clark, a third-team WPIAL Class 2A all-star this season, was a three-year varsity starter for the Quakers. She plans to major in chemistry in college.

The 5-8 Pickett proved to be one of the most consistent and steadiest players on the squad in 2023.

“Vanessa was definitely our leader, which is something you definitely would like to have in a setter,” QV coach Mike Vavrek said. “She led us not just vocally but with her play as well. She kept this team moving in the right direction with the things she did in games, as well as during practices. She is a great teammate to not just the upperclassman, but the younger girls as well.”

Nora Hammond, a junior outside hitter, received a second-team all-section nod, while senior defensive specialist/setter Lucy Auth, junior defensive specialist Carmen Forsythe and sophomore middle hitter Mia Gartley landed third-team selections.

Kagle, Clark, Auth, Mia Rosa Pugliano (MH/DS) and Isabella Viola (MH/RS) will graduate in the spring.

“We had a great senior class,” Vavrek said. “Those five girls did a lot for this team. They continued the great culture that last year’s senior class left behind.

“They are a great group of girls who are going to go on and do big things in their futures. They were a very unselfish group that put the team first. Quaker Valley volleyball will certainly miss them all.”

The Quakers ended up third in the WPIAL Class 2A tournament to qualify for the PIAA playoffs and finished 17-4 overall.

And the QV girls made history by going undefeated in their section and winning the section title. A girls volleyball banner will hang in the QV gym for the first time in school history.

“I thought we had a great year,” Vavrek said. “We reached most of our expectations and goals that we had coming into the year. We improved as the season went on.

“We got the school’s first-ever section championship in girls volleyball. We finished 17-4, losing only to two teams, Montour and Beaver (three times). I think we improved each time we played Beaver and had chances but could not figure out a way to finish versus them.”

The Quakers started out 4-1 then reeled off 10 consecutive wins to take a 14-2 record into the WPIAL tournament.

QV won its first two playoff matches, defeating No. 19 Fort Cherry, 3-0, and No. 6 Neshannock, 3-1, before dropping a 3-1 decision to No. 2 Beaver in the semifinal round.

The QV girls advanced to the PIAA tournament as the WPIAL’s third-place representative where they split decisions, blanking Kane, 3-0, and losing to Beaver, 3-1.

Beaver defeated No. 1 Freeport, 3-2, in the WPIAL championship match and proved to be a clear-cut nemesis for QV (and all WPIAL opponents) in 2023.

QV finished 14-0 in Section 4-2A, 14-2 in the regular season and 16-2 against WPIAL opponents. The Quakers defeated Avonworth, Central Valley, Freedom, Hopewell, New Brighton, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Sto-Rox in league play.

QV won 11 times against section teams by 3-0 scores, defeated OLSH, 3-1, and edged Avonworth and Hopewell, 3-2.

The Quakers can look to build next year’s team around the likes of Hammond, Forsythe and Gartley.

“It is very early, but I think we have a few key pieces back from this team,” Vavrek said, “and we will be looking for a few new girls to step in and fill some key positions.

“I think we will be a lot younger next year and less experienced than we have been the last two years, but I think we have girls that have been around and will be ready to step up into bigger roles.”

Four members of the QV team were chosen All-WPIAL in 2023: Kagle, MacDonald, Clark and Pickett.

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