Seton LaSalle volleyball earns share of section title

Thursday, October 26, 2017 | 11:33 AM

The section championship boiled down to the results of the final week of the regular season for the Seton LaSalle girls volleyball team.

And the Rebels prevailed in impressive fashion, winning at home against Serra Catholic, 3-0; followed by a 3-0 victory at Keystone Oaks.

Seton LaSalle and Serra Catholic finished tied for first place in Section 4-AA with 11-1 records.

“We had a great match last week for our senior recognition against Serra Catholic, a great opponent in our section,” said Amy O'Keefe, the Rebels' first-year coach. “I'm really proud of the way these girls have worked since the beginning of our offseason. The girls have been focused on achieving their goals and doing the necessary ‘little things' every day in practice. They are a really fun but competitive group that wants to succeed and are willing to put in the necessary effort.”

Seton LaSalle drew the No. 5 seed for the WPIAL playoffs, and will play Thursday in the first round against Waynesburg, which edged Keystone Oaks, 3-2, in a preliminary-round match.

“The girls have been playing well in the weeks leading into our playoffs,” O'Keefe said. “We plan to continue what we've started throughout the regular season and play our best every day. We are going to stay focused on one game at a time and how we can best prepare for our next opponent.”

The Rebels' starting rotation consists of seniors Bridget Hart (right-side hitter), Maggie Syverson (outside hitter/defensive specialist), Ellie Grefenstette (outside hitter) and Alyssa Eicker (outside hitter); juniors Jenni Pitts (middle hitter), Jess Darkowski (middle hitter) and Emily Farley (libero); and sophomore Chloe Lestitian (setter).

“One of our strengths is our team's ability to play together,” O'Keefe said. “Every player has accepted their role and are working to do their part to the best of their ability.

“We have great senior leadership with all four of our seniors having starting roles on the team. They are all experienced players that have helped set the expectation for this season. Three of our returning juniors, Emily Farley, Jenni Pitts and Jess Darkowski, have been making great contributions defensively and offensively, respectively. And Chloe Lestitian, our sophomore setter, has shown great improvement this season.”

Hart and Syverson are the Rebels' captains.

Hart, who also plays basketball, is involved in SADD, Big Sister Little Sister and the Environmental Club at Seton La Salle.

“I think the team keeps getting better and better as the season progresses,” Hart said. “Our biggest strength is the connection we have with each other on and off the court. We come into practice every day with a mentality that every game counts, and we all have to do our job no matter what team we are playing.

“I think what helped us beat Serra Catholic the second time we played them was the way we prepared for them in practice, and having no doubts in our mind that we were going to come out on top. We worked hard all summer and we are peaking at the right time. Once we get on a roll, there is no team that can stop us.”

Syverson, who will compete on the girls lacrosse team in the spring, also is involved in SADD, Big Sister Little Sister and the Environmental Club, as well as the Science Club and dance committee.

“This team means so much to me, and I know all the girls feel the say way,” Syverson said. “We have had a strong mentality this season, and I know we will continue with that. We come into practice every day ready to work and push each other, which has really helped us.

“I think the strength of this team is (our) communication, and just our overall drive and bond with each other. I can't wait to see how the playoffs go for us. I know we are capable of making it very far. We will see where it takes us; I hope for the best.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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