South Fayette boys volleyball makes massive strides in program’s 1st season

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Saturday, July 10, 2021 | 11:01 AM


All of the spring high school sports teams around the WPIAL and throughout the state were in the same boat this past season.

Everybody had to regroup and start all over after losing the 2020 spring sports season to the covid-19 pandemic.

Perhaps that was to the advantage of the South Fayette boys volleyball team. The Lions didn’t have to worry about starting over because the program was just starting up.

“So in our first season, I was very happy with our accomplishments,” South Fayette coach Ron Kelly said. “Most importantly, there was interest in the volleyball program. It was a good start to the program.”

The Lions finished with a .500 record overall but ended up tied for second place with Upper St. Clair with an 8-4 record in Section 1-3A.

Evidence that this wasn’t going to be your normal first-year high school program happened in the team’s second match and first section contest when South Fayette stunned perennial Class 3A power Bethel Park on the road, 3-0.

“Beating Bethel Park was a confidence boost to the boys,” Kelly said. “It sort of gave them the confidence needed to compete in our section.”

That confidence kicked in after South Fayette dropped four of its next five section matches before ending the season by winning its final six section matches to clinch a postseason berth.

“Reaching the playoffs was a goal the team set, and I thought it was realistic,” Kelly said. “Making the playoffs and finishing tied for second in our section was a true highlight.”

“Our team was led by two seniors in middle hitter Mitch Howard and setter Ryan Miller,” Kelly said. “Both were second-team all-section players. We also had one experienced player in Blainey Jones, who was a first team all-section and second-team all-WPIAL player.”

In the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs, South Fayette was the No. 10 seed in the 15-team tournament. The Lions’ stay in the playoffs was short and not so sweet as they were eliminated, 3-0, by Fox Chapel in the opening round.

Now the process begins in looking ahead to prepare for year two of South Fayette boys volleyball.

“In 2022, we have a good amount of returning players, a good nucleus,” Kelly said. “Plus we have a lot of interest from new players that want to play. It should be interesting.”

It’s also time to reflect on a bit of history being made this spring with the first step taken toward what Kelly hopes is a very successful program.

“As a team, there was so much progress made by all the players,” he said. “The players were interested in learning the game. It set the foundation for the future. I really enjoyed coaching the team.”

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