Southmoreland girls volleyball team digs in for final stretch

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Sunday, October 6, 2019 | 5:40 PM


Southmoreland’s girls volleyball team is ready to make a push for a section title.

With only two weeks of section play left, the Scotties (7-2) still have a shot of clinching at least a share of the WPIAL Section 3-AA championship. They have three section matches left, including big ones against Waynesburg (7-2) and Frazier (8-0).

“We’re really excited,” Southmoreland senior Sarah Pistula said. “We’re excited to play Waynesburg and Frazier, but we have to take it one game at time and not look too far ahead.”

Southmoreland lost to Waynesburg and Frazier in the first half of section play but hopes for better results this time.

“We’re exactly where we were last year,” Southmoreland coach Kristy Bunner said. “We lost to Waynesburg the first time and came back to beat them in the second half of section play. Frazier is hard to beat, but we did take a set away from them this year. That was one of our goals.”

The Scotties hope their experience pays off. They graduated four senior starters but have five seniors in the starting rotation this year in Erika Sherbondy, Faith Miller, Abby Fullem, Courtney Myers and Pistula. Junior Emma Mullett sees time in the front row, and sophomores Gracie Spadaro and Delaynie Morvosh emerged as hitting forces.

“They are the key to our offensive unit,” Bunner said. “They lead the team in kills.”

“Our hitters are a strength, and we have some really tall girls on the team,” Sherbondy said. “The blocking is a lot better than it has been the past couple years, too.”

Bunner cites chemistry as another one of the squad’s better traits.

“I think our biggest strength is our team playing. In our fourth set against Beth-Center, we went down 24-17 and came back and won 26-24,” she said. “I called a timeout at 24-17 and told the girls we didn’t want to go into a fifth set. We got the sideout at 24-18. I subbed in Lizzie Albright, a sophomore, and she served the next eight points.

“We really came together as a unit then. I am really happy with the strong team effort they put together and the way they play together. When we have to dig in deep against teams we know, we try to figure out a way to do it.”

The Scotties hope that translates to playoff success as well. The past three years, they’ve reached the postseason but have failed to earn a win. They fell to Seton LaSalle, 3-1, in the first round last year.

“We’d love to go there and get past the first round,” Bunner said. “We have to keep working. We’re practicing on improving our weaknesses, and we’ve put in some new plays. This is a wonderful group of girls to coach. Academically, they are very strong, too.”

After the 3-1 loss to Frazier to wrap up section play, Southmoreland won its last three section matches.

“It’s been going well. We have a winning mindset,” Pistula said. “We really want to do better than last year.”

The Scotties want to continue that momentum into the playoffs.

“We’re really excited. We have a lot of great girls on the team. We’re a very athletic team, and we have a lot of chemistry,” Sherbondy said. “We definitely don’t want the season to end. We want to go as far as we can and prove what we can do.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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