WCCA all-star volleyball event has successful 2nd year at Ligonier Valley

Tuesday, November 21, 2023 | 9:40 PM

The traditions at Thanksgiving are endless. The turkey trots, the parades and don’t forget about Charlie Brown.

In Westmoreland County, volleyball enthusiasts were hoping the Westmoreland County Coaches Association All-Star Game continued a tradition that started last season and evolved into a second year Tuesday night at Ligonier Valley High School.

“The plan is to keep this an annual event here at Ligonier Valley, just to showcase the talents of volleyball in the area,” LV athletic director Wesley Siko said. “Because we have good talents to show.”

For the second time, the West team defeated the East team 25-22, 20-25, 25-17 and 25-18.

Cora Coleman of Kiski Area registered 21 assists and finished with nine points on serve to lead the West team, which won last year’s inaugural event 3-2.

No matter the outcome, everyone appeared to come away thankful.

“I had a lot of fun,” East coach Ashten Flynn of Hempfield said. “It’s so cool to be a part of this. It was really refreshing to play volleyball, and nothing truly mattered other than just having a good time. There were no stakes in the game.”

Hempfield enjoyed its best season in Flynn’s three years at the helm, winning a first-round WPIAL Class 4A match against North Hills before bowing to eventual PIAA champion North Allegheny.

Lily Shahan of Belle Vernon added 11 points, Elle Visco of Penn-Trafford finished with six kills and Alyvia Singer of Yough chipped in five blocks for the West.

Ava Krehlik of Latrobe paced the East with 18 assists and 11 points on serve. Elle Snyder of Latrobe registered 10 kills, Emily Berkhimer of Derry and Amarah McCutcheon of Southmoreland totaled six blocks apiece and Kaylee Doppelheuer of Southmoreland wound up with five blocks.

The remaining West members were Addy Rusek of Burrell, Brooke Feorene of Franklin Regional, Abbie Johns and Chloe Welshans of Kiski Area, Jillian Pensenstadler of Norwin, Ella Dindak and Maci Hohman of Penn-Trafford and Jessica Staraniec of Valley.

“It was so much fun to play in this,” said Rusek, a middle hitter at Burrell. “It was great to get together and play one more match with some of my club team members and with the girls I’ve known for some time now. It was an enjoyable time, and I’m sure everyone agrees it’s a great event to have at this time of the year.”

Other East members were Gracie Kindle of Greensburg Central Catholic, Gionnah Ruffner of Greensburg Salem, Zoey Hopkins, Ashley Hosni and Sarah Podkul of Hempfield, Chiara Mongelluozzo of Latrobe and Abrielle Tutino of Ligonier Valley.

“I’m honored to be part of it,” said West coach Dakoda Fickes, who led Kiski Area to a WPIAL Class 3A preliminary-round victory over Belle Vernon. “I told the girls it’s not about the score. It’s more about the camaraderie. I know the girls were excited when we had our little mini-practice on Sunday. I told them to just come up here and have some fun and play the game. This is a great thing the coaches association is doing, and I hope they continue it for many years.”

Former Ligonier Valley athletic director Joe Skura proposed the event last year, and the WCCA took it to heart, launching the event in hopes of making it an annual affair.

The association benefits by the proceeds from ticket and raffle sales, but Ligonier Valley has been tasked with coordinating the schedule for the first two events.

“Thank you to the WCCA for allowing us to host, but we plan on keeping it here for a good bit,” Siko said, “Tradition is what we’re looking for, and we want to do it right before Thanksgiving so families can come and see them play, as well.”

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