NEW CASTLE —
Sometimes you just need to see them done by a champion.
On the brink of its first playoff berth in seven years, Neshannock High girls volleyball coach Andrew Frank decided to take his team to watch the fundamental play of the five-time national champion Penn State Lady Lions.
Last night at Union, the Lady Lancers (8-4 section, 10-6 overall) applied the same fundamentals in a 25-17, 25-18, 25-19 victory.
“They got an eyeful of what Division I, high-level volleyball is,” Frank said. “They saw it and their eyes lit up.”
Frank, a former student-athlete at Penn State, still attends coaching camps at the university.
“In my two years at Neshannock, the girls have really started to understand the fundamentals of the game and apply them to competition,” Frank said. “That is the game. That’s what Penn State taught me. That’s what they continue to teach me.”
The Lady Lancers, winners of four straight, clinched their second playoff berth in volleyball in school history. Playoff pairings will be announced Monday.
“It’s interesting to see how these girls have handled winning,” Frank said. “I think at times winning was a surprise to them. I think what we’ve learned over the season is we have the capabilities and the fundamentals to be very competitive and win in tough situations.”
Katelyn Burrelli and Rayanna Furst led the charge for the Lady Lancers with six points, three aces, and four kills each. Jordan Wethli, 10, and Madison Altmyer, 5, were the leaders in kills. Taylor Frank, the coach’s daughter, contributed four points, four kills and 20 assists. Annalisa Frengel had nine points and six aces.
“We played hard each game focusing on offensive strategies,” Frank said. “We transition very well and served very well. If we continue that type of play going into playoffs, we should be very competitive.”
For the Lady Scots (5-7, 8-9), the season ended with an eye toward the future. On a team mostly composed of sophomores, coach Bob Miller hopes they will only get better.
“We’re only graduating two seniors, Casey Brophy and Allyson Conrad,” Miller said. “Most of our team is sophomores, so we’re in pretty good shape.”
“They really had a good year,” Miller said of his seniors. “They both played really well and provided a lot of leadership. It will be tough to replace them.”
It was the underclassmen who led the statistics for the Lady Scots. Morgan Miller led the team in digs and kills with four each. Christina Noble added four aces. Tyanna Harris had four assists with Jasmine Major serving three aces.
Neshannock’s JV girls were winners, 22-25, 28-26, 15-7.
Kaela Zingaro’s nine points, five kills, and four aces led the team. Twin sister, Gina, followed with six points and 15 assists. Tayler Grybowski had five points, seven kills and three aces. Cassidy Burrelli scored six points with six kills. Autumn Paolini killed five.
Lady Scots JV statistics were not provided.
Wilmington’s Abby Sotter supplied 15 points, nine digs and seven kills in a 25-19, 25-18, 25-17 win over Mercer.
“We played better (last night),” Lady Greyhounds coach Amber Marett said. “Abby really had a great night serving and everyone was hitting the ball. It was nice to see the offense come alive.”
Cassidy Marett rolled up seven points, eight digs and 32 assists for Wilmington (6-4, 9-5) and Stephanie Parker provided seven markers, 10 digs and 11 kills.
Lexi Ligo collected six points and 12 digs, while Tessa Sikora chipped in with four points, four blocks, four digs and 10 kills. Katherine Clark collected six digs and Saloma Byler added three blocks and four kills.
The Lady Greyhounds’ JV team won 25-13, 19-25, 15-11.
Jamie Thompson tallied nine points, 13 assists and six digs, while Rachel Vernon contributed eight markers, five kills and four digs. Madeline Whiting was next with seven points and three kills. Alana Romeo scooped up five digs.
It was a bittersweet ending to the season for Ellwood City Lincoln.
The Lady Wolverines (4-6, 7-6) handled visiting Freedom, 25-9, 25-14, 25-9.
It was the final game for two cornerstones of a program that started five years ago, seniors Angela McCowin and Isabella Williams.
“They really helped me build this team,” coach Kim Frampton said. “They were our two original players. It was a good night for them.”
McCowin led the team with 17 kills and six blocks. Williams contributed 17 assists.
“It’s tough seeing them go,” Frampton said of her departing seniors. “Fortunately we’re going to come back with a lot of strong players.”
Seniors Asia Borders and Carson Kegel also had big nights. Borders completed six kills to go with three blocks. Kegel scored five aces and scooped 14 digs.
“It’s great to walk away from this season with a win,” Frampton said. “It was great seeing all the girls excited, smiling, and happy on the court. They are like a family.”
Despite the loss of her four seniors, Frampton says the future is bright for the young program.
“Based on how we performed in JV and varsity this year, I feel like we have a lot of confidence going into next season,” Frampton said. “We have juniors who played varsity this year and have two tall, middle-hitting freshmen we’re looking forward to.”
Ellwood City’s JV team also won, 25-20, 25-19.
NEW CASTLE —
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