These wolves were too big and bad for the Shenango High girls volleyball team.
The Lady Wildcats dropped their quarterfinal-round matchup in the WPIAL Class A playoffs, 25-17, 25-19, 25-13 to West Shamokin last night at North Allegheny High School.
“I thought it was a solid performance for us,” Lady Wolves coach Justin Nolder said. “I thought Shenango gave it a good run, but I thought we were more offensively potent than they were.”
Shenango’s stellar season, which included a Section 3-A championship, comes to an end at 16-3.
West Shamokin (9-3) advances to the semifinals against Greensburg Central Catholic at 6 p.m. today at North Hills High School. The Lady Wolves also secured a spot in the PIAA playoffs with a win. The WPIAL qualifies the top four teams in Class A to the state playoffs.
Most of West Shamokin’s offense came from Jill Glover, a well-rounded player with a devastating spike. Glover, standing at 6-foot, is a two-sport star who won all-WPIAL honors as a freshman in volleyball while averaging a team-best 15.2 points in basketball. She committed to Edinboro’s volleyball program in September.
“She’s a once-in-a-lifetime player you have an opportunity to coach,” Nolder said. “She does such a good job. Her skill is excellent. She doesn’t wear it on her sleeve. Those two things combined are pretty potent. There are a lot of good players who wear their emotions on their sleeves, and she does not. She certainly can play all phases of the game.”
Glover led the Lady Wolves to a 25-17 victory in the first game, as the Lady Wildcats seemed tentative and tense.
“Our team is always a little tight before every game,” Shenango coach Angela Heagy said. “After about five points they mellowed out a bit. They actually weren’t as nervous as I thought they would be.”
The Lady Wildcats responded with a solid second game, partially because of strong play by junior libero Jade Esposito to keep Glover in check. Esposito was the best player on the floor for Shenango during the playoffs, using her position as defensive specialist to save points for her squad. Esposito made terrific defensive plays throughout the match and dug several of Glover’s monster spikes. She finished with 14 digs.
“Jade had an amazing game,” Heagy said. “She can always be counted to make those point-breaker plays. Glover’s a great player. She’s obviously a valuable asset to her team. I thought my players did a really great job frustrating her. I think she’s used to scoring more points than she did. Jade was digging everything up against her. I think we battled her as well as we could. We just couldn’t find a flow on offense.”
The second game was more competitive than the first. The score was tied at 18 before a 7-1 run by West Shamokin gave them the victory, 25-19.
Knowing the season was on the line, Shenango started strong in the third game. After the Lady Wildcats extended an early lead to 8-3, Nolder called a timeout to get his team on track.
“I simply recommended we start playing our game,” Nolder said. “We started to play more toward their style of dunk, dink and tip. It was not working for us. We needed to flex our muscles, so to speak, when we had an opportunity to slap the ball. Shenango was covering very aggressively and really doing that well.”
The Lady Wolves delivered after the stoppage. They rallied to tie the game at 11, before going on an eight-point run to put the game out of reach. It was three straight kills by Glover that ended the match and the season for Lady Wildcats. Shenango’s Katie Lacey led the team with six kills. Senior Sophia Koury had four kills in her final game. Sarah Herb had six assists.
“They didn’t let up, which I’m very proud of,” Heagy said. “I am shocked we made it this far. Our first couple games were really rough. I think the work ethic of these girls has really shined this season. They are responsible for all the effort and progress they made this season. I am really proud of them.”