NEW CASTLE —
The Shenango High girls volleyball team has first place all to itself.
The Lady Wildcats shook off their first loss of the season Monday with a 25-21, 14-25, 25-21, 25-19 WPIAL Section 3-A road victory over Laurel last night.
Shenango (6-0, 8-1) suffered its first defeat to Beaver, a Class AA member, in four games, and went into last night’s match tied with the Lady Spartans for first place in the section.
“I think they took it (the loss to Beaver) as a learning moment,” Lady Wildcats assistant coach Mark Lonett said. “Bouncing back and still being able to play strong in a key section match was big.”
The loss bumps the Lady Spartans (5-1, 7-1) into second place.
“It’s always sad to lose a match, especially when you’ve been winning or have a winning record,” Laurel coach Nikki Downing said. “That by far was the best we’ve played all year together.
“We’ve always lost to Shenango in the first game, at home. I wanted to win. I thought we were going to win. They were a good team and we knew we had to clean up our side of the court and not make errors. It could have went either way, really.”
Sophia Koury slammed 10 kills for the Lady Wildcats and Jade Esposito scooped up 14 digs. Christina Rapone notched nine assists and Nicole Watkins added three aces.
“It was definitely a big win going into Laurel,” Lonett said. “They had a lot of support backing them. We played strong throughout the matches.
“It’s good to see us making an aggressive run at the postseason and a strong run at the section title.”
Mackenzie Mraz led the Lady Spartans (5-1, 7-1) with 14 kills and five points, while Allie Collier contributed nine kills, three blocks and four points.
Leah Telesz followed with eight kills, eight digs and three points, and Rachael Baker chipped in with seven digs and six points. Makayla Dupont was next with 27 assists and for points.
Kristan Fedrizzi scooped up 18 digs for the hosts.
“I think in a way this is good for us,” Downing said. “It puts us in a good position. I feel my girls want to settle a lot and they feel they have something in the bag when they’ve already beaten someone.
“When we play teams that we should get an easy win against, we pull our hair out trying to get a win. Maybe next time they’ll have an attitude that they need to put forth a great effort to win at Shenango. This is not a stop sign for us. It’s a continuation of the journey and we need to grow.”
Downing was particularly pleased with Mraz’s effort.
“I thought Mackenzie was the fire of the team,” Downing said. “She hit every ball and messed with their defense a little bit.
“She has been our go-to player. She was a leader out there. I think she will carry this on for the rest of the season.”
Shenango won the JV match as well, 25-19, 25-15.
Irene Koury spiked nine kills for the Lady Wildcats.
Allyson Kendall posted four points and five digs for the Lady Spartans, and Callie Ritchie added three kills and three points.