The Shenango girls believe their program is trending upward.
With a 15-person roster, the Lady Wildcats have nearly doubled their roster from when Kevin Zona took over the program two seasons ago. They plan to play a full junior varsity slate, too.
“Having JV is really going to help out,” Zona said. “We only got to play one JV game last year. We’ll definitely have it this year, which is good.”
Coming off a 12-11 season, which saw the team reach the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs, the Lady Wildcats will have this group together for two seasons as they don’t have any seniors.
“Practices have been going really well. I have a great group of coachable kids. They pay attention to detail and want to learn,” Zona said. “They’ve bought into the program and game plans we have. They are committed and show up ready to work. That makes my job easier.”
The team’s commitment remained strong, even in an offseason thrown off track by pandemic restrictions.
“Considering the circumstances, we had a really good summer. We worked heavily on individual skill sets, basketball IQ and terminology,” Zona said. “It tailed off in the fall because 12 of my players played volleyball. We’ve been working on doing the little things and more skill work, though. We’ve been preaching to them about having meaningful reps and not to take any reps off. We want to go game speed and go hard and they have been really doing that.
“Overall, I feel we are ahead of schedule. We’re preparing for the season like it’s going to start on time,” he continued. “We have to take one game at a time and keep making progress.”
The team returns seven letterwinners in junior Kassidy Peters and sophomores Emilee Fedrizzi, Kylee Rubin, Janie Natale, Angelina DePaolo, Madison Iwanejko and Ashley DeCarbo, who tore an ACL in the team’s last home game. However, she recovered enough to play volleyball in the fall.
“I love seeing her come back and so fast,” Zona said. “She is going 100 percent in practice. That’s the only way she knows how to go.”
Shenango hopes to use some of its height as an advantage.
“We have really good size and these girls can all play multiple positions, which is nice,” Zona said. “We’ll pose some matchup problems for the opposition, which is good since we’ll be able to do different things offensively and defensively. That’ll come in handy. We’re going to be really good defensively. We’ll be able to alter shots; we have some rim protectors this year.”
The Lady Wildcats hope to contend for a top spot in Section 1-2A. They finished 6-8 in the section last year and lost to Ellis School in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.
“We do compete in a tough section, but we feel we can compete for a section title. We’re trying take care of us, but we have enough talent,” Zona said. “The girls are working hard. They are eager to learn and that’s going to make them better. That allows us to get a lot of stuff done. We’re moving quickly and having good, efficient practices.”