Highlights reeling in for C-M netters
When Canon-McMillan hosts Peters Township at 7 p.m. Oct. 17, the Lady Macs will have an opportunity to place an exclamation point on their already successful volleyball season.
Ranked in the Top 10 in Class AAA of the WPIAL, the Lady Macs already have clinched a playoff berth as well as their second section title in school history. The only detail remaining is the record. Heading into this week’s action, which included a match with Connellsville, CM raised its league mark to 10-0 with an impressive victory over Upper St. Clair.
“The whole season has been a ‘highlight reel’,” said an enthused Sheila Mitchell. “We started strong and never let up. Getting huge wins against section rivals in the first half has helped to keep our momentum going. Winning the section title is a major highlight.”
More milestones are on the horizon for the Lady Macs as long as they continue to replicate their level of play, The WPIAL playoffs commence next week after the steering committee meets Oct. 21 to announce pairings. The championships are scheduled for Oct. 31.
“We have to continue to play the way we are playing,” said Mitchell of her team’s prospects for a district title. “We can’t let down. We need to focus first on our remaining section matches. They are tough.”
Tough is the competition in Class AAA of the WPIAL. In addition to the Lady Macs, North Allegheny, Shaler and Bethel Park were on track to finish their league play undefeated and Norwin, out of Section 1, had only one defeat. All are ‘tough’, Mitchell says, but what makes the playoffs complicated for the Lady Macs is the fact many contenders also hail from Section 2. While that makes it a challenge, Mitchell promises the Big Macs will be prepared.
“We will be looking at all of the teams and will be ready for whichever ones we are matched against,” said the CM skipper.
The Lady Macs plan to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs. Last year, Fox Chapel dispatched Canon-Mac in the tournament opener.
Although the Lady Macs had not made a playoff appearance prior to 2006, last year’s experience has made them hungry, not to mention prepared. “We got a taste of what it was like and I hope that helps this team this year,” Mitchell said. “We know what it takes and we are working toward the ultimate titles to come.”
Experience has spearheaded CM’s progress. Most of the team has played together for two years, some for three seasons. According to Mitchell, this has been the secret to CM’s success. “It definitely helps,” she said, “because they know how to work well with each other.”
Along with experience, CM has a lot of hitting options. Plus, the Lady Macs serve well as a team.
Some like Olivia Lorusso and Carrigan Robinson do both well. Both are senior starters.
Robinson leads the team with 32 service aces and 167 digs. She has recorded 63 kills to go along with 10 assists and one block.
Lorusso, who has been recruited to play softball for Robert Morris, leads the club in kills with 109 and blocks with 23. The middle blocker adds 121 digs to her totals. A standout in basketball, Lorusso has also accumulated 28 aces and five assists.
Miranda Weston is the squad’s setter. The senior leads the team with 323 assists. She has 128 digs to go along with 22 aces, 44 kills and 12 blocks.
CM employs a strategy featuring three defensive specialists. Sophomore Katla Steiner joins Breanna Finley and Hunter Lawrence in the starting line-up. Steiner, Lawrence and Finley have racked up their share of digs, 87, 75 and 65 respectively.
During matches, Mitchell utilizes the talents of four key reserves. Among them are senior outside hitter Maleia Ruane, junior middle blocker Kathleen Davey, junior right side hitter McKenzie Monoghan and junior serving specialist Anna Chelli, who has 18 aces. Ruane owns 58 kills and 74 digs. Kavey has 70 kills to go along with 21 blocks, second on the team. Monoghan has balanced numbers with 45 kills, 14 assists, 28 digs, nine blocks and five aces.