BP runner-up, Canevin champion in girls’ volleyball
Before the WPIAL tournament commenced, Bethel Park girls’ volleyball coach Shawn Palmer pointed to North Allegheny, Pine-Richland and Shaler as the top contenders for the Class AAA title. He was correct. The three earned the top seeds.
Palmer’s Lady Hawks faced them all and beat two of them. And, in this instance, two out of three really wasn’t bad.
For after knocking off the Rams and the Titans, BP reached the district finals for the first time in school history. And though NA swept the Hawks in the championship match Nov. 2 at Chartiers Valley, they took home the runner-up trophy. In the process, they also earned respect as well as a PIAA tournament berth.
The Hawks opened state playoff action last night (Nov. 5) against Pittsburgh City League champion, Taylor Allderdice at Carrick.
“I’m proud of my girls,” said head coach Shawn Palmer. “They gave all they had.”
Experience proved the difference for the Tigers as they had been there before—ninth time—not to mention winning four titles. Yet, in the WPIAL finals, the Lady Hawks gave the Tigers a scare.
Though tied, 21-21, BP dropped the first set when NA scored the final four points for a 25-21 win. The second set, also was deadlocked at 16 and 17, before the Tigers took over, again winning 25-21. The Tigers closed out the match with a 25-18 win in the third set.
As she had throughout the tournament, Stacey Kazalas controlled the action at the net. The senior registered 14 kills against the Tigers. She had 19 kills against the Rams and 16 against the Titans
After opening the playoffs by defeating Upper St. Clair in straight sets, 25-13, 25-13, 25-14, BP toppled No. 2 seed, Pine-Richland, 25-19, 25-20, 25-23, to advance to its first Final Four. On Halloween night, the Black and Orange dominated Shaler, 3-1. Though the Hawks dropped the first set, 25-23, they upset the No. 3 seeded Titans by reeling off victories in the next three sets, 25-19, 25-21, 25-21.
Sarah Storino led BP with 24 digs versus the Titans and Olivia Schanck drilled the serves, nailing aces to secure the victories.
Throughout the tournament the Hawks also benefited from the play up front by Sammi Simpson, Kayte Zeiler, Hannah Gleeson and Jessica Hanson. In addition to Storino, Morgan Stelmaszynski excelled as defensive specialist while Kaileigh Poe and Rachel Dunay set well for the Hawks.
Also playing important roles were Taylor Mannarino, Emily Marzina, Paige Chalus and Carly Mansfield.
“Heart and effort,” said Palmer. “It took a lot of both to get this far.”
In a rematch of last year’s final, Bishop Canevin reversed the tables on Greensburg Central Catholic, 3-2, and captured the WPIAL Class A title. While the Centurions were the 2012 champions, the Crusaders entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed.
After defeating Serra in straight sets, 25-7, 25-19 and 25-18, the Crusaders reached the finals for the third time in four years when they defeated Neshannock. In the semifinals, Canevin swept the Lancers, 25-21, 25-11 and 25-13. Erin Cunningham led the Crusaders with 10 kills while Bailey McDonald collected 31 assists.
After falling behind the Centurions, 25-17, 23-25, 23-25, the Crusaders responded with wins in the final sets, 25-13 and 15-9, to seal their title.
Cunningham again led in kills with 19. She added five service aces. Ashley Grimm produced eight kills for Canevin, which opened up an 8-2 advantage in the fourth set.
Experience keyed Canevin’s success as the club featured eight seniors, who played on last year’s runner-up club. In addition to Grimm, Rachel Shaw, Callie Jacobs, Sam Kelsch, Morgan Reisz, Allison Killen, Katie Gestiehr and Mary Hicks will graduate this spring.
But not before they help Canevin in the PIAA playoffs. The Crusaders were scheduled to played District 9 runner-up Elk County Catholic last night at Chartiers Valley in their state tournament opener.
Among the other players to help Canevin achieve its championship were: juniors Katy Correa, Rachel Rittelmann, Maggie Frost and Sarah Temple, sophomores Riana Conway, Bailey McDonald, Julie Menosky, Jadye Morgan and Anneliese Balog as well as freshmen Katie Kelsch and Eva Zenk.