WILKES-BARRE – Sarah Warnagiris didn't forget the lessons learned four years ago on the volleyball court.
Then a young freshman at Holy Redeemer, Warnagiris watched the routines of Royal greats Monica Wignot and Allie Griswold as they worked and prepared for what was ahead on the road toward Redeemer greatness.
Ever since I was a freshman, I fell in love with the sport and I always wanted to play it at a high level, she said. I wanted to get better, and I had great role models like Monica Wignot and Allie Griswold. They really pushed me to be a better volleyball player. And I really set my standards high to get there.
Four years later, it's Warnagiris that dominated the area and conference as the senior has been named as Most Valuable Player of the Times Leader girls' volleyball squad.
Everyone gave me tips along the way to become a good volleyball player, she said. Everyone was so helpful and willing to help me learn and develop.
It was no shock to see 20-plus kills a night on the stat sheet next to the senior's name.
She dominated the big matches.
Twenty-four kills against Delaware Valley; a match that eventually determined conference bragging rights.
In the PIAA Class 2A opener, she totaled 16 kills and used a lethal jump-serve in a straight-set win over Wellsboro. She followed it up with another strong showing in her final scholastic match, a loss to state runner-up Delone Catholic in the quarterfinals.
My goal was to continue our streak and be the Wyoming Valley Conference champions. After that, it was to win a district title and see how far we could go in states, she said.
Then again, when you grow in a system where greatness is the attitude, you develop with that mindset.
It was Wignot, a second-team Big East selection at the University of Pittsburgh this season, that took Warnagiris under her wing as a young volleyball player.
Taught her about the proper approach to each match. Showed her hitting techniques for more power.
You are always learning from the person in front of you, and for Sarah, that person was Monica. If you look at them, they are similar, Redeemer head coach Jack Kablick said. Early in her career, we didn't play her very much in the back row. We wanted her to get that passing down at the varsity level. She worked so hard on that aspect of her game. I would guess that she did close to 100 per day. She is just a complete product.
And her dream is to continue to build on the collegiate level – similar to Wignot and Griswold.
When you are in a system with so many great hitters, you are always being pushed to be the best. We've been very fortunate to have the best hitters, and it really helps you grow into a great player, Warnagiris said. I am looking forward to continuing my career at the next level.
Biz Eaton, Holy Redeemer
Ali Matulewski, Nanticoke
Emily Sipple, Crestwood
Kirsten Young, MMI Prep