The Pittston Area and Wyoming Area volleyball teams each suffered through losing seasons in 2013. But both teams expect to overcome a few losses to graduation and contend this season.
They will have to wait two weeks once the season starts to see each other on the court. That match takes place on Sept. 16 at Pittston Area.
Pittston Area’s 2-15 mark from a season ago was not indicative of how the team operated down the stretch. The Patriots broke their “no-win” barrier going back to 2011.
“I think this group of girls will produce some more wins,” head coach Danielle McAndrew said. “With another year comes more experience.”
Returning senior setter Jackie Rabender will lead a group that includes seniors Irene Magdon, Kaitlyn Simyan and Alia Gestl. That corps of players will provide the pop that McAndrew is looking for.
The Patriots will have to do it without former team captain Tiffany Smith, who was a great motivator to the other girls, as well as a player and teammate, McAndrew said.
“We have a returning setter and one in training, hitters and excellent servers,” she said. “We are expecting big things from these players and I hope they provide leadership for the newer girls.”
Pittston Area added 14 new players to the team this year. The trio of Kirsten Durling, Anna McDermott and Marley O’Brien will see a lot of the action throughout the season.
McAndrew expects some serious challenges from her Patriots. The program has been down, but that doesn’t mean this year has to be that way.
“With the foundation we set up last year, I think this season will be one of the more successful seasons we have seen in the program for a while,” she said. “We have a great group of athletes who are very capable of competing and producing wins. Our overall goal, as a team, is to have more wins than we did the previous year.”
Following an 8-9 season under former coach Noah Pickett, the Warriors will look to get back to the .500 plateau with first-year coach Nick Diaco.
Diaco was the head coach for the Dallas boys volleyball team last season.
Wyoming Area will be without a trio of varsity contributors lost due to graduation. Leading the team in kills last season was Gabby Bohon with 134. She also contributed 31 blocks. Another outside hitter, Kaitlyn Kross, recorded 112 kills and 32 blocks. The third loss is Melissa Kazmerick, who was a key part in the Warriors’ success a year ago.
With those losses, Wyoming Area will be leaning on a core of players who have been together since seventh grade.
Returning middle hitter Samantha Acacio will carry the weight of the team, and according to Diaco is “poised for a big year up front.” Acacio recorded 153 kills and 46 blocks in last season’s campaign.
Acacio will be joined on the court by captains Mallory Bohan, Audrey Hiedacavage and Morgan Deangelo.
“(Those 3) look to leave their mark this year on the WVC as they lead the team to a successful season,” Diaco said.
Defensively, Hope Crawn and Marissa Urban will provide the stability in the back and be the glue of the defensive scheme.
There are a few new players coming to the fray for Wyoming Area, making the transition from JV to varsity.
“Sophomores Nicole Wright and Jess Sorick are making their mark on the varsity team as they become underclassmen varsity members,” Diaco said. “Every girl on the team is giving it their all to contribute to a winning season.”
While coaching the boys program at Dallas, Diaco has realized that the two leagues are completely different. He said each year the boys seem to have powerhouse programs year after year, but not the girls.
“It seems that the title could be up for grabs year after year,” Diaco said.
Pittston Area needs just three wins to get over last year’s threshold. With the experience and talent the Patriots have, that may not be an issue. McAndrew hopes to get the team back on the map.
“There is always a large divide in schools that treat volleyball more serious than others,” she said. “I am hoping to change that perception at Pittston Area.”
Pittston Area opened at home on Friday against Holy Redeemer. Wyoming Area waits until Wednesday, Sept. 4 to kick off its season.