St. Alphonsus' boys volleyball team notches second undefeated season
St. Alphonsus School's boys volleyball program has been around for only three seasons, but its junior-varsity Red team recently completed its second consecutive undefeated season and clinched the 2014 diocesan championship for a second straight year.
The team's triumphs seem improbable with so many other teams in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh's league having more experienced programs, but its road to success seems to have something to do with family ties.
Will Sheets, typically a backline defender for the team at the Wexford school, took an interest in volleyball after watching his older sister, Gesica, play in St. Alphonsus' girls program. Four of the team's nine players have had sisters play volleyball for St. Alphonsus, and two more had older brothers play, too.
“Most of us have older sisters that play volleyball, and we watched them,” said Will Sheets, 12, of Muddy Creek. “I was intrigued by it. I very much liked the sport.”
Tim Sheets, the father of Will and Gesica Sheets and the coach of the team, said that the boys probably have been able to pick up the sport a little quicker because they've watched their sisters play.
“The reason a lot of the boys are playing is because their sisters have had success in the girls program,” Tim, 47, said. “When we watched her games, he kind of absorbed it and knows what's going on.”
Tim Sheets, who has coached the JV Red team for three seasons and will coach one of St. Alphonsus' two varsity teams next season, said that when the program started, no one on his team had competitive playing experience.
“The first year, none of these boys had played before, so it's nice to watch the evolution of them getting better and better,” the coach said. “I lost four kids this year that moved up to the varsity program, and I was pleasantly surprised by this year's team.”
While last year's team might have had some better athletes, the coach said, this year's team played with more cohesiveness.
“You have to pass, set, hit, and we were doing that,” Tim Sheets said. “We weren't just getting the ball over, and we're not spiking the ball down on the third hit, but because we can make those three plays, we've had success.”
Will Sheets said he wants to continue following in his sister's footsteps. Gesica Sheets, 16, has become the starting setter for Vincentian Academy in McCandless.
“It's funny, because he has a lot of the same skills I did at his age,” said Gesica Sheets, 16. “I gradually came into my position, and he plays a lot like me.”
Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.