Chartiers Valley volleyball ready to take another step
The curse that plagued the Chartiers Valley girls volleyball program came to an end last season.
After finishing third in Section 5-AAA with a 7-5 mark, the Lady Colts qualified for the playoffs. It was the first time Chartiers Valley qualified for the Class AAA postseason and first playoff berth since 2001 when the team was a member of Class AA.
“It got us over the hump,” senior Lauren Schott said. “It ended the curse of not making it for so long. It is such a great accomplishment that brought us together. It gave us the confidence that we can achieve it again.”
The playoff berth was another step in the right direction for coach Sean Clearly's rebuilding process of the program. In his first three seasons from 2008 thought 2010, the team recorded nine wins. The fifth-year coach said the success of last season has given the team a new belief in itself.
“There was a lack of confidence that we had to overcome,” Clearly said. “I knew this team could be successful. They just needed to believe it. This year, this team is confident. They know what they can do on the court. It is an exciting year to be part of this program.”
The team features five seniors, four of whom are starters. Setter Nicole Curran will be in her third year running the offensive attack of the team. Schott had played at middle hitter the past two seasons but made the move to outside hitter this season. Kelly Rodavich returns for her third season starting as an outside hitter.
“(Roadavich) is an all-around great player,” Clearly said. “What she gives us on defense may be greater than what she gives us on offense. What she does give us both ways is amazing.”
Senior Mackenzie Reffert has moved from the outside hitter position to the middle and her coach couldn't be more pleased with her performance.
“She asked for that responsibility and she has shined,” Clearly said.
Maura Teti is another returning senior and can fill in at the setter or defensive specialist position.
The Lady Colts added a sixth senior this season in Kristina Coyne. The middle hitter is new to the sport but Clearly said her experience in other sports such as basketball and track and field have made her a natural in the sport.
“She has such great athletic ability,” Clearly said. “She has great hand-eye coordination. And at this level, that really helps. The more experience she gets on the court is going to make her better and better.”
Chartiers Valley will look to junior Alaina Pandl to fill in at the outside hitter position after playing the spot the last two seasons.
The varsity roster also features six sophomore athletes.
“The returning sophomore class is really strong,” Cleary said. “They may not have gotten much playing time last season but it is one of the strongest classes since I have been here. We have a very deep roster this season.”
The team is off to a 3-3 overall start and 2-2 mark in Section 5-AAA play.
Clearly said his squad is better than the record shows and part of the slow start has been due to a change in philosophy on the court. The team has switched the way it approached defense. The team is focused more on reading what the opposition is doing instead of just reacting. The new approach to defense has improved the team's court vision and Clearly said once the execution is perfect, the defense will help the team become one of the top teams in Class AAA.
“It is something all defenses should be doing,” Reffert said. “It has been a challenge getting used to it. But it does work really well. We are always moving.”
The Lady Colts new defense will look to control their opponents in Section 5-AAA. The section saw a shakeup due to WPIAL realignment. The team will still face Bethel Park, Baldwin, Moon and Mt. Lebanon. But Oakland Catholic and West Mifflin have been replaced by Montour and West Allegheny, two programs making the jump from Class AA to Class AAA.
“There are a lot of teams working hard and beating people as the underdog,” Clearly said. “That has led to a lot of teams being tied at the top of the standings early on.
“Every game is going to have a playoff atmosphere.”
Chartiers Valley returns to the court Thursday as it hosts Montour at 7 p.m.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.