West Shamokin volleyball team familiar with state tournament foes
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The act of competing for a PIAA Class A girls volleyball title is new to all but one of West Shamokin's players.
The opposition that lines the path to the final, however, is quite familiar to the Wolves.
Participation in three regular-season tournaments exposed West Shamokin to almost every one of the seven teams that sit on its half of the statewide bracket, which basically is split into east and west sides. The Wolves begin PIAA play with a first-round match at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Cochranton High School against District 10 champion Maplewood, which, like West Shamokin, participated in the Clarion Area tournament in late September.
“When the names (of potential PIAA opponents) came up, it was like, ‘Oh yeah, we've seen them,' ” coach Justin Nolder said. “So we have put ourselves in a position to see almost every one of them. Now we get a chance to play them when it matters.”
The Class A champions of District 9 (Clarion), District 6 (Penns Manor) and the WPIAL (Greensburg Central Catholic) competed in the tournament hosted by West Shamokin in early October — Clarion defeated Greensburg Central Catholic in the finals.
Another PIAA qualifier, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, the WPIAL's fourth-place finisher, lost to the Wolves in the finals of its own tournament Oct. 20.
Among the teams on the west half the bracket, only WPIAL runner-up Bishop Canevin, a potential quarterfinal-round opponent, and District 9 runner-up Port Allegany, a possible semifinal-round foe, did not cross paths with West Shamokin.
West Shamokin held its own against the elite competition earlier in the year. Nolder needs his girls to believe they not only belong among the state's best, but that they're capable of beating such talent.
“If rankings were to come out right now, we'd be right in the thick of things,” Nolder said. “Unfortunately, rankings don't mean anything. We have to turn those rankings into results.”
Confidence has steadily increased for West Shamokin since its win over Section 1-A rival Riverview on Oct. 2. The Wolves surged to tie for second in the section and fared well in late-season tournaments, most notably the OLSH competition that occurred just before the start of the playoffs.
“We didn't have that team bond (early on),” junior libero Kristen Templeton said. “I think when we played Riverview that second time, we really clicked.”
Only senior Jill Glover has previously started for a PIAA-qualifying team. The rest of the Wolves are ready to see how they stack up against the best in the state.
“I think we just all need to believe we can do it,” junior Kelly Clowser said.
Three losses to Greensburg Central Catholic — two in the regular season and one in the WPIAL semifinals — weigh on the minds of West Shamokin. But the Lady Wolves became more optimistic about their chances of competing at the PIAA level after their most recent run-in with the Centurions.
“We were keeping up with them,” junior Alecia Calhoun said. “We didn't get down on ourselves.”
Mood management is the key, according to senior setter Jen Notto. She does not struggle with nerves or self-doubt, and she hopes to spread her Zen state to Calhoun and junior Amanda Wensel, the team's two nervy middle hitters.
“I try to pick them up because they get down on themselves,” Notto said.
Wensel acknowledged a run in the PIAA tournaments hinges on the Lady Wolves' ability to find a balance between self-confident and self-critical.
Said Calhoun: “I think if we made it this far, we can keep going.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1303.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers stalled by Seahawks, on outside of AFC wild-card picture
- Fox Chapel grad VIllani performing magic for Wizards
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger reported symptoms that led to his exit vs. Seahawks
- Rossi: It’s past time for NFL to protect players
- Steelers notebook: Seahawks’ Sherman gets better of WR Brown
- Family of man accused of shooting St. Clair officer say allegations don’t fit his character
- Sports Deli is latest tenant to say goodbye to Parkway Center Mall
- Steelers players say they support Tomlin’s attempts at deception
- Package thefts can be prevented, police, experts say
- Pennsylvania Game Commission reaps revenue from shale gas under game lands
- Veterans courts in Pennsylvania dubbed remedy for recidivism