Serra volleyball team makes adjustments before WPIAL quarterfinal
It's not unusual for the Serra Catholic girls volleyball team to have to share the school gymnasium.
There's only one facility, and it's used at this time of the year for optional basketball conditioning sessions, cheerleading and even the theatre department.
Those are the normal users. When the Eagles had to schedule a last workout Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday's WPIAL Class A quarterfinal match against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at 7:30 p.m. at Baldwin, they had to vie for space with the boys soccer team, which will play in the WPIAL Class A semifinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday against Riverside at Hopewell.
Both teams were originally slated to play their matches Tuesday, but had the dates moved back in anticipation of problems from Hurricane Sandy.
“It wasn't my prediction, but you've got to make accommodations,” Serra Catholic volleyball coach Chad Farrington said. “They just did a lot of agility drills. Basically it's all they can do in there.”
While the boys have already guaranteed themselves at least one more game this season — either in the WPIAL Class A championship game or in the third-place consolation match against the loser of that game for the third and final slot in the state tournament, both of which will be played Saturday at sites and times to be determined — the girls volleyball team has no such guarantee. The seventh-seeded Eagles need a victory over the Chargers, who are seeded second in the WPIAL and ranked No. 9 in the state by the Pa. Volleyball Coaches Association, if they are to extend their season and guarantee themselves a spot in the PIAA Class A playoffs.
All four Class A semifinal participants in volleyball earn slots in the state playoffs.
Because of the weather delay, Serra Catholic had an extra day to prepare for a team it lost to in a three-set match and in a one-set, winner-take-all match at OLSH's home tournament just prior to the postseason. But because of the way the Eagles played in those two meetings there is cautious optimism the team, which had never made it into the quarterfinals, can pull an upset and qualify for the state tournament for the first time in school history.
“We played them tough. We didn't come out on top, but it gave us a lot of confidence that we can hang with them now,” Farrington said. “I feel like the last week of the season and in the playoffs we were going up, and we're still going up.”
That one day could make a big difference for both schools. Though it gives each an extra day to prepare, it's also one more day away from game action. For a sport that requires precision timing on sets and swings, being a hair off or a tad rusty could mean a great deal, especially for two teams that have not played a competitive match for a week.
“The extra day, it builds up the anticipation and the anxiety, but we were never under two games a week, and sometimes we had three and four and tournaments,” Farrington said. “Coming off a schedule like that it's going to be a challenge to keep up, but I think the girls are up for it and whenever their number is called, they're going to be ready.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.