Trib Cup: Montour boys volleyball team hoping to overcome slow start
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The Montour boys volleyball team learned early on this season wins will not come easy.
The Spartans (1-2 in Section 1-AA) finished fourth in Class AA last season after losing in the WPIAL semifinals and consolation finals.
But as they've found out, a return to the playoffs is not a given.
Coach Brendon Aleski is hoping a stinging, 3-2 loss to Beaver County Christian on Tuesday can right the ship.
“A loss like this can kind of turn your season and can go one of two ways,” the 12th-year coach said. “You can give up and stop working hard and throw in the towel, but I can say I'm confident for us it'll be a wake-up call, and we'll get focused.”
Despite the unexpected early-season struggles, the Spartans' boys volleyball team is a main contributor to Montour's Class AAA seventh-place standing for the Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award.
The Spartans have had little turnover from last year's playoff team, which has kept Aleski optimistic. His go-to hitters — senior Josh Sullivan and Zach Renninger — return as the team's primary point leaders.
Juniors Matt Cain and Tyler Herman man the middle, while senior setter Zach Hartman, a second team all-WPIAL selection last year, aims to play solid defense and spread the ball around the floor.
Seniors Nolan Lasota and Jake Schaeffner and junior Mike Hensler rotate the in back row.
“We're pretty sound for the most part, but we have lapses in games where we'll give up some runs,” Aleski said. “Beaver County Christian is a good team, so if you have some mental lapses and don't do the little things consistently, you give up runs.
“When you give up runs, you're always fighting back and pressing to make something happen.”
Aleski doesn't have to worry about his players throwing in the towel yet. Sullivan said the players are all on the same page and eager to get back on track.
“Recently, we haven't been working as hard as we know we can,” Sullivan said. “We've picked it up in certain aspects, but it's been a slow start. We need to start playing a lot harder because I know we can play.”
Tuesday's loss especially resonated throughout the locker room, and assuring it won't happen again is a top priority.
“After (the Beaver County Christian loss) it was really an eye opener to everyone,” Sullivan said. “That stuff can happen, and we don't want that happening again, so everyone is focused right now.”
Aleski also has the luxury of knowing he is working with talented players who have experienced playoff success and are fundamentally sound.
“I think with this group, our biggest strength is our ball control,” Aleski said. “That's what everything starts with. If we keep handling the ball well and focus on making sure that balls are going to the targets, hopefully we can open everything up.”
Aleski hasn't changed his mindset on what he hopes the group can accomplish this season, but he knows the coming weeks will be crucial to achieving their goals.
“Our expectation was and still is — the season isn't over — make it back to the semifinals,” Aleski said, “and maybe one step closer and make it to states.”
Brian Graham is a freelance writer.
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.
- Pittsburgh Brewing tries to reconnect with region, return to glory days
- Steelers hoping that youth movement breathes life into team
- Pirates’ Worley tosses 4-hit shutout vs. Giants
- Pennsylvania Turnpike Southern Beltway extension gets funding
- Pirates expect high prices in trade market
- Steelers linebacker Spence confident he can avoid injury setbacks
- Steelers notebook: Team hasn’t called on Keisel, Harrison yet
- Police say naked woman stabs three women during street fight in McKees Rocks
- Inside the ropes: Shazier shows off speed
- Westmoreland women stole thousands to finance dog show appearances
- Pa. Congressmen ask NCAA to relax sanctions on Penn State football