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Trib Cup: Bishop Canevin volleyball players don't want to settle for silver

| Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, 11:48 p.m.

The Bishop Canevin girls volleyball team knows a thing or two, to be specific, about finishing in second place.

The Crusaders advanced to the WPIAL Class A championship in two of the past three years, but settled for a silver medal in each appearance. They were beaten by Frazier in 2010 and last year by Greensburg Central Catholic.

“(The seniors') outlook is about going out winners. ... They want to end their high school careers by winning a WPIAL championship,” coach Kevin Walters said. “All of the seniors have been there with this program the last two out of three years.

“They know how to get there and they know the feeling of being in second place.”

In the first installment of the Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award feature, the focus is on the Crusaders and their quest for attaining the elusive WPIAL title.

If they aren't the odds on favorites, Bishop Canevin (3-0 in Section 6-A) is clearly one of the top teams in Class A. With nine returning starters — six of which are seniors — the Crusaders worked hard during the offseason and have become what Walters described as his most athletic team to date.

“I just think athletically if they didn't play this sport, they'd probably be playing another sport and excelling,” Walters said. “They are more multi-talented than they are just volleyball players. I think athletic-wise, they are a group of kids that are going to play hard every night out.”

The Crusaders' line-up is filled with all-section, all-WPIAL and even an all-state player. With that talent and experience, their success will not be a surprise to anyone.

Senior outside hitter Ashley Grimm, an All-WPIAL and all-state selection, leads a senior laden group that also features Callie Jacobs, Mary Hicks, Katie Gestiehr, Sam Kelsch and Morgan Reisz. Sophomores Bailey McDonald, Erin Cunningham and Julia Menosky all contributed last year and are seen as the future of the program.

“Hopefully, they continue to understand the team concept and what it takes to not only be good as an individual player but as a group,” Walters said. “To do what we want to do, it'll take more than one or two people to do it.

“There are four, five, six girls on the court at anytime that can do anything at anytime to score points, dig the ball, whatever.”

Talent aside, Walters said this group has somewhat of a chip on its shoulder having been so close to a title twice before. For this group of Crusaders, the losses are welcomed motivation that will be harnessed and used throughout the season.

“Immediately after those losses I'm sure the girls were down and out a bit, knowing that that part of the season is over,” Walters said. “I think at least for myself and this program, the goal of every team in Western Pennsylvania is to win that WPIAL title.

“I fully expect them to come back strong again this year and try to change the outcome of previous years.”

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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