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Connellsville volleyball aims to build on 2011 playoff berth

Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier - Connellsville's Maria Merendino prepares to serve during volleyball practice at Connellsville Junior High West on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier</em></div>Connellsville's Maria Merendino prepares to serve during volleyball practice at Connellsville Junior High West on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier - Isabella Sigado is one of nine returning letter-winners on the Connellsville girls volleyball team.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier</em></div>Isabella Sigado is one of nine returning letter-winners on the Connellsville girls volleyball team.

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Connellsville volleyball

• Coach Stacey Domer will be aided by assistant coach Brooke Gallentine and volunteer coach Leah Ambrosini.

• The Falcons open the season with an exhibition match at Kiski Area on Aug. 31.

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Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, 11:59 p.m.
 

In her first full season as coach of the Connellsville girls volleyball team, Stacey Domer guided the Falcons to a third-place finish in Section 2-AAA, which earned the team a spot in the WPIAL playoffs.

With nine returning letter-winners and seven returning starters in the fold for 2012, expectations to improve on last year's performance are high.

“We have four seniors and nine juniors, so we have a lot of upperclassmen,” Domer said about her 23-player roster.

Connellsville also features four freshmen, which should bode well for future seasons. The Connellsville Junior High West team posted a 29-0 record last season.

“We have a good base coming up,” Domer said.

Connellsville also has six sophomores who help make up the roster, which features plenty of depth.

“Last year we had the ability to make substitutions, and we have that ability again,” Domer said. “We have depth at every position.”

Connellsville is expected to be tough at the net. with junior middle hitter/blocker Isabella Sigado and outside hitter Maria Merendino as well as senior outside/right side hitter Lauren Harvey looking for kills.

According to Harvey, team unity is key.

“Our team bonding is great, and we play well together,” Harvey said.

Senior Caitlin Williams and junior Emma Bell are expected to be the top setters.

“I really hope we can make the playoffs,” Williams said. “The group of girls is good.”

Juniors Marissa Keffer and Melissa Kirby lettered last year and will be defensive specialists, as will returning senior starter Sarah Kline.

According to Kline, team speed could give the Falcons a big edge this season.

“I'm looking forward to the season,” Kline said. “We have a quick team that can run quick defenses and offenses. We've always been fast, but I think this year is exceptional.”

Senior libero Allie Means is also a returning starter who will strengthen the defense.

“We just want to improve our overall play,” Means said. “We communicate well together.”

Connellsville entered last year's playoffs as the bottom seed in Class AAA and lost in straight sets in the first round of the postseason to Seneca Valley.

“Our goal this year is to improve our playoff seeding,” Domer said. “We want to move up.”

In order to reach their goals, the Falcons will need strong leadership. Domer doesn't see that being a problem, with four returning senior starters as well as junior standouts Sigado and Merendino.

“They (Sigado and Merendino) have great leadership skills, and their ability level is very high,” Domer said. “It's the same way with the seniors. The seniors pick up the girls when they are down.”

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com or 724-626-3534.

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