Frazier volleyball begins new era
The Frazier volleyball team has won three straight section championships and captured the 2010 WPIAL Class A championship. Now, it appears that the Commodores are about to begin a new era.
Mandy Hartman, who has guided the Commodores to 15 consecutive playoff appearances, is excited to start fresh with a roster that features plenty of young players.
“This group is a lot of fun,” Hartman said. “They are young and determined, and they are an extremely athletic group of kids. It's refreshing because it's like clay that you can mold. They have the desire to do well.”
Desire doesn't replace experience, and the Commodores lost a lot of it. Gone to graduation are Megan Manack, Kelsey Dillon and Janell Vasquez, all of whom played pivotal roles in helping Frazier post a 14-2 record in 2011. The play of those three will be difficult for the Commodores to replicate in the immediate future, but that doesn't mean the Commodores can't achieve success.
The strength of this year's team likely will be defense, which features returning senior McKenzie Barch.
“She is a key component to this year's team,” Hartman said. “She is very talented at what she does, and I feel like our defense is solid with her back there.”
Without the services of big hitters like Manack, the Commodores are adopting a defense-first strategy.
“We have to play a smarter game this year,” Hartman said. “Our game plan has to change for us to be able to compete.”
Barch appears ready to help the team make a smooth adjustment to the new style of play.
“I think the defense will be a big part of our team, and I feel like I can step up,” Barch said. “Our defense has to pull us through.”
In terms of offense, look for sophomores Cassidy Guiser and Jamie Muccioli to do the setting. The hitters include freshmen Dyanna Shaporka and Alena Blaszczak, and junior Alexandra Chuboy.
“They are doing a nice job, and I think they will be solid,” Hartman said.
The Commodores, despite their youth, expect to be competitive. However, this season could be a transition period.
“I don't like to say we are inexperienced because I don't want to make excuses,” Hartman said. “The last few years the expectations were so high, so it's nice to shift gears a little bit and see these kids come along.”
According to Barch, seeing the team make strides throughout the season will be rewarding.
“Honestly, I just want to see everybody grow,” Barch said. “I've already seen us come a long way.”
Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-626-3534.