Franklin Regional volleyball team ready to take steps forward
After coming up empty in section play the last two seasons, this year's Franklin Regional volleyball team has its sights set on moving up in the league.
The Panthers are dealing with roster turnover — some expected and some unexpected — but head coach Matt Heyman has seen good things from his squad in the preseason.
“We had a good camp and played in a good league over the summer,” Heyman said. “They got progressively better, all summer long.
“We have had our ups and downs already. One of our returning players (Angela Nied) is doing an exchange program in Norway, and another (Gillian Kane) tore her ACL, so we turned over more players than we thought.”
On the court, Franklin Regional will be led by senior middle hitter Angela Klocek, along with fellow seniors Kiley Carlson and Makayla Kishlock as outside hitters.
The team also has a number of position battles to be settled.
Juniors Cate Kasun and Mady Heil are both working at the setter position, while on the right side, Jazmyn Charles and Andrea Reuther have both had strong camps.
The team also has another senior middle hitter, Jaime Howatneck, and two underclassmen behind Klocek, junior Melissa Gustafson and sophomore Kelly Haley.
In the defensive positions, junior Muriel Pokol and sophomore Amy Alfieri both are working with the varsity group, while two more juniors, Monica Merante and Meredith Kulak, add depth at outside hitter.
“All these girls are really hungry to be in the lineup, so our practices have been intense,” Heyman said. “I see a lot of improvement because no one is comfortable with their position.
The Panthers hope to get off to a good start from day one, which will be Saturday, when Franklin Regional hosts its season-opening tournament.
Hollidaysburg, Penn Hills, Hampton, Frazier, Gateway, Somerset and Montour will provide the opposition at the event, which begins at 9 a.m.
“We've taken on the Olympic team's motto of being ‘perpetually unsatisfied,'” Heyman said.
“Our last two seasons have been without a section win, but I feel like we're going to turn that around. No one is expecting much from us, but we're not going to be a rollover game by any stretch.”