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GCC volleyball not letting high ranking get in the way

| Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, 9:12 p.m.
Greensburg Central Catholic's Emma Dickson (11) sets the ball for teammate Ashly Scalise (19) during a game held at Greensburg Central Catholic High School on September 18, 2012, against West Shamokin. Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic's Lauren Nolfi, (back), prepares to return the ball, during a game held at Greensburg Central Catholic High School on September 18, 2012, against West Shamokin. Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review
Kim Stepinsky | For The Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic's Megan Stunja (center) sends the ball over the net during a game held at Greensburg Central Catholic High School on Sept. 18, 2012, against West Shamokin.

The Greensburg Central Catholic volleyball team doesn't discuss its lofty ranking very much.

Unless, of course, coach Heather Meyer senses her team needs a wake-up call.

So when the Centurions struggled to put West Shamokin away in a Sept. 18 match, Meyer let her players know she expected more from the No. 2 team in the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association's Class A poll.

“I try to keep my kids grounded — we don't talk about it much,” she said. “Now, I did use it after last (Tuesday) night's game just because I didn't feel they played to their ability. We sat down and talked about our goals and how we need to play game in, game out, whether we're playing a good team or mediocre team or whatever.”

Greensburg Central Catholic beat West Shamokin, 3-0, that night to run its record to 6-0 on the season, including 5-0 in Section 1-A.

But Meyer said if there's a theme to the season so far, it's that the Centurions don't play consistently and struggle to put lower-level teams away — opinions two of her senior players agree with.

“I think as a team we just need to bring a little bit more intensity to every game,” senior libero Alexa Kacin said. “Sometimes we don't need to beat a team as much as we need to — we need to start putting away teams faster and not take our time with it as we have in previous games.”

Senior Ashley Scalise acknowledged “it can be challenging” to avoid playing down to the level of an opponent that doesn't have the same talent level as Greensburg Central Catholic, but she does think it's possible for the team to correct as it moves forward.

“If we just perform our best every game, this team will be extremely successful,” she said.

The Centurions returned a lot of experience from a team that advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals a season ago, ultimately falling to Bishop Canevin.

In addition, senior Shannon Hurley returned to the lineup after missing the entirety of last season with a knee injury. Hurley leads the team in kills.

“Shannon is a strong component to our team, and I think this year, we all bring something new to the team,” Kacin said.

“So each of us combining everything is really making the team really diverse. We have a ton of talent on the team, and I think this year we do have a lot of confidence, even though we haven't played to the best of our ability yet.”

In Hurley's absence last season, several of the team's players gained experience while filling in. Though Meyer has had to do some lineup maneuvering with Hurley back in, she says depth is a good thing to have.

“We've got 10 girls on the roster, and each one of them is valuable in her own right,” she said. “We do have a couple standout players; however, when I talk to the team, it's a team. I don't believe they can do it without any of them.”

To date, Riverview is the only league opponent to win a game against Greensburg Central Catholic this season, and Meyer expects the Raiders to be the Centurions' biggest challenge inside the section. She also expects to find out more about other Class A contenders at weekend tournaments like the West Shamokin tournament in mid-October.

But Meyer said she's more focused on her own team. The Centurions hope to win WPIAL and PIAA titles this season, and to do that, the team needs to start playing more consistently.

“We haven't had a real chance to all be together for a lengthy period of time,” Meyer said. “I think that as time goes on, they'll get better and better together. You never want them to peak at the beginning of the season.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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