Riverview volleyball peaking at the right time

| Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, 11:59 p.m.

After a somewhat sluggish morning match, Riverview's girls volleyball team woke up in the afternoon to avenge a loss to Indiana last Saturday at the West Shamokin Tournament.

And with that win came a quiet confidence and inner belief that the Raiders could be primed for a postseason run.

“We had this moment of brilliance when we beat Indiana after they beat us soundly earlier,” Riverview coach DeAnn Sloan said. “All of the sudden, things started clicking that we struggled with before.

“If we come out like that (in the playoffs), who knows?”

The WPIAL will announce playoff pairings Monday. Riverview (12-3) could be the team no one is talking about in Class A.

A former water polo player at Bucknell, Sloan, 32, moved to the Pittsburgh area from Los Angeles in 2004. She began as a junior high volleyball coach at Riverview before taking over as head coach three years ago.

This is the season she knew could be special.

Riverview tied perennial section power West Shamokin for second place in Section 1-A, splitting its season series with the Wolves.

“We have really improved on our passing this year,” senior standout Arden Fisher said. “It's been one of the stronger aspects of the team. We have some dominant hitters this year, and we're working well together.”

Fisher, a Robert Morris recruit, is an aggressive outside hitter who has put together two 30-plus-kill matches this season.

Fisher posted 34 kills against Leechburg. The equivalent to that performance in another sport, say basketball?

“It would be like scoring all the points,” Sloan said. “It's the equivalent of winning a match-and-a-half on her own.”

As dominant as Fisher has been, she's had plenty of help.

Senior Renee Ault has blossomed in her new role, moving from middle to outside hitter.

“It was a big switch,” Sloan said. “But it gives her more sets and allows her to be on defense more.”

Fisher, Ault and senior Marissa Katic are the spikers.

Libero Rachael Suchevich and sophomore Hannah Larkin are among the team's pin point passers. Senior Alison Hodges had 50 assists against Kittanning. Hodges has a team-best 340 assists.

Fisher has a remarkable 258 kills (17.2 per game) and 48 aces.

Larkin is one of two starters playing two fall sports. She and freshman defensive specialist Nikki Polens also are on the soccer team.

“The one thing that has helped this team is that we've had players step up and take balls without saying, ‘Is that mine?' ” Sloan said.

Fisher agrees that Riverview should not be taken for granted.

“If we're all on and play our games,” she said, “we definitely can take a stronger team.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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