ShareThis Page

Baldwin volleyball unbeaten in 1st half of section play

| Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Baldwin girls volleyball coach Chris Kelly anticipated there would be a learning curve for players on this year's team.

Kelly noted there were more question marks surrounding the 2017 team than in any of his three previous seasons at Baldwin.

“But it's a challenge we accept and embrace,” he said. “We're not afraid of it. We're up for it.”

Indeed, the Baldwin girls not only accepted and embraced it, they've overpowered it.

The Highlanders wrapped up the first half of section play unbeaten and in first place in Section 4-AAAA, ahead of Upper St. Clair, Peters Township, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon and Moon.

“I am so proud of this team,” Kelly said. “There was no one, outside of our players, that thought we'd be a good team this season. We talked a lot about that in the preseason. The expectations of others didn't mean much to us. From the beginning, we felt that we would be able to compete.

“As in previous seasons, our strength can be found in our ball control. We pass well, serve tough and play really good defense. So far this season, every girl has played in at least one match. This has been a team effort. I regularly play nine or 10 girls per match, and the personnel varies from game to game.”

Kelly welcomed back 10 returning letterwinners, including starters Brianna Phillips, a 5-foot-9 senior middle blocker; Allison Murray, a 5-10 sophomore middle blocker; and Mia Hampsay, a 5-7 sophomore setter. Phillips is a third-year varsity player who also has played club volleyball for three years for the Pittsburgh Point.

Other returning letterwinners include seniors Alana Price (setter) and Erica Blanner (outside hitter); sophomore Ally Schenk (middle blocker); and senior defensive specialists Marissa Meis, Brenna Green, Emilia Zandier and Megan Moskiewski.

Rounding out the squad are five juniors — Kerri Herron (DS), Rachel Stofanak (S/RS), Sydney Milan (OH/RS), Flannery Larson (MB) and McKenzie Meis (DS) — and two sophomores — Riley Lenard (OH/RS) and Anna Baloh (OH).

Baldwin won section championships in 2014 and '15 and placed third in section play in last season. The Highlanders have enjoyed a three-year playoff run, winning WPIAL titles in 2014 and '15 with a combined record of 43-2, then finishing as a WPIAL finalist in 2016. They also advanced twice to the PIAA semifinal round, and once to the quarterfinals.

“The second half of the season will be more difficult than the first,” Kelly said. “Our goal every night is to work harder than the other team. We'll continue trying to do that.

“Going forward, we'll continue to work on our ball control and our offense. Our offense is steadily improving but not where we want it yet.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.