Perko, Ayers join Baldwin volleyball lineup this season
Head coach Eric Falcione greeted five returning starters to the Baldwin boys' varsity volleyball program this year.
Ben Scherz (libero), Jeff Remlinger (right-side hitter), Greg Stofanak (outside hitter), Max Schaefer (middle blocker) and Fitz Doyle (setter) all started for the Highlanders last season, and have bolstered the starting lineup in 2013.
All five are seniors.
“We have a pretty large senior class. Actually, it's the largest we have had at Baldwin,” Falcione said. “For the most part, many of the seniors are interchangeable. This makes for some very good scrimmages during practice where they are very competitive.”
Two new players in the Highlanders' starting lineup are junior outside hitter Shane Perko, and senior middle blocker Stefan Ayers, who sat out the 2012 season with an injury.
“Both are good athletes who are going to be tough to defend this season,” Falcione said.
Other seniors are right-side hitter Paul Clinton, right-side hitter/middle blocker Mark Chajkowski, outside hitter Mason Flanigan, outside hitter Marshall Hartman, defensive specialist Chris Hirsh and middle blocker Mike McCormick.
Nick Jugovic is a junior libero for the Highlanders.
“This season, it will require a combined effort; we don't have an actual go-to guy,” Falcione said. “Our success will come from an overall consistent play.”
Three newcomers to keep an eye on are sophomores Alex Keiser and Alexx Suchy, at the setter position; and Patrick Stofanak, at middle blocker.
“Alex Keiser has already started varsity matches this year. He is getting better every week as a setter and a hitter,” Falcione said. “Patrick Stofanak is competing with the two senior middles for their spot. He is becoming more comfortable and aggressive at the position every week.
“Alexx Suchy has come off the bench to spark the team. He leads the team in aces.”
Top freshman prospects include middle blocker Jeff Wallander, setter/libero Peter Wright and middle blocker/outside hitter Terrence Ahlin.
“All three freshmen have tremendous potential,” Falcione said. “They are just what the doctor ordered for us this season — athletes that want to win.”
Baldwin is a member of Section 1 in the Class AAA division, along with Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Central Catholic, Moon, Peters Township and Upper St. Clair.
At the start of this week, the section standings were as follows:
• Bethel Park (3-0)
• Baldwin (2-1)
• Peters Township (2-1)
• Upper St. Clair (2-1)
• Canon-McMillan (1-2)
• Moon (0-3)
• Central Catholic (1-3)
The Highlanders opened the season by defeating Moon, 3-2, and Canon-McMillan, 3-0, before losing to Peters Township, 3-0.
Falcione expects his squad to remain in the fight for a playoff berth all year. The Highlanders are slated to visit Central Catholic tonight, Thursday.
“Our section is probably the strongest it's been in years,” Falcione said. “The team that comes out on top will truly deserve it.
“Peters Township, USC and Bethel Park are all very strong. Any one of them could win the section and beat each other on any given night. Central Catholic is always a contender, and Canon-Mac and Moon are improved. That is what I expect from a section that is considered one of the best in the WPIAL.”
Baldwin will host Bethel Park on April 16 in a key section match.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or email@example.com.