Marasco, Barrett, Leehan catalysts for Seton-La Salle boys' volleyball squad
The Seton-La Salle boys' volleyball team wrapped up the first half of section play tied for second place in Section 3-AA.
Seton-La Salle posted a 3-2 record, tied with Thomas Jefferson and two games behind undefeated Keystone Oaks (5-0).
South Park (2-2), Trinity (1-4) and Steel Valley (0-5) rounded out the standings.
“The section is really wide open this year,” Mark Felbinger, Seton-La Salle's veteran head coach, said. “I think any team can beat any other team on a given night.
“TJ, KO and South Park are tough. Steel Valley and Trinity are much improved over last year.”
Two key players for Seton-La Salle are seniors Eric Marasco and Elijah Barrett, who are sharing the captaincy role for the Rebels this season.
Marasaco, an outside hitter, and Barrett, a libero, led Seton to 3-0 victories against Steel Valley and Trinity, and a 3-2 decision against South Park.
“Eric has really been dominant in our wins this season. He has the highest kill percentage on the team, and has a really good jump serve,” Felbinger said. “His defense has dramatically improved, and he has been a great co-captain.
“Elijah has been solid as well. We moved him from outside hitter to libero, a role in which he has done really well. He has always been a great defensive player, and having him in the back row for us has really helped improve the team defense.”
Marasco and Barrett are the only seniors on the team this year.
They have been joined by Dan Leehan, a junior setter who earned a varsity letter last season, and a host of sophomores.
“Dan has performed admirably in his first year as the varsity starting setter,” Felbinger said. “He spent last year setting for several of the current varsity starters, so he is comfortable playing with them.”
The sophomore class is represented by Tereeq Smith, a libero; Justin Girouard, a setter; John Kist, a right-side hitter; Ben Grefenstette, a middle hitter; Dan Jesserer, an outside hitter; Gavin Ennis, an outside hitter/right-side hitter; Nick Pazuchanics, a middle hitter; and Chad Murphy, an outside hitter.
The Highlanders' starting rotation consists of Leehan, at setter; Barrett, at libero; Marasco and Murphy, at outside hitter, Pazuchanics and Grefenstette, at middle hitter; and Girouard and Kist, at right-side hitter.
Seton-La Salle was a senior-laden team in 2012, led libero Pete Smith and setter/right-side hitter Brandon Riley.
They were joined by senior middle hitters Jake Grefenstette, Brennen Heiser and Will French, who also manned the right-side hitter position.
“The team is playing better than I expected we would at the beginning of the season,” Felbinger said. “Graduating so many seniors last year means that we have four sophomore starters, so we are a young team.
“We are still struggling to play consistently, but when we play to our ability, I think we are a competitive team. We are in a playoff spot right now, which was our goal at the beginning of the season with such a young team.”
Seton-La Salle returns to section action Tuesday on the road against Thomas Jefferson, followed by a home match April 25 against Steel Valley.
Trinity, South Park and Keystone Oaks round out the Rebels' section slate.
“I'm hoping that in the back half of the season we become more consistent and more competitive,” Felbinger said. “We would like to play better against the two section teams (Thomas Jefferson, Keystone Oaks) that defeated us.
“Developing the sophomores is a top priority at this point. Our hitting, blocking, setting and team defense has room for improvement, and we are still trying to really click defensively.”
Felbinger is counting on Barrett to provide a defensive spark for the Rebels.
“Moving Elijah to libero should help with our team's defense,” he said.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.