Two-setter approach working for Norwin volleyball team
When Norwin volleyball coach Al Warden decided to use a two-setter offense this season, he just wanted to give the Knights' attack a different look.
He didn't know how valuable the experience for the second setter, freshman Nick Nguyen, would become.
The Knights (8-2) lost senior setter Mitch Farabaugh to a high-ankle sprain during a 3-2 loss to Penn-Trafford on April 16, but the team responded by winning section matches last week against Hempfield and Gateway and taking home the championship at the Plum Invitational over the weekend.
With Farabaugh set to return from the injury soon — possibly as early as this week — Warden likes where the team is headed.
“We're definitely in the postseason,” Warden said. “But these guys are definitely going to be shooting for (more). We need to kind of run the table here, and that way we can at least share the section and possibly get a higher seed.”
Warden said he had never used a two-setter approach before this season, instead usually going with a more traditional one-setter approach. Farabaugh, one of the Knights' captains, led the one-setter attack to a runner-up finish in the WPIAL and a third-place finish in the PIAA last season.
The coach said going to the new offense was “a little strange,” but he wanted the Knights to have more offense.
“I think (other coaches) thought I was kind of crazy,” he said. “But from the looks of it, it's worked out pretty well. I just hope we can go back to it in a week or two.”
The new attack allows Farabaugh to set half the time and hit the other half of the time.
“I really like hitting, but this year our passing is not there as (it was) last year,” Farabaugh said. “This kind of helps us out, because we always have three options to go to.”
Warden said the two-setter approach gives his team a powerful right-side attack. Senior Nick Idele leads a powerful crop of hitters that also includes junior Kevin Zabelski and Farabaugh on the right side.
“If we have ball control, we have been good,” Warden said. “When we don't have ball control, we have not been very good.
“And that's how P-T beat us — we got Nick Idele in the front row at 12-9 (in the fifth set), and I thought, ‘We're going to win this.' Then our ball control went bad, we couldn't get the ball to where we wanted to and they took advantage of it.”
In addition to improving their passing, Farabaugh and Idele said the Knights need to become more intense on the court and start celebrating more.
“Last year, we were a pretty rowdy bunch,” Farabaugh said. “This year we are a very, very quiet team compared to last year.”
With three section matches remaining — Thursday at Plum, next Tuesday against Latrobe and May 9 at Penn-Trafford — the Knights believe they have the potential to compete for the WPIAL championship against favorite North Allegheny and a crowded pool of other contenders.
“We've got talent,” Idele said. “We've got tons of younger kids stepping up this year. I think we can definitely be a top seed in the playoffs this year.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or via Twitter@dgulasy_Trib.