Strong senior class enhances outlook for Lady Rebels
Kevin Hummert is in his second year as coach of the Seton-La Salle girls' volleyball team.
He is much more at ease with the transition after guiding the Lady Rebels to a second-place finish in section play and sixth-place finish in the WPIAL Class AA division a year ago.
“The success we experienced our first year (together) will be great motivation for the girls this season,” Hummert said. “The girls went from being a Single-A team in 2011 that finished third in their section to being moved up to Double-A and finishing one set from qualifying for states.”
A key reason for Hummert's comfort zone being so high is the return of eight girls who were part of the team's 11-player starting rotation last year.
“Most of the (starting) core returns. We're looking forward to the season,” Hummert said.
Seton-La Salle's roster is dominated by seniors, led by middle hitter Brianne Colligan, outside hitters Tia and Toni Torchia, defensive specialist/setter Shelby Williams and defensive specialists/liberos Lindsey Farley and Juliana Ross.
“They are the core of this team and a wonderful group of ladies to work with from a coaching standpoint,” Hummert said. “Each one brings a set of skills that will be important to our success. If we as a program are to reach our goals this season, each one of them will have to perform at a high level.”
Three members of the Lady Rebels' junior class are looking to make significant contributions this year. They are middle hitter Morgan Henderson, middle/right side Laura Nath and defensive specialist/setter Sommer Waskiewicz.
“Our junior hitters, Morgan and Laura, should be in a position to make our offense more difficult to defend,” Hummert said. “We (also) have a few sophomores that could make our team more dynamic.”
The top sophomore prospects at this time are middle hitter Nicole Colligan and setter Michelle Sanders.
“We will have three juniors and two sophomores as part of our varsity rotation, most likely, and each will need to continue to show improvement,” Hummert said. “My belief is that the underclassmen hold the key to our team playing into November.
“To have a successful season, we need to stay healthy and continue to improve in every facet of the game on a daily basis and be at our best at the end of the season,” he said. “I'm hoping that serve-receive and serving will become our strengths because that is where I believe games are won, but I also like our attacking and blocking ability.”
Last week, the Lady Rebels participated in a highly acclaimed team camp at Ft. LeBeouf in Waterford, Pa. in preparation for the 2013 campaign.
“I thought the camp was a great experience for our team,” Hummert said. “We demonstrated that we could compete with some of the top teams and top players in the state, but it also served as a great bonding experience, which might be just as beneficial. I think the girls and I will be a little more comfortable with each other since we have a year under our belts together. That is another reason I wanted to go to this camp because we got to spend a significant amount of time off the court with each other.”
Teams at the camp included defending Class AA state champion Fort LeBeouf, defending Class A state champion Clarion, Conneaut, Indiana, Erie McDowell, Corry, Meadville, Cochranton and Seton-La Salle.
“I think our serve and serve-receive were solid for this early in the season,” Hummert said. “Every other major skill area such as setting, attacking, blocking and defense showed potential but was very inconsistent, but that is to be expected this early in the season.”
Hummert predicted South Fayette, South Park and Keystone Oaks will provide the biggest challenges for his team in section play in 2013.
The Lady Rebels host South Fayette in their section opener Sept. 10.
“Our section did well in the Double-A playoffs (last) season, placing two teams in the final eight, which only one other section did,” Hummert said. “(That) demonstrates that on a nightly basis any of the top four teams could win.”
Seton-La Salle faces a rigorous nonsection schedule, as well.
The Lady Rebels will meet Thomas Jefferson, Brownsville, Central Valley, Beaver, Avonworth, Freeport, Peters Township and Quaker Valley and plan to participate in tournaments at South Fayette and Elizabeth Forward.
“We will always set our goals high, so this season we are striving for a section championship and a place in the state tournament,” Hummert said. “That entails a great work ethic every time we step on the floor, and staying healthy.”
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.