ShareThis Page

Thomas Jefferson volleyball looks strong thanks to a wealth of talent

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The 2013 season could be an exceptional one for the Thomas Jefferson girls' varsity volleyball team.

Head coach Ron Kelly welcomed nine letterwinners back from last year's squad, including seven starters.

Returning starters this year consist of outside hitters Jessica Albrecht and Lexi German; middle hitters Renee Miller and Rachel Stover; Mariah Schrum, at the setter position; and back-row specialist Katheryn Rotthoff. All are seniors except Stover, who is a junior.

Also joining the mix for the Lady Jaguars are returning letterwinners Allie Yurkovich, a junior libero, and Lauren Wainauskis, a senior outside hitter.

German, Miller, Stover and Yurkovich were honored as Section 7-AA all-star selections in 2012.

“I am very optimistic about this season.We have a strong core of returning starters, plus a nice addition of some young players,” Kelly said. “This team could be special. Our hitting and blocking should make us very strong at the net. We also have some talented defensive players.”

Three other junior players looking to help out in 2013 include right-side hitter Taylor Bonds, middle hitter Gracie Duda and back-row specialist/outside hitter Megan Fitzgerald.

Top sophomore prospects on the team include Megan Fitzgerald and Bailey Veith, both at the setter position; Natalie Miller, a back-row specialist; Kayla Smith, a middle hitter.

“With many returning starters, I thought it would be easy making a new lineup,” Kelly said, “but with the emergence of some young players we still have a couple of competitions going on.”

Along with establishing lineup rotations, the Lady Jaguars have been working diligently on their serving and consistency in preseason practices.

Those are two of the keys to a potential successful season for the TJ girls.

Kelly said, “Our first ball needs to be strong. On defense, we need to serve with a purpose and at a high success rate. Serve-receive is the most important skill; we need to be more consistent. This will dictate our offense and what we can do.”

Thomas Jefferson's veteran head coach believes rival Elizabeth Forward will provide the sternest test in section play for the Lady Jaguars.

“Like the past couple years, I believe Elizabeth Forward and (Thomas Jefferson) will be competing for the section title,” Kelly said. “West Mifflin improved a lot last year, and Yough was young so I expect them to be very competitive this year.

“If we play up to our abilities and continue to improve, I think we will be a very competitive team. We scrimmaged five playoff teams from last year and held our own. I think we know what we can do; just being able to execute day in and out will be the difference.”

Thomas Jefferson will open its section schedule Sept. 5 at home against Southmoreland, and will travel to Belle Vernon on Sept. 10.

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.