Kittanning volleyball sets sights on postseason success
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It has been the same script in recent years for Kittanning girls volleyball: Reach the playoffs, win a preliminary-round game, lose to a top-four seed in the first round.
The Wildcats aim to break that pattern this season by advancing farther in the WPIAL playoffs, and the easiest way for them to reach that goal will be to avoid the preliminary round with a strong regular season in Section 3-AA.
Defending section champ Indiana is expected to be the top team again, but after coming close last year, Kittanning hopes this is the year it can move out of second place.
“Hopefully, we're contenders again for the section title. We went five (sets) with Indiana last year, so it would be nice to be competitive again,” Kittanning coach Kara Grafton said. “Once we can clear that hurdle, other avenues will open up, and we won't play a WPIAL champ or a state champ in the first round.”
The Wildcats are led by a trio of senior players — outside hitter Terra Schall, outside hitter Kirsten Wolfe and middle hitter Megan Cloak — and after having been with the team during its run of playoff appearances, they hope their senior year yields their deepest playoff run.
“We have to make the playoffs before we can win those games, but it is frustrating to play the top team right after the preliminary round,” Schall said. “We still have to focus on making the playoffs and winning (section) games first, but going farther is definitely our goal.”
Junior Taylor Wright will run the Kittanning offense from her setter position, and fellow junior Maggie McCanna brings two years of varsity experience as a defensive specialist to the lineup. Kittanning also will have a deep bench to draw upon in its quest for a fifth straight playoff appearance.
“There have been a lot of girls stepping up,” Grafton said. “They've been working hard in the summer and playing a lot. All the girls have been very dedicated, so I'm positive going into the season.”
As the case has been under Grafton, Kittanning's strongest suit appears to be its defense. The coach said the team's blocking and positioning on the court has been good ahead of its first regular-season action Saturday at the Northern Cambria Tournament.
Though the team doesn't start section play until Sept. 10, its second section match on Sept. 12 is its home meeting with Indiana, which has the Wildcats working hard to be ready and entering that match with the right mindset.
“We're working hard on keeping every ball up, and we're getting a lot better at communicating. We're also doing better at placing the ball, which our coach really emphasizes,” Schall said.
“It will definitely be better this weekend playing than practicing. There's nothing better to get you ready than those game situations. (Indiana) is a good team, so we'll have to play our best when we play them.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Gateway girls volleyball gunning for playoff spot under new head coach
- Connellsville volleyball team looks to build on strong season
- Penn-Trafford volleyball sets sights high
- Height, skill trademarks for Plum girls volleyball squad in 2014