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Canevin volleyball setting its sights on WPIAL championship

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item
Bishop Canevin sophomore Bailey McDonald sets the ball for a teammate during the Crusaders 3-1 win over Bentworth on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, at Bishop Canevin
Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item
Bishop Canevin sophomore Erin Cunningham spikes the ball during the Crusaders 3-1 win over Bentworth on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, at Bishop Canevin.
Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item
Bishop Canevin sophomores Julia Menosky (left) and Erin Cunningham go for a block during the Crusaders 3-1 win over Bentworth on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, at Bishop Canevin.

The run the Bishop Canevin girls volleyball team has been on is one most teams dream of.

The Crusaders have reached two of the last three WPIAL Class A title games – in 2010 and 2012 – not to mention an appearance in the semifinals in 2011 and three Section 6-A titles over the span.

While the success will leave a lasting legacy on the program, the seniors on the 2013 team know it is their last chance to grab their ultimate goal – a WPIAL title.

“We want to win our section, we want to go to states and we want to win the WPIAL title,” senior captain Callie Jacobs said. “We want to do those things every year. We just want to go further now.”

Doing so will make a little easier thanks to an experienced squad. The team has eight seniors and is led by all-WPIAL outside hitter Ashley Grimm. Other veteran players include outside hitter Rachel Shaw, libero Sam Kelsch, defensive specialist Morgan Reisz, middle hitter Allison Killen, setter Katie Gestiehr, middle blocker Mary Hicks and middle hitter Jacobs.

The team also can rely on four juniors with right side specialist Katy Correa, outside hitter Maggie Frost, defensive specialist Rachel Rittelmann and opposite hitter/right side hitter Sarah Temple.

Grimm, Jacobs and Kelsch are the team's captains.

“I wouldn't say it is the most experienced team I have had since I have been here,” said coach Kevin Walters, who is in his seventh season. “But I did tell the girls a couple of weeks ago they are maybe the most talented team. We have always had good volleyball players at the school but player for the player, this squad has the deepest talent.”

The team started its trek for a fifth straight section title with a 3-1 win over Bentworth last week. The Crusaders jumped out to a 14-10 lead in the first set but the Bearcats rallied to win the frame 25-22.

Bishop Canevin had no troubles the rest of the way, winning 25-9, 25-17 and 25-6 in the next three sets.

“Bentworth came in and played amazing,” Grimm said. “They wanted the win so bad. But we came together and wanted it more.”

The win moved Bishop Canevin to 3-1 on the year as it also defeated Beth Center, 3-0, last week. The Crusaders started their season at the Girard Tournament in Ohio. The squad fell to Hubbard, 2-0, before defeating host-team Girard, 2-1.

“It gives us a chance to see team we would never see otherside,” Walters said. “We play two teams from Class AAA. It gives us a chance to play with no worrys of what the other teams in the area knowing what we do and don't do. It is a more relaxed atmosphere.”

Playing against larger competition isn't something Bishop Canevin runs from.

The team has Class AAA programs Chartiers Valley, Montour and Obama Academy as well as Class AA's Knoch and South Fayette.

Playing the bigger programs will allow the team to fix its flaws as it tries to reach a second straight WPIAL title game.

"We want a championship,” Grimm said. “Being to the title game twice already and not winning a title has been tough. We all know what we want.”

Bishop Canevin returns to the court tonight, Thursday, when it travels to Fort Cherry for a 7:30 p.m. start.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or 412-388-5813.

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