West Shamokin girls volleyball keeps pace for section title
West Shamokin's most successful program has a shot to add another year to its section title banner.
With three matches to play, the Wolves' girls volleyball team controls its own path to the Section 1-AA title after recording another 3-0 win at St. Joseph on Thursday.
West Shamokin (8-1, 8-1) pulled into a tie for the section lead last week by avenging an early-season loss against Greensburg Central Catholic. The 3-0 win over the Centurions left the two teams even in the standings, and if both can avoid a pitfall over the final two weeks of the season, they will share the title.
A section crown would be the first since 2009 and just the second in the past 10 years for West Shamokin, which might seem surprising given the team's WPIAL title and multiple PIAA tournament appearances during that time.
But frequently being paired in a section with perennial powers Elderton, Freeport or GCC has often kept them from topping their regular-season group.
“Winning the section would be pretty significant for our seniors because none of them have won a section title at West Shamokin,” Wolves coach Dan Spencer said. “For the girls we have out there, it would be a nice way to go out, and anything after would make it a lot nicer.”
Last season was similar to many others for the Wolves, whon finished behind GCC in the section, yet still reached the WPIAL semifinals and the PIAA tournament. That success without a title has the players eager to finish this year on top.
“It would definitely be awesome to do it. It's always been our goal to win (the section),” senior libero Kristen Templeton said. “Going to states last year and not getting it, that was upsetting, so we wanted to go in as seniors this year to try and bring it home.”
The team made strides to go from a 3-0 loss to GCC to a win three weeks later by the same score, as the potential the Wolves have shown during the season came together with a solid all-around performance.
“We matched up well against (GCC),” Spencer said. “You're not going to stop (GCC middle hitter Leah) Bisignani; she's the best middle I've seen in Class A in quite some time. But we did a real great job blocking against the two outsides, which frustrated them a little, and then we hit the ball well.”
“We have our days when we're really enthusiastic, and others where it's a struggle,” Templeton said. “But we've definitely gotten a lot better since the start of the season. We have to get ourselves in the right mood to play, and we were against (GCC).”
It won't be all smooth sailing for the Wolves, however. The team played against St. Joseph without some of its seniors for disciplinary reasons, but West Shamokin's younger players stepped up.
Setter Sierra Dailey, opposite Alyssa Peters, outside hitter Stephanie Schrecengost and middle hitter Carmen Riggle all had three or more kills, and middle hitter Sydney Prugh had three aces. All five are sophomores, while sophomore defensive specialist Kaitlyn Steele and some Wolves freshmen also played a role.
“We have a lot of talent and a lot of people that want to get out there, so I guess it helps that more of them are (getting playing time),” Templeton said.