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Greensburg Salem volleyball fighting until the end

| Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Being coach at Greensburg Salem has been everything Kristin Dinkel has imagined and then some.

“I think it's more emotional than I thought it would be,” Dinkel said.

In her first year in the position at her alma mater, Dinkel's Golden Lions volleyball squad has compiled a record of 3-7 overall and 2-5 in Section 3-AA, but the final tally hasn't shown the improvement Dinkel has witnessed since taking over in August.

“Their work ethic is unbelievable. I've definitely seen a lot of progress with them,” Dinkel said. “Unfortunately for them, it's not being shown in the record. They have a lot of fight and a lot of drive.”

Dinkel points to the 3-2 victory over Latrobe Sept. 23 as a display of the grit and determination Greensburg Salem has shown all season.

“The girls never gave up. They dug down deep and did everything they could,” Dinkel said.

“Their energy was high. Their emotion was high. Everyone gave everything they could. It was one of the most exciting matches we ever played.”

The Golden Lions had to stomach the injuries of sophomore outside hitter Julia Howard (ankle) and senior middle hitter Anna George (concussion), who were lost for the season early.

“I think that brought the girls down a little bit,” Dinkel admits. “They seem to have bounced back.”

Some players responsible for the fight the team has displayed are senior middle hitters Kylie McSwaney and Jenna Daniels and junior setter Liz Daniels, who set the standard for the rest of the team.

“They have stepped up their game, which in turn has really helped our team step up our game,” Dinkel said. “They're constantly questioning and wanting to know. Because of that, I really think our game has changed.”

It's that type of attitude and mindset that Dinkel and staff have been trying to achieve since taking over the once-proud program. Dinkel said when she first took the job, losing was accepted. That needed to change.

“It was very unfortunate and sad,” Dinkel said. “We're trying to get in their head that you can't play to not lose.”

With three section games remaining against Kittanning, Ford City and Derry, Dinkel's focus is finishing on a positive note while continuing to change the culture.

“The way that they fight back, I think we can possibly beat these teams coming up,” Dinkel said. “Play to win. Play to have fun, but play to win.”

Justin Criado is a freelance writer.

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