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Norwin, TJ, Serra seek WPIAL volleyball championships

| Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, 10:51 p.m.

Having just claimed WPIAL section titles in girls volleyball, Class AAA Norwin, Class AA Thomas Jefferson and Class A Serra Catholic enter the postseason with high hopes.

They won't need to wait long to start.

Section 1-AAA champion Norwin and Section 2-A champion Serra Catholic resume play with first-round games Wednesday, the Knights facing Section 4-AAA runner-up Oakland Catholic at 7:30 p.m. and the Eagles meeting Section 3-A runner-up Bentworth at 6 p.m. at Bethel Park.

“We were undefeated this year, and we've won the section for a third year in a row. Even with a change in the coaching staff, the girls are playing really, really well,” first-year Serra Catholic coach Keith Trahan said.

Three of Serra Catholic's six seniors — Michele Alfer, Christina Pici and Anna Quattrone — and junior Erin Thomas were the only players with previous varsity experience. The Eagles were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2012 playoffs by Our Lady of Sacred Heart.

“Having only two returning starters, it's really nice to see how this team has meshed,” Trahan said.

Norwin is not seeking a repeat of its performance in the 2012 playoffs. The once-dominant Knights, set to make their second consecutive postseason appearance after a six-year absence, are hoping this time to make it past the first round, where they made an early exit in 2012 with a loss to Pine-Richland.

Norwin, which won 15 WPIAL championships and 12 PIAA crowns from 1974-88, has counted on six seniors — Alexis Boytim, Hannah Cubarney, Hanna Evanchak, Catherine Ferragonio, Brittany Jones and Alexis Petach — to lead the way.

Section 7-AA champion Thomas Jefferson opens Thursday with a first-round home game against Section 3-AA runner-up Kittanning at 7:30 p.m. The Wildcats defeated Section 2-AA third-place team Ambridge, 3-0, in a preliminary-round game Tuesday night.

Thomas Jefferson has won nine section titles in coach Ron Kelly's 12 seasons at the school.

“They've lived up to my expectations this season and have actually done better than I thought they would,” Kelly said of his current team. “We can compete for a WPIAL championship if we play our best.”

Other first-round games Thursday find Section 7-AA runner-up Elizabeth Forward playing Section 1-AA runner-up Beaver at 6 p.m. at Bishop Canevin and Section 7-AA third-place team Yough traveling to Section 3-AA champion Indiana at 7 p.m.

The Cougars advanced by beating Section 5-AA third-place team Charleroi, 3-1, in a preliminary-round game Tuesday.

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dmackall@tribweb.com.

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