Bishop Canevin volleyball sets sights on WPIAL title
In the final week of the regular season, the Bishop Canevin volleyball team had three games in as many days: Section 6-A showdowns with Avella and Carlynton and a nonsection contest with Class AA's South Fayette.
And while coach Kevin Walters wasn't a fan of the busy week, the Crusaders rolled to three wins and lost just one set.
“Its tough,” Walters said. “It would be nice if the season was two or three weeks longer so you spread the schedule out instead of trying to fit it in. But it is what it is.”
The Section 6-AA wins wrapped up Bishop Canevin's fifth straight section title. Claiming the section crown was the first of a list of accomplishments the squad wanted to achieve this season.
“We came into the season really prepared,” senior Ashley Grimm said. “There were some really good teams in the section this year, but we were able to handle it.”
The Crusaders finished the regular season 19-1 — the loss coming to Hubbad (Ohio) in the early-season Girard Tournament in Ohio. Since then, Bishop Canevin has tore through the competition, winning 19 straight matches and outscoring opponents 56-6.
Grimm leads the team in kills with 183. Sophomore Erin Cunningham has 177, and senior Callie Jacobs has added 117.
Jacobs leads the team in blocks with 44, and senior Mary Hicks has 21. Three players finished the regular season with 19: sophomores Bailey McDonald, Julia Menosky and Cunningham.
Cunningham leads the team in digs with 305, and Grimm has recorded 287. Menosky has 265 digs.
“We have gotten more cohesive with one another,” Hicks said. “The setters and hitters have more chemistry. And our defense has gotten a lot stronger.”
Having eight seniors on the roster has helped the squad's focus. Many of these seniors have been around for two WPIAL title games — 2012 and 2010 — and know the pain of falling short of their goal.
“I think they have really embraced the idea of getting back to the WPIAL title game,” Walter said. “We have talked about it every practice. We wanted to get through the section to get the best seed we can in the playoffs and push through to the championship match.”
Along the way, Walters recorded his 200th win as a coach. He had previous coaching tenures at North Catholic (five years) and Mars (one year).
“I have been blessed with girls who were willing to work hard at all the places I have coached,” Walters said. “They have bought into what I believe you need to do to win volleyball matches.
“I knew about it because of the things you write down and keep track of. I am surprised that anyone else knew about it.”
It might not be the last milestone. If Bishop Canevin has its way, it will be adding a WPIAL Class A title to the trophy case.
“I can't explain how pumped I am to have this chance,” Grimm said. “We want it so bad.”
Bishop Canevin is the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class A playoffs. It will take to the court at 7:30 p.m. today, Thursday, to take on the winner of the preliminary game between Section 5's Jefferson-Morgan (8-4) and Section 1's Springdale (6-6).