Carlynton volleyball ready for first playoffs appearance
The WPIAL Class A volleyball playoffs will be a new experience for the Carlynton — for the players and the coach.
The postseason appearance will be the first in program history. And outside of a handful of basketball players who reached the playoffs last season, none of the athletes has had a taste of postseason action.
“Playoffs is really a new experience for most of the team,” seventh-year coach Emily Tupi said. “We hope to go in on an upswing.”
Tupi — who also coaches the middle school programs — said she expected this team to be special when she saw the players in seventh and eighth grade.
“I wouldn't say it is unbelievable, but I do think it is hard for some of us to wrap our minds around what we have done,” Tupi said. “It is incredible. It is what I have wanted since I started at Carlynton. It is really amazing how hard the girls have worked to get here.”
The 2013 squad is led by a senior group of six players — Deaira Bassett, Emily Burch, McKenna Gamble, Kelly Jones, Hannah Murray and Kylie Waugh. With that leadership, the team has been able to use the athletic prowess and physical tools of junior Connor Richardson (5-foot-10), Jordan Melko (5-9) and Jesicca Olkosky (5-7).
“I knew this team would be good,” Tupi said. “This group has worked harder. That is the difference between them and some of the other girls that came through the program. They have bought into it.”
Despite a squad full of upperclassmen, the lack of playoffs experience could be a factor for the Cougars. But Tupi said she hopes to handle the situation like a regular-season tournament — a scenario in which Carlynton has found success.
“You play pool play at those tournament, and you need to be the best to move on,” Tupi said. “These girls know it is win or go home. And they don't want to go home.”
The Cougars played Frazier — the Section 5-A champion — Wednesday. Results were unavailable at press time.