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Gateway volleyball squad hopes to build on positives for next season

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Michael Love | The Times Express
Sophomore Lauren Bolen is one of several starters or key reserves who will form the core of the 2014 Gateway varsity girls volleyball team.

Gateway and McKeesport faced each other last Thursday at the Furrie Sports Complex in a battle for fourth place in Section 4-AAA.

When it was all said and done, the Gators found themselves on the short end of a 3-1 result.

McKeesport finished fourth with a 5-7 section record, while Gateway ended its campaign at 4-8.

The Gators had won the first meeting with the Tigers, 3-1.

“McKeesport did improve from the first time we played them,” Gateway head coach Jay Wu said.

“They minimized their passing errors, and it starts with the pass. If you can pull off the pass, the rest will fall into place.”

McKeesport won the first game, 25-22, and Gateway responded with a 25-21 win in game two.

The Tigers took game three, 25-14, and closed out the match with a 25-22 triumph in game four.

“We came out and made some good plays and then would make a mistake and let it affect us for a couple points in a row,” Wu said.

The game was the final one for seniors Gabi Davis (setter), Kayge Thomson (libero) and Rachel Beck (defensive specialist).

“It was tough, because the seniors wanted to get the win, and the other players wanted to win for the seniors,” Wu said.

Davis and Thompson were consistent starters this season.

“Kayge became a really good player,” Wu said.

“She started as a setter and moved to defensive specialist. She loves the game and puts her heart into it.

“Gabi improved a lot. She was rough around the edges when she started. She smoothed things out. She settled into her role and became a good leader.”

Beck returned to the team as a junior last year after not playing volleyball for Gateway as a freshman or sophomore.

“For Rachel, it's tough when you step away for any amount of time and then get back into it. She battled and worked hard. We were glad to have her back.”

Gateway started out 1-4 in section before winning three of its next four section matches.

It suffered a three-game losing skid to close out the campaign, including setbacks to section champion Oakland Catholic and playoff-bound Plum.

“We had some growing pains, and we expected it,” Wu said.

“The younger girls got a lot of experience and realize what they need to do to get better. Hopefully, we can build on the good things from the season.”

Wu said he will rely on a core of returning players such as juniors Julia Bauccio, Janette Kim and Emily Perry and sophomores Lauren Bolen, Nicole Kocis, Sydney Stevens and Angela Toner.

“Having the experience back will be huge,” Wu said. “They got the butterflies out this year, and next year will be about playing the game. I am looking forward to it.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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