Quaker Valley volleyball takes the next step

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

One round at a time.

That's how the Quaker Valley girls volleyball team has been earning both respect and experience in the WPIAL playoffs in recent years.

Quaker Valley's season came to an end last week with a 3-0 loss to Freeport in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs. The Quakers finished the season with a record of 11-5, but found themselves competing in postseason play for one round longer than they did in 2012.

“We put up a good fight against a good team in Freeport,” Quaker Valley coach Mike Vavrek said. “We went into a hostile environment and were a little overmatched.

“But we didn't give up. We made them earn it.”

The Quakers earned the right to take on Freeport by virtue of a 3-2 triumph over Derry in a preliminary-round matchup, which was another stepping stone for Vavrek's squad.

“It was a hard-fought match,” Vavrek said of his team's battle with Derry. “We finally won a five-game match.”

Quaker Valley had dropped both of its five-game efforts during the regular season.

Against Freeport, Quaker Valley was paced by an eight-kill effort by Alyssa Bartling and six kills from Jade Kost, the team's senior captains and starting outside hitters.

Freeport's three-set victory came by scores of 25-18, 25-11 and 25-17, but Bartling, Kost and fellow senior Sydney Lane — as they had all season — fought hard to keep the Quakers alive.

“They're very good leaders,” Vavrek said of his seniors. “The other girls looked up to them.

“They were constantly picking us up. They're going to be missed next year.”

Bartling notched 59 serving aces on the season to lead Quaker Valley. Kost was second on the team in aces with 49.

With the departure of a trio of talented seniors, Vavrek is considering a move to a 6-2 alignment with two hitters on the right side.

“(The 6-2 alignment) will allow us to generate more offense,” Vavrek said.

Whether or not Vavrek alters his approach next season will depend greatly on the development of the young players that are coming up through the Quaker Valley system.

Juniors Michaela Sobecki, Kathryn Wroblewski, Ashlee Bacvinskas, Hayley Rohrbach and Emma Fortuna and sophomores Ayonna Martin, Miasha Beck, Hannah Kley and Emily Pilewicz will be among the key players on next year's team.

Sobecki was the team leader in kills this season with 131. Wroblewski paced the Quakers in both kills (92) and blocks (25). Bacvinskas racked up a team-high 360 assists on the year.

Freshman Emily Truchan will also be in the running for varsity playing time next season, according to Vavrek.

“We need to get these young girls more involved,” Vavrek said. “They need to step up and be varsity players.”

If Vavrek gets the right players and the right system in place, the Quakers could find themselves making an even deeper postseason run in 2014.

“Two years ago, we made the playoffs with a bunch of sophomores starting,” Vavrek said. “They got to experience playoff volleyball a little bit, gain some confidence and some big-time experience.

“Now we have a chance to take the next step.”

Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.

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