ShareThis Page

Norwin volleyball prepares for tough stretch

Doug Gulasy
| Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Norwin senior Dan Conwell passes the ball during the Knights' match against Penn Hills on April 3, 2014, at Norwin High School.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Norwin Star
Norwin senior Dan Conwell passes the ball during the Knights' match against Penn Hills on April 3, 2014, at Norwin High School.

Jay Grushecky knows the scope of the challenge the Norwin boys volleyball team will face over the next week.

After opening the season 4-0, the Knights prepared to play a stretch of four matches against Plum, Latrobe, North Allegheny and Penn-Trafford — all likely to make the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

Grushecky is more than just looking forward to the four matches.

“I've never been more excited for any volleyball game ever than the next four all together,” said Grushecky, a senior middle hitter. “I think we can do some really good things this year, and that's going to show us what we can do when we're playing playoff teams.”

Norwin began the season by beating nonsection opponent Baldwin and section foes Hempfield, Gateway and Penn Hills, all by 3-0 scores.

While Norwin coach Al Warden said he was happy with the victories, he said the Knights' first four opponents are all rebuilding teams.

“We've looked pretty good against who we've played,” he said. “You can only play (the team) on the other side of the net. What's nice is I've been able to play the lineup. What's bad is I don't know how good some of my decisions are going to be because we haven't played enough good competition yet. I still have some question marks on my starting lineup.”

Early in the season, Norwin is working through its own issues. Grushecky said the team misses too many serves and sometimes struggles passing, but the Knights are improving in those areas.

The team has its strengths, too. Warden said the offense — the fastest one he's run in his time at Norwin — is working efficiently.

“I think the biggest thing is we play very well together as a team,” senior libero Dan Conwell said. “We have six seniors this year, and we've all been playing together for three or four years now. We all are starters, and we all play a substantial amount. We play well together, and we're all pretty good friends. We pick each other up when we need it.”

Although Norwin's early dual match schedule included primarily rebuilding teams, the Knights saw some strong opponents in their host tournament and the Derry Tournament last month. The team won its own tournament and went 10-1 at Derry, beating perennial playoff teams Derry, Fox Chapel, North Allegheny and Penn-Trafford early in the day before losing a rematch against Penn-Trafford in the quarterfinals.

“When it came time to play, we weren't ready to play and we got kicked out of the tournament,” Warden said. “Fox Chapel ended up winning that. But we played well for the day.”

“I think it teaches us a lesson that we can't take any game (for granted),” Grushecky said of the loss to Penn-Trafford. “We have to go out and score points no matter who we're playing, regardless of if we're playing Gateway or North Allegheny. We've got to go and have the same intensity and drive to win the game and put points on the board.”

Norwin began its difficult stretch by traveling to Plum on Tuesday. The match ended past the deadline for this week's edition. The Knights will host Latrobe at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and North Allegheny at 7:30 p.m. next Monday before traveling to Penn-Trafford next Tuesday.

The players are looking forward to testing themselves in the nonsection match against North Allegheny, winner of seven straight WPIAL titles. They think the WPIAL is more wide open this season than in previous years.

“North Allegheny was untouchable last year, no matter what anyone threw at them,” Grushecky said. “But this year, as we saw at the Derry tournament, they're not unbeatable. I think that gives us a lot of hope.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.