Geibel girls volleyball team sets lofty goals

| Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, 7:03 p.m.

Geibel girls volleyball coach Rick Watkins guided the Gators to WPIAL Class A titles in 2005 and '06, so he knows the traits of a winning team.

Watkins said one of those traits is easily visible in this team.

“We're being more competitive this year than what we have been in the last five years,” Watkins said. “Our practices are more intense, and we're not giving up on balls. I have eight seniors, so I expect the competition level to be good.”

The Gators are coming off a second-place showing in Section 5-A and a preliminary-round playoff loss to Laurel.

This year, the goals are high as the Gators hope to build off a solid season.

“I had the seniors step up and tell me what they expect out of themselves,” Watkins said. “We had a lot of different things, but as far as goals, they want to compete for a section championship and win a game in the playoffs. They want to make sure that they aren't out of the talk for a section title halfway through the season.”

The Gators will rely on the seniors Kylee Soberdash, Ashley Tomasko, Haley Thomas, Haley Solan, Kaylee Ermine, Brooke Core, Laura Kozel and Catie Hamel to be leaders.

“They are all not just good athletes but good students,” Watkins said. “They all have great personalities. The seniors all get along with each other, and the others girls see that, and it becomes a cohesive thing for our team.”

The Gators lost Rachel Elias to graduation, otherwise, the team is mostly intact from last season.

Solan and Tomasko are setters, and Thomas and junior Riley Bocan are slated as outside hitters. Junior Alyssa Hutchinson is a middle hitter, and Soberdash will play at right side hitter. Ermine is a libero, and junior Morgan DeWitt will play middle back and possibly outside hitter.

According to Solan, everything is set up for the Gators to achieve success.

“I think we can do really well this year,” Solan said. “We only lost one player, and all the seniors are good leaders. I think that we will step up and do well.”

While Watkins has seen his share of winning teams over the course of his 24 years with the program, he is particularly excited about the potential for this group.

“I'm more excited about this season than I've been in a few years,” Watkins said. “I appreciate their effort and I look forward to coming to practice each day. The effort is there and the kids want to be here. That's it in a nutshell, and I think we'll have a lot of fun this year.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at

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