Valley 8th-grader Lewandowski sets volleyball serve record
With such names as Mycaiah Clemons and Toney Clemons, Tom Pipkins, B.B. Flenory, Greg Meisner and arguably the most historic of all in Willie Thrower — the NFL's first black quarterback — not many Alle-Kiski Valley schools can boast of a more notable and accomplished trophy case than Valley.
Middle school volleyball player Emily Lewandowski nudged her away into that crowded case last week when she, along with her coach and teammates, carved an 8-inch diameter hole and retired the volleyball she used to serve a perfect set of 25 consecutive points in the Vikings middle school Gold team's 2-0 win over Riverview.
“I was just thinking that it was one more point to my record, and I then I just kept going,” said Lewandowski, 14, recalling her record-setting match. “My team was helping me out so much by returning the ball back over. I feel so honored, and I would have never thought that this was possible.”
Lewandowski broke her own record. The eighth-grader launched 21 consecutive serves over the net last month in the Vikings' 2-0 win over Springdale, breaking Tedaja Murphy's 7-year-old record of 17.
“With the people that are in there, it is very historical because the people that are in there have done a lot of great things,” Valley athletic director Muzzy Colosimo said.
Lewandowski's coach, April Stone, also coaches is the Vikings varsity and can't wait to get the young phenom next fall.
“I already told my JV coach that she's not stepping a foot on the JV court,” Stone said. “She's going to be a part of lots of things, and I told her there's probably going to be plenty of more stories to come.”
Lewandowski's volleyball story started in early spring of her seventh-grade year when, during homeroom, it was announced Stone would be holding volleyball tryouts.
“Last year, I had no idea about anything in volleyball,” Lewandowski said. “I had no knowledge, and now I do.”
That's when the starting point guard on the middle school basketball team, aspiring track star and now-former softball player made a commitment to volleyball. Lewandowski put in the work last summer, perfecting her serve against the gymnasium walls of the New Kensington YMCA.
“She practiced all offseason, and she wants to be the best of the best, and it actually shows,” Stone said. “Her consistency is what shines the most at this level.”
Lewandowksi took things a step further and attended a Pitt volleyball camp to further immerse herself in the nuances of the sport.
“(The camp) taught me so much in the couple of hours I was there,” Lewandowski said. “I improved on my back bumping and my serve. That's where I'm focused on going (to school).
“I worked so hard to get this serve and I just love the competition,” she said.
William Whalen is a freelance writer.