Quaker Valley girls volleyball enjoys depth, experience entering camp
Mike Vavrek is ready to see the culmination of his four years as coach of the Quaker Valley girls volleyball team.
The team opened camp Monday with plenty of familiar faces, looking to build on the past two seasons in which the Quakers reached the WPIAL playoffs.
“These seniors are the first crew that I've had all the way through since they started as freshmen,” Vavrek said. “We're getting better. We're improving. We're feeling solid, and I feel we should compete with some of the big time teams this year.”
After graduating a combined three seniors over the past two years, this year's team is extremely top-heavy, featuring eight seniors. The four returning starters are Michaela Sobecki, Kathryn Wroblewski, Ashlee Bacvinskas and Hayley Rohrbach.
“This is one of my deepest teams I've had,” Vavrek said. “We've got a lot of younger girls that can step in if there are injuries or problems.”
Even with tremendous depth and experience this season, Vavrek will have to replace the two seniors from last season who graduated. Outside hitters Jade Kost and Alyssa Bartling served as the team's captains.
“That's the biggest thing we lost last year — my two seniors were both captains,” Vavrek said. “They were good leaders, and the girls responded well to them. I'm curious to see who steps up and who takes on that leadership role.”
The seniors are getting a significant chance to prove their leadership during the grueling practices of preseason camp. Camp kicked off Monday with a three-a-day. The girls practiced from 9-11 a.m., 1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m., all in the infamous heat of the Quaker Valley gymnasium.
“It's mid-August,” Vavrek said. “It's crazy. It gets so hot in there. It cools off a little at night, but it's still hot.
“We do a lot of conditioning. I'll continue it through the year, but I try to do most of it now when I can kind of beat them up for a good week.”
The practices vary between two-a-day and three-a-day throughout the duration of camp. Morning sessions consist mostly of conditioning, with skills work in the afternoon and intrasquad scrimmaging at night.
“They hate the morning practices because there's a lot of work and running,” Vavrek said. “We've got to get them in shape. We're not the track team, and we're not the cross country team, so we don't have to run miles and miles. But we have to be more ready in short spurts.”
Approximately 30 girls have been out for tryouts this week, which means five or six will ultimately have to be cut in order to get down to the 24-person roster that Vavrek carries for the JV and varsity seasons, he said.
The Quakers will participate in their first four-team scrimmage Saturday against Beaver, Avonworth and Freeport — last year's WPIAL Class AA champion.
The scrimmage will be a big help toward determining the final roster.
“I like to see things pan out and play everybody,” Vavrek said. “I'll get the younger girls in a bit more, because with the older girls I know what I have. Kind of like with football, I'll get the first team in and get them some reps.”
Scrimmages like these are especially important in helping to plan for the future, as well. With the number of seniors on this year's team, some of the younger girls who will be getting an extended look are still upperclassmen.
“I have a handful of juniors right now that are good enough to make the team, but not quite good enough to start just yet,” Vavrek said. “But they have to be the future, so I've got to make sure that they're ready to go.”