Baldwin junior volleyball standout lands top postseason accolade
Maddi Sgattoni can't drive a car yet, but she sure knows how to be a driving force on the volleyball court.
Sgattoni has had a dynamic volleyball career at Baldwin as the 5-foot-10 outside hitter led her team to WPIAL Class AAA titles the past two seasons.
And she's only a junior.
“Maddi, in my opinion, is the best player in the WPIAL,” Chris Kelly, Baldwin's second-year coach, said. “As the total package, her whole game, she's the best player, no doubt.”
Baldwin has a 40-0 record versus WPIAL opposition the past two years (20-0 in 2014, 20-0 in 2015) and is 43-2 overall.
And Sgattoni, who said her greatest team accomplishment in volleyball is winning back-to-back WPIAL crowns, was named first-team All-WPIAL both years.
She also was a Class AAA all-state player twice — along with teammates Mackenzie Voelker (outside hitter) in 2014, and Sierra Colbert (middle hitter) and Mallory O'Brien (setter) in 2015.
Sgattoni, 16, is just as brilliant in the classroom. She owns a 4.19 GPA and ranks 16th out of 348 students (which is in the top five percent).
Assistant coach Adam Foote previously was coach at Baldwin and has been able to watch Sgattoni develop her game since her grade-school days.
“Maddi has been on our radar for years,” Foote said. “I remember her coming to youth camps and standing out as a fifth and sixth grader. Since then, we have been excited to have her as part of the varsity program. Her contributions are both tangible and intangible. On paper, she is the most complete player in the WPIAL, and most likely the state. She is a leader in kills, blocks, aces, digs and passing.
“As for her intangibles, Maddi is an exceptional teammate and motivator. She loves working hard, and because of her willingness to push herself and her teammates, everyone gets better. Her focus and dedication have had a tremendous impact on the girls' volleyball program.”
Sgattoni took time recently to answer a series of questions.
Q: How did it feel to win this year's WPIAL title, compared to last year?
A: Last year, we were the underdog and were unexpected to win. This year, our goal from the start was to make it back to the WPIAL championship. Both were amazing feelings.
Q: How long have you been playing volleyball?
A: A total of eight years (grades 4-11).
Q: What do you like most about playing volleyball?
A: Being a part of a team and working together to reach a common goal.
Q: How would you characterize yourself as a player?
A: I try to be a good leader and be very vocal on the court.
Q: What was the key to the team's success this season?
A: Our bond on and off the court; we're like a family.
Q: What is the early outlook for Baldwin for the 2016 season?
A: We are losing a larger class of seniors, but with the players coming back we hope to contend for a section title again and qualify for the WPIAL playoffs.
Q: Do you have any college plans?
A: Not at this time, but I definitely plan to play volleyball in college.
Q: What club team or teams do you compete for in the offseason?
A: This will be my third year with the Renaissance National Volleyball club; I am currently on the 17 Black team.
The club director is Brian Begor, and my team coach has been Shawn Palmer the past three years.
We took first place in the USA 17 Gold division at the 2015 NEQ championships, and we advanced to the junior national championships in 2014 and 2015.
Q: Do any of your Baldwin teammates compete on your club team(s)?
Q: Where have you traveled in your volleyball career?
A: New Orleans (2015 junior nationals), Minneapolis (2014 junior nationals), Indianapolis (2015 MEQ championships), Philadelphia (2015 and 2014 NEQ championships), Washington D.C. (2015 and 2014 Presidents Day Capitol Hill Classic), Ft. Lauderdale (2013 USA/OVR high performance championships), Orlando (2012 AAU junior nationals), State College/Penn State (2013 and 2012 Happy Volley championships), Lancaster, Pa. (KRVA regionals), Columbus, Ohio (OVR regionals).
Q: Who has been the biggest influences in your volleyball career?
A: My sister (Tori), who I have looked up to in volleyball since fourth grade. She is the reason I started (playing) volleyball.
Q: Do you play any other sports?
A: Not any more, but I used to play basketball and soccer.
Q: Is there any special reason why you wear uniform No. 13?
A: I always wore lucky No. 13 growing up when playing soccer, volleyball and basketball.
Q: What is your favorite subject?
A: Math, because it comes easily to me.
Q: What words best describe you?
A: Outspoken, outgoing, friendly.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: Hang out with friends.
Q: What kind of music do you like?
Q: What was the last movie you saw, and how many stars would you give it?
A: “Mockingjay Part 2”; four stars.
Q: What movie could you watch over and over again?
A: “Dear John.”
Q: What's your favorite Christmas movie? ....favorite Christmas memory?
A: “Elf”… having Santa come visit us at my grandma's house when I was little.
Q: What is your favorite food? Least favorite food?
A: Pizza; guacamole.
Q: What foods always are in your refrigerator?
A: Yogurt, apples, chicken salad.
Q: What three people would you like to have dinner with?
A. James Lafferty, Sophia Bush, Blake Lively.
Q. What is something interesting about you that nobody knows?
A: In the summer I lifeguard at the Whitehall Borough pool with my sister and best friend (Lauren Gilbert).
Q: Are you planning to make a New Year's resolution?
A: Help my club volleyball team qualify for nationals in Indy this coming summer.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or email@example.com.