West Shamokin falls in opening round
Justin Nolder warned his West Shamokin girls earlier this season about a lack of sympathy from WPIAL opponents.
No one planned to feel sorry for the defending WPIAL Class A girls volleyball champions, even if they did move up to Class AA after Elderton students returned to their reopened high school.
Sure enough, the Wolves drew the No. 1 seed, Indiana, in the first round of the tournament. And not surprisingly, the host Indians unleashed all of their weapons against West Shamokin during a 3-0 win Thursday night.
"I always expect to compete with a team, no matter who it is," said Nolder, whose Wolves lost, 25-7, 25-14 and 25-11. "I think we started the first game with a lot of nerves, and it showed. ... I thought in the second and third game, we did a better job of finding a rhythm, finding a flow."
West Shamokin senior Corrin McElwain's block tied the score, 6-6, in the first game, but Indiana scored 19 of the next 20 points. Eleven of the 20 points were kills, three were aces and two were blocks.
The Wolves (10-5) stayed close early in the second game, too, trailing, 15-11. But six unforced errors helped the Indians bolster their lead.
Indiana, leading, 5-4, early in the third game, pulled away with the help of setter Haylie Fefolt's three kills and West Shamokin's eight unforced errors.
Indiana's Stapleton sisters — 5-foot-9 senior Leslie and 5-8 sophomore Haley — were West Shamokin's greatest threats, Nolder said. The Wolves schemed to limit their opportunities for kills and did everything in their power to keep the ball off the ground. Senior setter Beth Bassinger crashed into the scorer's table and the bleachers in attempts to save wayward balls.
"She is the most aggressive volleyball player I've ever coached," Nolder said. "When she was younger, we used to kid that she'd go to another ZIP code to get a ball."
Leslie Stapleton still managed four kills, and her sister logged five. The Indians finished with 30 kills.
"I expected nothing less than that," senior libero Kara Shaley said of Indiana's power. "(To slow the Indians), you just have to read them well and go after every ball."
Senior Bree Wilson had five kills for West Shamokin. senior Alyssa Skamai and Alecia Calhoun finished with four apiece.
Asked whether the Wolves wondered how they might've fared had they played in Class A this season, Shaley nodded. But she said what-ifs weren't limited to that issue.
"What if we won more games in our section?" she said. "We wouldn't have had this (matchup with the Class AA No. 1 seed). But we're happy with how we did this season."