Indians, Raiders aim to qualify for district play
Both Lourdes Regional and Shamokin Area's volleyball teams qualified for the District 4-AA playoffs and reached the semifinal round in 2011, and although both teams had some big graduation losses, both seem ready to make another shot at the postseason in 2012.
Lourdes probably has a slightly tougher hill to climb. The Red Raiders will have a new head coach, Tom O'Brien, who assisted Rich Weikel last season, and lost several key players, including Molly Loftus, the school's career kills leader, libero Ali Singh and solid role players Cassie Senoski and Kayla Shamus.
"We're a little inexperienced; we lost 10 seniors," O'Brien said. "But we have a few seniors we're looking to for leadership. We struggled a little in our first scrimmage but I think we'll improve as the season goes on. The girls are working hard."
Setter/libero Peyton Klembara and outside hitter Angelique Pennypacker lead a strong junior class.
Shamokin also lost several key starters, including Anna Summers, Alli Delbaugh, Hilary Feudale,
Celine Templar and Tara Wasilewski. But the Indians have a little more experience returning, including outside hitter Kelsey Yacko, who set a school season record for kills with 315. In addition, the Indians have a core group of defensive specialists back, led by libero Ciana Rollman, alongside Brie Bonshock and Helana Supsic. Also back is another outside hitter, Olivia Bonshock.
Ashley Huxta was a sometimes serve specialist last season and she, Caitlin Pancher Stefanie Hile and Cheyenne Popewacz are expected to step in and contribute at the varsity level.
"We are also looking for defensive contributions from Marlana Ford and Kourtnee Chapman, and offensive contributions from Shaylee Pesarchick and Carley Nash," said veteran head coach Wanda Cook. "We are going into the season optimistic despite losing five from last year's starting lineup."
Capsule looks at each team:
Coach: Tom O'Brien, 1st season.
Assistant coaches: Tara Bregensir, Brian Gummel.
2011 record: 14-8, District 4-AA semifinalists.
Roster: Seniors - Ania Rawa, outside/middle hitter; Kelsea Bergeron, outside hitter; Nicole Purcell, setter; Karissa Trent, outside hitter. Juniors - Peyton Klembara, setter/libero; Angelique Pennypacker, outside hitter; Darla Hood, outside hitter; Brittany Gummel, setter/libero; Heather Raker, outside/middle hitter; Courtney Shirmer, outside hitter; Desaree Malick, middle hitter. Sophomores - Caity Funk, outside/middle hitter; Erin Scicchitano, middle hitter. Freshmen - Marcus O'Brien, outside hitter/setter; Maya Yoder, outside/middle hitter; Jess Stankavage, outside/middle hitter.
Outlook: The Red Raiders must replace some key graduation losses, including Molly Loftus, the school's career kills leader, Kayla Shamus, libero Ali Singh and setter Cassie Senoski. If they can get new personnel to work together quickly, the Red Raiders should make a run at qualifying for district playoffs again.
Coach: Wanda Cook
Assistant coaches: Stephen Cook, Elizabeth Corcoran, Andrew Arnold
2011 record: 11-6, District 4-AA semifinalists.
Key losses: Anna Summers, Alli Delbaugh, Hilary Feudale, Celine Templar, Tara Wasilewski
Roster: Seniors - Kelsey Yacko, outside hitter/middle hitter; Ciana Rollman, libero; Marlana Ford, outside hitter. Juniors - Stephanie Hile, middle hitter; Caitlin Pancher, outside hitter/middle hitter; Olivia Bonshock, outside hitter; Helana Supsic, defensive specialist; Brie Bonshock, defensive specialist; Ashley Huxta, setter; Cheyenne Popewacz, outside hitter/middle hitter. Sophomores - Kourtnie Chapman, defensive specialist; Carley Nash, middle hitter; Shaylee Pesarchick, setter/defensive specialist.
Outlook: The Indians have a mix of solid veterans and first-year starters. If the newcomers perform well, the Indians should have another solid season.