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Thomas Jefferson volleyball program in good shape for future

November 26, 2018

Thomas Jefferson’s girls volleyball team regularly churns out section championships.

The Jaguars tied for first with Laurel Highlands in Section 3-AAA play this season.

The TJ volleyball program can expect continued success in future years.

The JV team finished with a 15-1 record this season, losing only to Central Valley in a nonsection match.

The TJ girls defeated Albert Gallatin, Belle Vernon, Uniontown, Elizabeth Forward, Yough, Ringgold and Laurel Highlands twice in section play.

The Jaguars also defeated South Fayette in a nonsection match.

“This was a fun season with a great group of girls,” said Natalie Meyer, TJ’s fourth-year JV coach. “We were a very strong serving and defensive team, mirroring the strengths we see on varsity. Having a solid first contact (serve/serve, receive/defense) can really frustrate a team, especially younger less-experienced JV teams.”

Meyer is a 2011 Thomas Jefferson graduate and was a three-year letterwinner and two-year starter at setter.

She also played on Penn State’s club volleyball team for four years.

Meyer guided the Jaguars’ JV team to a 16-0 record in 2015 in her first season at the helm.

“Each year, my goal for the JV team is to improve each day, not only individually but as a team,” said Meyer, who is employed as a physical therapist. “They have done that by challenging each other every day in practice. Some of the best games are scrimmages against each other in our own gym. Their hard work paid off with a very successful season.

“The last week (of the season), the girls played and won some of their best matches against Laurel Highlands and Elizabeth Forward.”

Many of the girls on the JV team are multisport athletes.

The key contributors were freshman setter Caitlyn Chalovich, sophomore setter/outside hitter Claire Whalen, freshman middle hitters Lilly Cooke and Emma Stock, freshman outside hitter/setter Julia Palmer, sophomore outside hitters Abby Thompson and Jenna Fox, sophomore libero Paige Ramsey, freshman right-side hitter Kaylee Rehak and sophomore defensive specialist Celia Dobransky.

“I think the JV team had a great season,” Ramsey said. “And I think next year’s JV team will have a fantastic season. With the eighth graders coming to the high school and this year’s freshmen becoming sophomores, the team will be full of great players.

“The freshmen have improved so much during this season, and I can’t wait to see them play again next year.”

Ramsey, who is involved in TJ vs. Cancer and Big Jag Little Cub, already is looking forward to next season.

“I think next year the varsity team will have a strong season,” she said. “Even though the seniors will leave a tough legacy to fill, I know we will be ready to win. I think quite a few sophomores will have prominent roles on the varsity team. But I think it is tough competition based on other player’s positions and skills.”

The top reserves on this year’s JV team included freshmen DS Riley Patrick and Alyssa Lash, and sophomore setter Jordan Snyder; along with freshmen Gaby Janusek (OH), Leah Coles (MH), Daycia Clifford (RS) and Samantha Garbowsky (DS).

“As I mentioned,” Meyer said, “continuing to produce good defensive and serving teams going forward will hopefully help continue the success that the varsity has seen this year and in the past.”

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