Greensburg Central Catholic girls volleyball using last season’s early exit as motivation for playoffs
To say the members of the Greensburg Central Catholic girls volleyball team remember last season’s first-round loss would be a drastic understatement.
Apparently, it was, and is, motivation for success.
“They talked about it so much, and how they wanted to win the section again,” GCC coach Courtney Stynchula said. “But their hopes are winning WPIALs and not doing what they did last year.”
The Centurions were ousted by Fort Cherry after a 3-2 loss in the opening round a year ago.
That followed a 2016 season where they claimed WPIAL and PIAA titles.
Needless to say, the GCC girls would like to repeat their performance from two years ago when the WPIAL playoffs get underway Wednesday.
The No. 3-seeded Centurions will take on No. 14 Jefferson-Morgan in a first-round match at 6 p.m. at Hempfield.
“I hope to go really far in playoffs this year,” said Stynchula, a first-year head coach who served the past two seasons as an assistant. “If they play to the best of their ability, they can go the whole way.”
Greensburg Central Catholic rolled to the Section 4 title with a 14-0 record.
They were seeded behind defending WPIAL champion Bishop Canevin and Section 2 champion Carmichaels. Both also went undefeated in section play.
The Centurions have been led by a quartet of seniors in libero Ruby Binkerton, middle hitter Sara Petnuch, outside hitter Abbey Kilkeary and right-side hitter Rachael Riley.
Kilkeary and junior Liz Colecchia moved from setter to outside hitter this season, as sophomore Ava Bailey moved into the setter role.
A pair of freshmen -- middle hitter Rebecca Hess and utility player Isabella Guerrieri have made an immediate impact.
Junior Alex Christlieb also has been a reliable player in the back row.
Like the Centurions, Derry is hoping to advance deep in the WPIAL playoffs.
The Trojans fell to Beaver in the quarterfinals a year ago.
Coincidentally, they will meet the Bobcats again in the Class 2A first round at 6 p.m. Thursday at Armstrong.
The No. 7 Trojans, who qualified for the playoffs for the 20th straight season, defeated No. 10 Beaver at the Norwin tournament on Saturday en route to a second-place finish.
“We beat them without two people, but a playoff match is completely different than a tournament,” Derry coach Brock Smith said. “They’ve been very successful the past four or five years. They still have lots of capable players on the team.
“We are not the most offensively gifted team, but we are very good defensively, and we serve well.”
The Trojans are led by libero Lauren Enos and setter Raeanna Ressler.
“Our ability to control the ball relies on those girls to control the game,” Smith said.
The team’s leading hitters are Kamryn Kelly on the outside and Rylee Ellis in the middle.
Many of the Trojans have playoff experience, which should play a key role on Thursday.
“You have to contain your emotions, play within your system. Eliminate mistakes where you can. Stay within your confines on defense,” Smith said. “We have to be sure we are hitting intelligently.”
In Class 4A, Section 3 featured tri-champions and they were all seeded in a row.
No. 6 Norwin will host No. 11 Peters Township at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. No. 7 Hempfield will host No. 10 Shaler at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. No. 8 Latrobe will take on No. 9 Butler at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Norwin.
In the Class 3A first round on Thursday, No. 11 Franklin Regional will face No. 6 Laurel Highlands at 6 p.m. at Serra Catholic, and No. 14 Greensburg Salem will head to No. 3 Thomas Jefferson for a 7:30 p.m. match.
No. 9 Southmoreland, the Section 3 runner-up, will face No. 8 Seton LaSalle at 6 p.m. Thursday at Frazier in the Class 2A first round.
North Allegheny (Class 4A), Knoch (3A), Freeport (2A) and Bishop Canevin (A) are the top seeds.
All four WPIAL championships are scheduled for Nov. 3 at Fox Chapel.