Glendale volleyball returns four letterwinners for the 2014 season
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
FLINTON - Sarah Klezek knew she had a long road to hoe entering her first year at the helm of the Glendale volleyball team a year ago.
After working through the offseason and starting a junior high program that has 21 girls on the roster, Klezek has the Lady Vikings heading in the right direction.
Despite an 0-21 season in 2013, Klezek has high aspirations for this year's team, which features four returning letterwinners.
"We want to be competitive in our conference this year," said Klezek. "Last year, we had a rebuilding year. This year, we're ready to go and we're ready to show everyone what we've got.
"The girls have been working extremely hard for the last three months. They're learning not to just free-ball every ball over the net. They're now getting the bump-set-spike idea and their serves have been phenomenal, and that would be really good for us."
After going winless in her inaugural campaign, Klezek had her squad working throughout the summer, which included traveling to Mount Aloysius College to play some games against well-established programs from around the area.
The Lady Vikings, who have 16 girls on the varsity roster, learned some important lessons they can build upon when they open their schedule on Thursday, according to Klezek.
"We played this summer at the Mount and against a lot of schools that are bigger than us," Klezek said.
"It really showed them a lot of different things. They know how to react better to (adversity) now. Their confidence is definitely a lot better this year, and that's really something we worked on - the mental toughness part."
Last year's campaign provided Glendale with some tough lessons, but Klezek's team will be able to take the experience gained and try to make a positive out of it.
Three seniors lead the Lady Vikings' returnees, including returning middle hitters in Morgan Strong and Mandee Glass.
The pair will return to their familiar position, while Kiana Johnston - the third senior letterwinner - is battling junior returnee Meagan McMillen and Niki Glass for a spot in the starting lineup at outside hitter.
Junior Taylor Berger, who was the team's libero a year ago, made the jump to setter, where she'll be joined by sophomore newcomer Keneisha Gustafson.
Seniors Emily Bobby, Taylor Manges and Alyssa Shipe, juniors Megan Bickford, Kaylee Chilcote and Kristin Seymour, and sophomores Kyla Holtz, Shannan Lowe and Jaslynn Wimberly round out Klezek's roster.
"We have tons of leaders on this team now," said Klezek.
"Morgan has played for a long time for us, Mandee has played for a long time for us. Mandee can hit any spot that we ask her to, and Morgan has a killer spike, so is her serve. Those two will really lead us."
Glendale wastes little time in getting tested, as it hosts perennial Inter-County Conference power Bellwood-Antis on Thursday.
Emily Bobby, *Mandee Glass, Niki Glass, *Kiana Johnston, Taylor Manges, Alyssa Shipe, *Morgan Strong.
Taylor Berger, Megan Bickford, Kaylee Chilcote, *Meagan McMillen, Kristin Seymour.
Keneisha Gustafson, Kyla Holtz, Shannan Lowe, Jaslynn Wimberly.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.
4-Bellwood-Antis; 8-Curwensville, 7 p.m.; 11-at Claysburg-Kimmel, 6:30 p.m.; 15-at St. Joseph's Catholic Academy; 16-Mount Union, 7 p.m.; 18-Juniata Valley; 22-Purchase Line; 23-Williamsburg, 7 p.m.; 25-at Moshannon Valley; 29-at Purchase Line; 30-West Branch, 7 p.m.
2-at Bellwood-Antis; 7-Claysburg-Kimmel; 9-at Mount Union; 13-St. Joseph's Catholic Academy; 14-at Juniata Valley; 16-at Williamsburg; 20-at Portage; 21-Moshannon Valley; 23-at West Branch.
Varsity matches begin at 7:30 p.m. unless noted.