New Kensington women's volleyball outlook

September 14, 2011

A strong and athletic defense will be the hallmark of the 2011 Penn State New Kensington women's volleyball team.

With a blend of savvy veterans and confident freshmen, head coach Dave McGeary will count on his team's ability to read opponents' attack positions and to be in the best position to counter with digs and blocks.

"Our lack of height directs us to play defensive, opportunistic volleyball," said McGeary, who begins his second year as coach."We will force the opposing team to earn their points while trying to take advantage of their missed opportunities."

Last year, a young New Kensington squad finished 2-14 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference. The Lady Lions were competitive in all matches but showed inexperience at critical moments during the game.

This year, inexperience has given way to maturity, and with maturity comes the ability to maintain composure throughout the match. With the addition of talented and athletic freshmen, McGeary's team can be in position to win games.

"We have a strong core of athletic players returning, and we have a nice mix of talented recruits," said McGeary, a graduate of Dickinson College with a degree in economics. "Our on-court maturity should complement our skill set nicely."

Heading the list of returnees are sophomores, middle hitter Doreen Akins (Lenape), outside hitter Rachel Sportelli (Highlands) and her twin, outside hitter Valerie Sportelli (Highlands). According to McGeary, the trio has worked hard in the pre-season on hitting and serving.

"Doreen gives us strength and consistency in the middle, especially on blocks," said McGeary, a resident of New Kensington and Valley High School graduate. "Rachel and Valerie mirror each other as strong side hitters and middle back defensive players."

Newcomers expected to crack the starting line-up from the outset are freshmen Melissa Daugherty (Plum) and Tammy Ferriera (Penn Trafford). Daugherty adds another strong outside hitter to the team, and Ferriera takes on setter duties.

"We are expecting significant contributions from Melissa, whose overall skills and experience should provide a solid presence on the court," said McGeary. "Tammy brings good setting skills to the team."

Battling for additional court time will be sophomore defensive specialist Taylor Pastovic (Highlands), freshman outside hitter/defensive specialist Jessica George (Burrell), freshman outside hitter Kara Shaley (West Shamokin) and freshman outside hitter/defensive specialist Katie Colbert (Fox Chapel).

"We are athletic and will play gritty defense," McGeary said. "We should be a strong and consistent serving team, which will keep us in every game."

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Last Updated September 14, 2011