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2017 Mercury Area Girls Volleyball Preview

Boyertown

Coach: Mike Ludwig, first season.

Last year’s record: N/A (first-year program).

Players to watch: Seniors: Haley Bastian, middle hitter; Serena Salenga, right side hitter. Juniors: Taylor Jones, outside hitter/setter; Leah Black, middle hitter; Allie Garris, right side hitter; Ashley Anders, defensive specialist. Sophomore: Julia Smith, libero. Freshman: Emma Ludwig, outside hitter/setter.

Outlook: The Bears put together a club volleyball team last fall which drew in a strong turnout with Ludwig serving as club advisor. Now, its officially a sanctioned sport at Boyertown as the Bears boast a roster riddled with well-rounded upperclassmen. “The girls have been working very hard to prepare for the season,” said Ludwig, who also coaches the boys basketball team during the winter. “Practices have been spirited with good competition. As a team we are looking to improve every day we step on the court. With a few experienced players leading the way, we are looking to be competitive in all our matches. As coaches it has been very rewarding to see how far each of the girls has come in such a short time and we look forward to seeing how good this team can be by the end of the season.”

Daniel Boone

Coach: Matt Kessler, first season.

Last year’s record: 10-4 Berks I; 10-10 overall.

Players to watch: Devon Haag, Keri Kearns, Marissa Rapposelli.

Outlook: The Blazers put together a solid 2016 season that ended in the opening round of the District 3 Class 4A playoffs against Warwick. They’ll look to get past that point this fall with the return of All-Berks selections Haag and Kearns.

Methacton

Coach: Shane Manser, 13th season.

Last year’s record: 7-7 PAC; 13-9 overall.

Players to watch: Seniors: Andrea Castaneda, outside hitter; Maggie Welsh, middle hitter; Nicole Cooper, defensive specialist; Fran Mbonglou, middle hitter/right side; Annie McGarvey, middle hitter/right side. Juniors: Carli Ginther, libero; Emma Eglinton setter; Lauren Stanley, right side/outside hitter; Hannah O’Donnell, defensive specialist.

Outlook: The Warriors are coming off a memorable finish to the 2016 season where they posted an upset of Central Bucks East in the opening round of the District 1 playoffs. Now, with the return of 16 players who logged varsity time last fall, Methacton could be primed to make another run. Ginther will step into the libero role following the graduation of All-PAC first teamer and District 1 honorable Mention Ashley Newman. “Methacton has a solid mix of juniors and seniors, along with sophomore Sydney Zerbe, that is skilled and versatile and is ready to contend for the Liberty Division title,” said Manser.

Norristown

Coach: Connie L. Randolph, first season.

Last year’s record: 1-13 PAC; 2-13 overall.

Players to watch: Senior: Toyvannah Wright, Middle Hitter. Juniors: Tamara Wright; Lorraine Boggs. Freshmen: Cameron Johnson, outside hitter; Julianna McNamee, setter. Shannon Taylor, libero; Mary Mendez, defensive specialist.

Outlook: Randolph takes the reins for her first season with the Norristown program and is focusing on building the program both on and off the court. “I am confident that in two years, with the help of my incredible coaching staff, our JV and varsity teams will be performing at higher levels and will start attracting college coaches to look our way,” said Randolph. For now, Randolph will look to rebuild her varsity team that graduated four key seniors — Ceida Branca, Rachel Rosetti, Corrine Leary and Libero Maggie Falco (now playing for Montgomery County Community College) — from last year’s team. The Eagles will get new support from Amaya Barnkowski, Kim Nichols and Adrianna Wright on the front line along with Aleshia Cofield at defensive specialist.

Owen J. Roberts

Coach: Ryan Brewer, second season.

Last year’s record: 3-11 PAC; 5-11 overall.

Players to watch: Juniors: Michelle Frank, outside hitter; Mikayla Johnson, outside hitter. Sophomore: Chloe Golas, setter.

Outlook: The Wildcats have made steady improvements since their inaugural season in 2015. They’ll return a bevy of experience, including two-time Team MVP Frank, who will head the outside position along with Johnson. “(The team) went from struggling to win a game within a match their first season, to winning five matches last year in their second season,” said Brewer, entering his third overall season with the program. “They hope to utilize the returning skill players, and the chemistry that has been developing, to continue to improve their record.”

Perkiomen Valley

Coach: Drew Scheeler, third season.

Last year’s record: 8-6 PAC; 11-8 overall.

Players to watch: Seniors: Ellie Min, setter; Helena Clauhs, outside hitter; Jess Oltman, middle blocker. Juniors: Sarah Straub, middle blocker; Grace Herbein, opposite hitter; Lia Torrilo, outside hitter; Liz Caruso, libero.

Outlook: The Vikings are looking to build off a solid campaign that ended in the second round of the District 1 playoffs. All that’s gone is libero Adrianna Lattanzi with Caruso waiting in the wings and ready to fill the void. Min, who has been a part of the program since she arrived at PV, achieved her 2,000th career assist on Sept. 6 with the help of a lineup peppered with upperclassmen. “A return to the PAC final four and districts is a goal of this team,” said Scheeler. “With heavy senior leadership PV hopes to contend with the other top teams in the PAC.”

Phoenixville

Coach: Seth McNaughton, fourth season.

Last year’s record: 1-13 PAC; 5-16 overall.

Players to watch: Seniors: Alex Poloway, outside hitter; Marple Maloney, libero. Juniors: Romina Broglia, outside/opposite hitter; Keara Hennessey, setter; Kayla Grammerstorf, middle hitter.

Outlook: The Phantoms will return five of seven starters from last year’s team, including Poloway, Maloney, Hennessey and Broglia, all returning for their third varsity season. Grammerstorf returns after leading last year’s squad in hitting percentage and blocks as the team will also bring in a few athletes who McNaughton believes can make a quick impact, including Malu Salin Matos, a newcomer from Brazil. “The Phantoms have grown together over the past few years, and are hoping to use their team chemistry to compete against the perennial powerhouses of the PAC and have the team goal of reaching the District One playoffs.”

Pope John Paul II

Coach: Ryan Sell, sixth season.

Last year’s record: 14-0 PAC; 20-3 overall.

Players to watch: Seniors: MaryKate Mooney, outside hitter; Maggie Bevenour, defensive setter. Juniors: Mikaela Monroe, middle blocker; Simone Sparano, defensive setter.

Outlook: The Golden Panthers’ season ended abruptly last season — a five-set thriller in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs against eventual state champion Allentown Central Catholic. For the year, PJP had won 19 matches by straight sets and held a 64-10 game advantage for the season. Gone from that team are Mercury All-Area first teamers Alana Pergine (Player of the Year), Myah Cordrey and Alyssa Cianciulli along with second team selection Hayley Wusinich all lost to graduation with Mooney among the standout returners. “We lost all but one of our starters (Mooney) from last year,” said Sell. “I’m really excited to see how much we can grow this year we have what it takes to be a good team we just need to play together more.”

Pottsgrove

Coach: Jaime Reinhart, first season.

Last year’s record: N/A (first-year program).

Players to watch: Seniors: Sara Amer, setter; Kira Livezey, middle hitter. Juniors: Allie Reppert, middle/outside hitter; Savannah Lear, setter. Sophomore: Chloe Shivak, outside hitter.

Outlook: The Falcons are starting the girls volleyball program from scratch after it had been approved last October. So far Reinhart and the Falcons have seen plenty of turnout with a huge number of players turning out at team tryouts last month. That said, Pottsgrove will be up for a tall task competing in the PAC this season. “We are hoping to improve every game — even possible get a win in our first season,” said Reinhart. “Since we are a first year program with no experienced players, we are hoping to learn the game and have as much fun as possible while doing so.”

Spring-Ford

Coach: Josh McNulty

Last year’s record: 10-4 PAC; 14-9 overall.

Players to watch: Seniors: Rachel Kearon, Alexis Palucki, Carly Swenson. Juniors: Olivia Olsen, Grace Kraft.

Outlook: The Rams finished runner-up in the PAC after losing in the championship in straight sets to Pope John Paul II. Spring-Ford’s season came to a finish in the second round of the District 1 Class 4A playoffs after they ran into Bishop Shanahan. Gone from last year’s team is All-Area First Team selection Paige DeAlba along with Honorable Mention Jenna Plitnick. Olsen and Kraft look plenty promising as they lead the way into their junior seasons.

Upper Merion

Coach: Tony Funsten, 24th season.

Last year’s record: 11-3 PAC; 16-6 overall.

Players to watch: Senior: Emma Andraka, outside hitter. Juniors: Tori Wright, outside hitter; Kelly Moore, setter; Katelyn O’Brien, defensive specialist; Emily Gallagher, libero. Freshman: Jada Peoples, right side hitter.

Outlook: Last season — their first since joining the Pioneer Athletic Conference — was the first time in a decade that the Vikings didn’t win a conference championship. That’s stuck with Funsten and his players, most of which are back with another year of experience gained. “This year’s team is experienced and talented but we also play in a very difficult league,” he said. “Winning league titles is not easy playing the likes of PJP, Perk Valley, Spring-Ford and Methacton, but the Lady Vikings will give their best effort.” Andraka was named to the Mercury’s All-Area First Team while Wright and Moore were named Second Team and Honorable Mention, respectively. Upper Merion’s season ended in the quarterfinal round of the district playoffs for the second straight season last fall.

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