Perkiomen Valley’s Veverka caps senior season with Mercury All-Area Honors

There was a time some years ago when girls volleyball was nothing more than a homeroom activity or an intramural sport at the scholastic level. Or, possibly it was offered as part of the physical education classes.

But as they say, girls volleyball has come a long way. It is now on par with all of the other sports that the PIAA mandates throughout the school year. It is offered during fall, which has made it a popular extracurricular activity and athletic option for a girl to pursue.

Perkiomen Valley’s 6-foot-3 senior outside hitter Cayla Veverka is a perfect example of how far girls volleyball has emerged as a full-fledged sport on par with the offers that have regular parts of the school year. Veverka, who surpassed the 1,000-kills mark early this past season, played multiple sports as a youngster, where she concentrated on soccer and basketball with her obvious height advantage. But once she reached the senior high school level, Veverka decided that volleyball would be the best fit for her.

Perkiomen Valley's Emily Oltman (10) and Cayla Veverka (32) return the ball against Spring-Ford Thursday. (Tom Kelly III - For The Mercury)
Perkiomen Valley’s  Cayla Veverka (32) was a key part in the Vikings’ rise to a share of the PAC-10 title this season. (Tom Kelly III – For The Mercury)

She proceeded to become an all-league, all-District 1-AAA and all-state player this year while helping lead the Vikings into the PIAA Class AAA State Tournament. There, PV fell to eventual state champion Parkland, a perennial state powerhouse in volleyball, in the first round of the state tournament.

Perkiomen Valley shared the Pioneer Athletic Conference team championship with Pope John Paul II, and Veverka was a big reason why the Vikings enjoyed the success they did under first-year head coach Drew Scheeler.

For all of her individual achievements as well as Perkiomen Valley’s team success this season, Veverka has been named The Mercury’s All-Area 2015 Player of the Year for girls volleyball.

Veverka, the daughter of Craig and Cindi Veverka, has also parlayed girls volleyball into an athletic scholarship. She will attend Providence College in Rhode Island next year to continue her athletic career and her academic career as a mathematics major.

Veverka has a long history in athletics.

“I started playing soccer when I was 3 years-old,” said Veverka. “That led me to travel soccer and travel basketball. When I was in seventh grade, I stopped playing soccer and started playing volleyball. My teammates led me to do that.”

Once she stopped playing soccer, Veverka began spending more and more time involved with volleyball. And once she arrived at Perkiomen Valley High School, Veverka knew that volleyball was going to the sport that could take her to a Division I level in the collegiate ranks.

She simply fell in love with the sport. And because of that stern interest, she did everything she possibly could to improve herself as a player who could also assist her team so much as a unit.

“I was a natural,” Veverka aid of her athletic prowess. “Athletics came to me naturally. I did work on soccer faster. But for volleyball and basketball, I was powerful. I could jump higher and it was just perfecting the little details.”

This year Veverka teamed with another tall, top player along the forward line in senior Caitlin Corcoran, a middle blocker who stands 6-1 and is headed to Bentley University to pursue her academic and athletic careers in girls volleyball.

Veverka has always been an organized person while doing a number of things as a student-athlete at the scholastic level.

Besides academics and sports, where she has excelled, Veverka is also employed part-time. Figuring out how to budget her school work, athletics and her job, Veverka has found plenty of success in all three categories.

Because of that, she figures time management at the collegiate level should be a smooth transition.

Veverka has played under a number of coaches who have helped her develop in sports and as a person while growing up in the area.

One of them was the late John Streeper, who was her travel basketball coach before passing away a couple years ago.

“He fit my athletic career to my personality,” said Veverka. “It has always been family. Our whole team is family.”

Her travel soccer coach was Eric Dowiak, and the two of them spent some six years working together on the field.

“I started when I was little so he helped me so much when I was little,” said Veverka.

When volleyball entered the picture, Veverka turned to Josh and Sue McNulty.

“I had never played before so they made me the player that I am,” said Veverka. “I went from being a player with no skills to the volleyball player that I am today. They coached my club volleyball team called Integrity Volleyball.”

Integrity Volleyball works with players of all age groups. She participated there for three years and then spent two years involved with St. Eleanor’s in Collegeville.

She has been able to play volleyball for some 10 or 11 years already before she even heads off to college. Perkiomen Valley was one of the area schools to make it a regular part of its sports activities.

Veverka played for Chang Han at Perkiomen Valley until Scheeler took over as head coach for the 2015 season.

“Coach Scheeler’s style is a little bit different,” said Veverka. “But we had a group of girls who work well together. So we were able to get to the district level and then the first round of states for the first time ever. He stepped into the role and helped get us to the next level.”

Perkiomen Valley wound up bowing to Parkland 4-1 in its state playoff game. But even with that, the Vikings felt it was part of a major accomplishment since they were able to take it to five sets against a powerful Parkland team, which eventually captured the state championship.

“If you lose, you want it to be against the best,” said Veverka. “They did such a great job this year. There was a little bit of adjusting that we should have done, but we were right there with them, which is a great feeling.”

Veverka said Perkiomen Valley was so successful this season because the Vikings featured plenty of talent. But they also became a team that played as one unit together, functioning well in all areas. That family-like bond on the court was main reason she feels they were so solid.

“We worked really well together,” she said. “It was a great season.”

Veverka feels that despite losses to graduation, Perkiomen Valley has some talented younger players who will work hard to maintain a high level of play and continue the tradition in girls volleyball at the school.

She picked Providence for college because of the Friars’ coaches and the way she was treated on her first visit. She likes the academics and the chance to compete the Big East Conference.

“They are a more competitive team, and I am excited to be part of it growing with all of the new girls they are bringing in,” said Veverka.

She originally committed to the University of Akron as a sophomore. However, that changed when there was a coaching change, and she began to pursue different colleges.

Liberty, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Towson were also in the picture at one time. Overall, Veverka received letters from 50-60 different schools to pursue volleyball.

Currently, she is playing with a travel team known as East Coast Power in the Lehigh Valley, which has action from the winter all the way through to June. The team, coached by Parkland head coach Mike Krause, features collegiate players from all over.

“It is a good experience working with the Parkland girls,” said Veverka. “That makes it great. It makes it that much more competitive.”

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