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Boys Volleyball: Knights win Norwin Tournament

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

The host Knights won the season-opening Norwin Boys Volleyball Tournament March 21. Norwin beat Altoona in the title game.

Championship
Norwin 1, Altoona 0

Semifinals
Norwin 1, Bethel Park 0
Altoona 1, Butler 0

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Girls Volleyball: Kiski Area's Toy calls it quits as coach

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley profiles Ellen Toy, who recently retired as Kiski Area's girls volleyball coach. Read his story below.

Kiski Area girls volleyball coach Ellen Toy used a profound way of announcing her retirement.

"I brought a rope to our banquet, a long laundry rope," said Toy, a 1979 Kiski Area alumna. "I had the girls form a circle with the seniors to my right, and had everybody hold the rope."

She had the seniors cut a piece of the rope and revealed to them the true meaning of it.

"I told the seniors that the time had come for them to take their piece of the rope and take it out into the world," Toy said. "Tie it on to something special, so it reminded them of this team, this story, and the support it symbolizes."

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Girls Basketball: Norwin is upbeat despite setback

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Keith Barnes profiles the Norwin girls basketball team.

2015 0327 Norwin GBasketball(Photo: A loss in the PIAA Class AAAA semi­fi­nals couldn't spoil Norwin's season, which included a celebration by Taylor Ingel, left, and Danielle McMaster after defeating Penn Hills in the WPIAL class AAAA championship. Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

"There is no question the Norwin girls basketball team reached heights of which the program had only previously dreamed.

That didn't change the disappointment the Knights felt after losing, 56-40, to eventual champion Cumberland Valley in the PIAA Class AAAA semifinals.

"That's a sound defensive team," Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. "They were physical, they were aggressive and they do everything you would like as a defensive team."

Norwin (24-4) could never find an answer for the stifling Eagles pressure defense. Cumberland Valley, led by Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year and Villanova recruit, junior Kelly Jekot, had two and three players pressuring the ball at every turn and the Knights could not pass the ball fast enough to break the trap and force the team into a looser zone."

 

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Baseball: Plum is ready to move forward

Written by Drew Karpen on .

Drew Karpen profiles the Plum baseball team.

2015 0327 Plum Baseball(Photo: In their fi­nal two games of Plum's south­ern trip, Alex Kiriloff (19) picked up five hits against two pitch­ers clock­ing in at 90 and 92 mph. John Heller/Post-Gazette)

"The weather is finally starting to warm up but some baseball teams just couldn't wait.

Plum is already off to a strong start after a 3-0 trip to Florida. The Mustangs beat Loyola-Blakefield (Md.), 3-2, Trinity Palmer, 12-1, and Berks Catholic, 12-2.

"We are returning all pitchers except for one," coach Carl Vollmer said. "We have a good core of hitters as well. We have a lot of quality baseball players.We have some position battles going on and figuring out some roles. You get a chance to see where guys are in their development."

The Mustangs are coming off a season where they lost in the Class AAAA WPIAL quarterfinals, an outcome that came short of their expectations."

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Softball: Veteran pitcher Smith to anchor Penn-Trafford

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Nicholas Tolomeo profiles Penn-Trafford pitcher Nicole Smith.

"It was the first day of practice and Penn-Trafford softball coach Monica Cox was preparing to break in four new infielders.

Without hesitation as the team hit the field for its first practice, everyone ran to their positions, even the new players.

"They just ran out there," Cox said. "They ran to where they knew they were going to be. They knew what was expected."

The new starters sat in the shadows behind seniors last year but if there was an injury, they were ready to fill in at a moment's notice."

 

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Boys Lacrosse: Finding replacements key to Gateway's success

Written by Marky Billson on .

Marky Billson profiles the Gateway boys lacrosse team.

"The Gateway lacrosse team is entering a new era in 2015.

This "new era" is not the result of a coaching or venue change. Rather, it stems from the graduation of 20 seniors who played for the club team for the first five years of their existence and the creation of a middle school program in the school district.

"We've always had that challenge of getting players developed in high school whereas other schools had feeder systems," said coach John Washington, the only head coach Gateway lacrosse has had during its five years of existence. "Now we have kids who understand the game and can catch and throw. This will put us a lot further along than we have in the past."

The program started in 2010 on the curiosity of Washington's son Jack, who is now attempting to play for the club team at Edinboro University. He saw some old lacrosse equipment in the family basement, collected by his father when he attended the Virginia Military Institute in the 1980s on a football scholarship, where John was the traveling roommate of future Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mark Stock."

 

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Track: Woodland Hills senior jumps to top in WPIAL

Written by Justin Criado on .

Justin Criado profiles Woodland Hills track standout Isaiah Brooks.

"Woodland Hills senior Isaiah Brooks is the reigning WPIAL Class AAA triple jump champion, but his hop to the top last year may not have happened if coach Paul Beard didn't get him on the long jump runway his freshman year, much to the chagrin of his then-runner-only pupil.

"He didn't want to do long jump. He said he was a runner, just the 400, 200 and 100 meter, and 4x100 and 4x400 relays," Beard recalled. "Those were the only events he wanted to do and I told him I wanted him to try the long jump.

"He was actually going to scratch himself out of it and I tried to kick him off the team if he did, but he went, jumped and took first place. Ever since that it just took off. His jumping, he just never stopped."

After that inaugural win in Latrobe, Brooks worked with throwing coach Rick Yeager, who studied up on jumping just to mentor Brooks. Not to mention, last year was Brooks' first year competing in the triple jump when he won the championship with a jump of 45 feet, 7¾ inches, while finishing as the WPIAL and PIAA runner-up in the long jump. He also finished as the WPIAL runner-up in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.34 seconds."

 

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Track: Hempfield's Holmberg has hurdles to clear

Written by Mike White on .

Mike White profiles Hempfield track standout Maddie Holmberg.

"Maddie Holmberg says her knee feels good. But it's her heart that will hurt most this spring.

Holmberg is a senior at Hempfield High School and a prolific long jumper and hurdler in track and field. She has the best marks in the history of the WPIAL in two events and has WPIAL and PIAA titles to defend.

But Holmberg is still recovering from knee surgery in October and might not compete at all this spring.

Even if Holmberg does compete, it will not be until late in the season and she won't be going down any long jump runways or going over any hurdles. If anything, she will run in the 100-meter dash and 400 relay."

 

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Boys Tennis: East Players To Watch

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Nathan Alford, Norwin, Sr.

Noah Cenkner, Mount Pleasant, Jr.

Nick Corona, Greensburg Central Catholic, Sr.

Josh Denham, Valley, Sr.

Mario Fannie, Latrobe, Sr.

Natoli Farber, Central Catholic, So.

Alex Ferraccio, Kiski Area, Jr.

Carson France, Plum, Sr.

Chad Kissell, Sr., Latrobe

Kevin Lee, Penn-Trafford, Fr.

Kyung Lee, Gateway, Jr.

Nick Linza, Burrell, Sr.

Luke Persin, Hempfield, Jr.

Max Pollack, Winchester Thurston, Sr.

Turner Price, Penn-Trafford, Fr.

Rochan Ramesh, Franklin Regional, Jr.

Mike Swenson, Riverview, Sr.

Sean Vannatta, Franklin Regional, Fr.

Nelson Zhukas, Woodland Hills, Sr.

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Boys Tennis: East Preview

Written by Keith Barnes on .

If there is one commonly held fact this year in boys tennis it’s that the WPIAL Class AAA singles title is Chad Kissell’s to lose.

It’s a hard thing to dispute. The Latrobe senior and Valparaiso recruit has come on to become the top-ranked senior in the WPIAL and No. 3 in the state by tennisrecruiting.net. In last season’s WPIAL singles tournament, he was the fourth seed and upset No. 1 Michael Santa-Lucia of Central Catholic, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) in the semifinals before losing to the Vikings defending champion Adam Blasinsky in the final.

As the top returning player from last year, and without an influx of top players, there is no one in Section 1-AAA that is in his class and he likely won’t get a decent match until the WPIAL semifinals.

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Alumni Update - Mike Maleski (Pitt-Greensburg)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

WAYNESBURG, Pa. -  A massive comeback rally by the Pitt-Greensburg baseball team to bring things even would usually mean extra innings to decide a winner.  But, due to darkness the Bobcats would have to settle for the ever so rare baseball tie with Waynesburg University.

 

The tie moves Pitt-Greensburg's record to 6-5-1 as Waynesburg now sits at 3-10-1.


Mike Maleski, a Plum graduate, led the Pitt-Greensburg offense on the day with a 3-4 performance that included a walk, single, double, triple, two RBI, and two runs scored.

 

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Alumni Update - Alexis Ryan (Allegheny)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

CLERMONT, Fla. –Behind sophomore Alexis Ryan's walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning, Allegheny closed out its 2015Ryan AC spring break excursion to Florida in fine fashion, as they defeated Keene State 4-3.


Ryan, a Penn-Trafford graduate, singled, which allowed Belle Mazurik to cross the plate with the winning run, capped off the comeback win for the Gators, who trailed 3-1 in the fourth inning before scoring the game's final three runs.

 

(photo courtesy of Allegheny College)

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Alumni Update - Chelsia Poole (Seton Hill)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

The track and field team returned home from spring break and took part in the CalU Early Bird Meet on Saturday afternoon.Poole SHU


On the women's side, Chelsia Poole, a Penn-Trafford graduate, won the Steeple Chase in 11:41.90, a PSAC Qualifying Mark.

 

(photo courtesy of Seton Hill University)

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Alumni Update - Chris Casagrande (Washington & Jefferson)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

CALIFORNIA, Pa. -- The Washington & Jefferson track & field programs opened the 2015 outdoor season atCasagrande WJ the Early Bird Invitational, hosted by California (Pa.).

 

The overall event was not scored on a team basis and all of the student-athletes competed as individuals.


Chris Casagrande, a Yough graduate, was the top finisher for the Presidents on the afternoon with a third-place showing in the 31-competitor field of the men's javelin with a distance of 50.48 meters (165 feet, seven inches).

 

(photo courtesy of Washington& Jefferson College)

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Boys Track: 2015 East Season Preview

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Hempfield and Gateway represented the WPIAL last year as they placed third and fourth at the Class AAA PIAA Championships. However, both will lose a number of top performers including: Max Adams, De'Lorian Day, Montae Nicholson, Cameron Gray and Jae'Len Means.

The Gators will return senior Aaron McCoullum who placed eighth in the 100-meter dash at WPIALs.

Hempfield will lean on junior Seth Spino who placed eighth in the 300-meter hurdles at WPIALs.

Central Catholic will lose WPIAL gold medalists David Henderson (400) and Jeff Van Kooten (1,600) , but do return junior Ronald George (200).

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Boys Track: 2015 East Athletes to Watch

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Lawson Monta (So.), Greensburg Salem, thrower
Francy Mata (Sr.), Mount Pleasant, thrower
Eric Kennedy (So.), Kiski Area, long-distance runner
Ronald George (Jr.), Central Catholic, sprinter
Nick Wagner (So.), Penn-Trafford, sprinter
Trey Quealy (Sr.), Norwin, sprinter
Brett White (Sr.), Franklin Regional, jumper
Bricen Garner (Jr.), Central Catholic, jumper
Landin Delany (Sr.), Winchester Thurston, long-distance runner
Will Loevner (Jr.), Winchester Thurston, long-distance runner
Jacob Susalla (So.), Plum, long-distance runner

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Girls Track: 2015 East Season Preview

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Hempfield will be the team to reckon with this year. The Spartans claimed their second consecutive Class AAA PIAA title and third consecutive WPIAL crown last year.

Sisters Maddie and Gabby Holmberg are the only remaining members of the PIAA winning 400-meter relay team. The Spartans will have to fill the void of Bridget Guy and Jasmine Jones.

Individually, Maddie grabbed gold in the 100 and 300-meter hurdles and the long jump. The senior took gold in the long jump and bronze in the 300-meter hurdles at PIAAs. Morgan DeFloria took third in the javelin at PIAAs. Lauren George took fifth in the triple jump at WPIALs.

Maddie can expect competition from Latrobe's Maddy Mueseler who finished second in the 300-meter hurdles. The junior took ninth at the state meet.

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Girls Track: 2015 East Athletes to Watch

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Maddie Holmberg (Sr.), Hempfield, hurdler
Maddy Muesseler (Jr.), Latrobe, hurdler
Kelsey Plecenik (Sr.), Norwin, pole vault
Aiyanna Crawford (Jr.), Gateway, sprinter
Ameriah Walters (Sr.), Valley, sprinter
Lauren George (Sr.), Hempfield, jumper
Kristen Greggerson (So.), Gateway, thrower
Morgan DeFloria (Jr.), Hempfield, thrower
Eileen Brady (Jr.) Mount Pleasant, pole vault
Julia Howard (Jr.), Greensburg Salem, jumper
Bria McMahon (Jr.), Franklin Regional, long-distance runner
Ashley Amato (Jr.) Plum, sprinter, hurdler

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Baseball: 2015 East Season Preview

Written by Brad Everett on .

Class AAAA
Section 3 appeared to be perhaps the best section in Class AAAA last season, but all three playoff teams - Hempfield, Norwin and Penn-Trafford - lost in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. All loss several key players to graduation. Norwin junior infielder Nick Amendola is one of the top players in Class AAAA. Penn-Trafford is led by senior infielders Shane Churma and Luke Smeltz, and senior catcher Scott Koscho. Hempfield features senior infielder Noah Beasley. Central Catholic (Section 3) and Plum (Section 4) are also section title contenders. Central Catholic is led by senior catcher Dom Derenzo - an Oklahoma recruit - and Plum features senior pitcher Alex Kirilloff, who went 5-1 on the mound and knocked in 23 runs a season ago.

Class AAA
No Class AAA East teams qualified for the WPIAL playoffs last season. Only four East teams - Derry, Greensburg Salem, Mount Pleasant and Yough - compete in the class.

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Baseball: 2015 East Players to Watch

Written by Brad Everett on .

Here are some East area players to keep an eye on this season.

Nick Amendola - Norwin - IF – Jr.
Luke Smeltz - Penn-Trafford - IF - Sr.
Shane Churma – Penn-Trafford – IF – Sr.
Scott Koscho – Penn-Trafford – C – Sr.
Noah Beasley – Hempfield – IF – Sr.
Dom Derenzo - Central Catholic - C - Sr.
Pat Ferguson - Central Catholic - IF - Jr.
Alex Kirilloff - Plum - OF - Jr.
Brian Albert – Plum – IF – Sr.
Mason Murray-McDonough - Penn Hills - OF – Sr.