East Xtra: Norwin, Penn-Trafford play for title

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The Class AAA Section 1 girls volleyball title will be on the line tonight when Norwin plays host to Penn-Trafford.

Both teams enter the showdown with 10-1 records.

Norwin's only loss came in the opening week of section play, as the Knights dropped a 3-1 decision to Hempfield Area on Sept. 5. Since then, the Knights have posted eight consecutive section victories, including a 3-1 win Sept. 24 at Penn-Trafford.

"Our first match with Penn-Trafford was a back-and-forth match that could have gone either way," Norwin coach Mary Ellen Ferragonio said. "We were fortunate to come out on top. I'm expecting the rematch to be as close, if not closer. And I wouldn't be surprised to see it go to five games."

The winner walks away with the section title, which is something that hasn't happened at Norwin since 2006.

"Our goal every year is to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs and win a section title," Ferragonio said. "We qualified for the playoffs last year. This year, we're hoping to take the next step and win a section title. For that to happen, we must beat Penn-Trafford again."

Members of the WPIAL volleyball committee will also be watching tonight's showdown. Norwin enters the match ranked No. 6 in the WPIAL in Class AAA, while Penn-Trafford is No. 7.

"I don't know much about how the committee seeds the brackets, but it's obvious that the winner of tonight's match will benefit," Ferragonio said.

Ferragonio uses as many as 11 players in every match, most of them were either a starter or letter-winner on last year's squad.

"I like to use a lot of players, and my hitters usually play more than one position on the front line," Ferragonio said. "We move them around to take advantage of certain match-ups."

Norwin's lineup features two players who were recognized on last year's All-Section 1 team.

Catherine Ferragonio, a 5-foot-9 senior outside hitter and the coach's daughter, was voted to the first team, while Hannah Cubarney, a 5-9 senior outside/middle hitter, was a second-team selection.

"Catherine and Hannah are both three-year starters," Ferragonio said. "Hanna Evanchak is also a three-year starter."

Evanchak is a 5-9 senior who plays all three front-line positions.

Ferragonio, Cubarney and Evanchak are three of seven seniors on the varsity roster. The others are 5-5 senior outside hitter Alexis Boytim, 5-9 senior outside/middle hitter Brittany Jones, 5-6 defensive specialist Alexis Petach and 5-8 setter Lindsay Smith.

Boytim, Petach and Jones are two-year letter-winners. Smith sustained a torn ACL during team camp over the summer and was lost for the season.

With Smith out of the picture, Ferragonio called on her other daughter, Maria, to take over the setting duties. Maria Ferragonio is a 5-9 sophomore.

"Maria had been playing a lot of club ball, so I had no concerns about what she could do." said Ferragonio, who is also a Norwin alumna. "It's been a lot of fun having Catherine and Maria on the team. I already coached my oldest daughter, Rebecca, who is now a volunteer assistant for me."

The juniors in Norwin's starting rotation are 5-7 outside hitter/defensive specialist Reilly Parker, 6-2 middle/right-side hitter Laura Buchanan, 5-7 outside hitter/defensive specialist Molly Parker and 5-10 outside hitter Lauren Dolney. The Parkers are twins and both were starters last year. Buchanan is also a returning starter.

The regular season concludes Saturday with Norwin's annual tournament.

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First Published October 16, 2013 8:00 PM


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