East Xtra: Obama claims second volleyball title

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The City League girls volleyball championship match provided a great family moment for Obama Academy coach Pete Vitti and his wife.

"It was really special to see my daughter, Anna, win her fourth City League title," said Vitti, after watching Obama claim its second consecutive title. "It made me think back to her freshman year at Schenley. I remember her taking charge in that match and calling for the ball. She's come a long way since then."

Having a second daughter on the team made it an even more memorable moment.

"This is Rosa's second year with the team and her second title," Vitti said. "It's a great feeling to celebrate a title with your family."

The City League tournament took place last Thursday at Brashear High School. Obama opened the tournament with a 25-20, 25-9 semifinal win against Carrick. Allderdice posted a 25-17, 28-26 win against Brashear in the other semifinal.

The Eagles then faced Allderdice in the winners bracket final and posted a 25-15, 25-17 win.

"That win put us in the driver's seat," said Vitti, referring to the fact that the consolation bracket winner would have to beat Obama twice in the final round. "It's very hard to come back and beat a team twice."

Brashear lost in the semifinals to Allderdice, but met them again in the consolation final, and the Bulls pulled the upset by posting 25-23 victories in both sets.

"We were all surprised to see Brashear upset Allderdice," said Vitti, after Obama dominated the championship match, 25-15, 25-8. "But I think that match took a lot out of them."

The title match victory gave Obama its second title in a row and Vitti his fifth consecutive title, as he claimed the three previous titles at Schenley.

"The girls have done a great job all year," Vitti said. "They worked so hard. In fact, most of them played on my Renaissance club team."

Anna and Rosa Vitti are both 5 feet 5 and both play the role of setter/outside hitter.

"Both hit in the front row, then set when they move to the back row," coach Vitti said. "We used the same setup last year."

Gabby Egler, a 5-10 junior middle hitter, is a three-year starter.

"Gabby led us in the championship match with 12 kills," Vitti said. "She leads our team in kills and blocks for the season."

Egler and the Vitti sisters make up the nucleus of Obama's squad.

"I knew with those three coming back that we had a legitimate shot of defending the City League title," Vitti said. "All three are good in all phases of the game."

Other returning letter-winners for the Eagles are 5-10 sophomore middle hitter Hannah Williams, 5-2 junior opposite Alex Bowens and 5-5 senior serving specialist Maya McCray.

Vitti uses a 10-player rotation, which includes four newcomers to the varsity, 6-0 sophomore opposite Georgia Bubash, 5-1 freshman libero Kennedy Bowens, 5-10 junior opposite Kyra Woodworth and 5-1 sophomore serving specialist Sabria Mitchell.

Obama Academy has qualified for the PIAA championship tournament, which begins Saturday with a sub-regional at Elk County Catholic High School. The Eagles will compete with the champions from District 9 and 5, with one team advancing to the PIAA Class AA first round.

"We're not looking forward to the 21/2 hour drive on Saturday," Vitti said.

"We've played a couple District 5 teams in tournaments this year and did very well, so I think we can be very competitive in the sub-regional."

don't think you can stop someone like him."

How Bush performs will be one of the keys to Friday's 7:30 p.m. matchup at Burrell that pits two undefeated squads from the WPIAL Class AA Allegheny Conference. Burrell (3-0, 2-0) is coming off a 28-22 win Saturday against Summit Academy, while Shady Side (3-0, 3-0) took down Valley, 16-6.

Another story line will be how effective the Indians two-headed running back monster of Jarred Brevins and Dennis Briggs will be. The two juniors rushed for a combined 415 yards in the team's first two games, but both missed the game against Valley while nursing injuries. Havern expects both to be able to go Friday.

"It's a long season and you have to look at the long-term benefits of sitting out a week," Havern said. "If we were playing for the world championship [last Friday], I think they could have played."

In their absence, quarterback Matt Grenato stepped up.

Coming into the Valley game, Grenato had passed for 105 yards and rushed for 48 yards. On Friday, he passed for 116 yards and rushed for 103. He also scored both of Shady Side's touchdowns in the game and added 10 tackles on defense.

"They're a sound football team," Horwatt said. "They have a good run-pass mix. The big thing for us is just to not get too caught up in the hype surrounding the game. We need to play Burrell football."

Only Freeport stands with the Indians and Bucs as undefeated teams in the Allegheny Conference, so Friday's game could go a long way in determining the league's champion and a good seed in the WPIAL tournament. But Havern said his team can't look that far ahead.

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