PG South: Young Warriors make playoffs
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Elizabeth Forward girls' volleyball coach Lindsay Konias was a little surprised to see just how young her team was.
"I never really thought about it that way," said Konias, when asked how many letter-winners she had returning. "I can't believe that we have only two lettermen back."
Add to that the fact that Elizabeth Forward has only two seniors on its varsity squad and it's easy to see that Konias entered the season with a squad that had limited experience.
"We do have a very young team," Konias said. "But these kids have experienced success before, just not at the varsity level.
"Our junior varsity team was undefeated last year and are again unbeaten. The kids on last year's JV team have moved up to the varsity and stepped in for the graduating seniors."
The success has continued this season for Konias and her Elizabeth Forward squad. The Warriors entered Tuesday's Section 5-AA finale against South Allegheny with a 7-2 record, which is good enough to earn the team a second-place finish and a WPIAL Class AA playoff berth.
"This is my fourth season at Elizabeth Forward and we've qualified for the playoffs all four years," Konias said. "I also qualified for the playoffs in my only year as head coach at Ringgold [prior to accepting the Elizabeth Forward position]."
Elizabeth Forward also has a 4-1 record in non-section matches. The Warriors defeated Yough, Uniontown, Jefferson-Morgan and Keystone Oaks, all in three games. Their only non-section setback was to Laurel Highlands, in a four-set match.
"I expect us to play our best in the playoffs," Konias said. "Our goal is to make it past the first round."
Elizabeth Forward is not listed in the WPIAL Class AA rankings, but Konias feels the Warriors have a legitimate shot of advancing to the final four.
"I don't see a reason why we can't make it to the quarterfinals," Konias said. "If we play our best, we have a chance."
Elizabeth Foward has been inconsistent in tournament competition.
"We made it to the playoff round at the Shaler tournament, but did not place," Konias said. "We didn't do as well at the Baldwin tournament. We missed the playoff round by one win."
Elizabeth Forward also played host to its own 12-team tournament.
"We made it to the semifinals before losing to Ringgold," Konias said. "We've played well at times, but have also had times where we've played as six individuals instead of playing as a team. We need everybody to play as one team."
Elizabeth Forward concludes the regular season with the Big Eight Tournament, which will take place Saturday at Chartiers Valley. Also entered in the one-day tournament are: Belle Vernon Area, Chartiers Valley, McGuffey, South Park, West Mifflin Area, Thomas Jefferson and Trinity.
"I'm really looking forward to this tournament because all the teams are evenly matched," Konias said. "It will be a good tuneup for the playoffs."
Konias uses an 11-player rotation, which includes the two returning letter-winners, Kristen Sroka and Catherine Waters. Sroka is a 5-foot-9 senior outside hitter. Waters is a 5-11 junior middle hitter.
"Catherine is our No. 1 hitter and blocker," Konias said. "Kristen is our most consistent player and No. 2 hitter. Both are returning starters. We built the team around them."
The only other senior is Renee Fillippelli, a 5-2 defensive specialist.
"Renee plays with a lot of heart," Konias said. "She's our leader in the back row."
Nicole Lapinsky, a 5-6 junior, has taken over the setting duties, but Hannah Saunders, a 5-6 freshman, has also seen playing time at that spot.
"We've been doing a little experimenting at setter, but Nicole is still the main setter," Konias said.
The other players in Elizabeth Forward's starting rotation are 5-11 sophomore right-side hitter Rachel Fournier, 5-5 junior setter/defensive specialist Kelly Goettel, 5-7 junior outside hitter Alex Bollman, 5-3 sophomore defensive specialist Katie Shinavski, 5-3 junior defensive specialist Hannah Ulmer and 6-0 freshman middle hitter Corri Waters.
First Published October 21, 2010 12:00 am