The girls volleyball season opened in Waterford today with 15 teams competing in the Fort LeBoeuf Invitational. The tournament is an all-day event, and the champion won”t be determined until late this evening. Here are some observations from early pool play:
1. Conneaut is going to be a force in its first season. The school was formed when Linesville, Conneaut Lake and Conneaut Valley merged during the offseason. Linesville, of course, was the unbeaten PIAA Class A champion a year ago, so Conneaut has quite a foundation.
The new Eagles, coached by former Linesville coach Tim Schleicher, looked like title contenders in District 10 and the PIAA when they rolled through three pool-play sets this morning. Outside hitter Challen Litwiler, who starred as a sophomore last season, is every bit as good as advertised. She uses power and excellent timing to dominate up front. The Eagles have plenty of talent to go with Litwiler, too.
2. Fort LeBoeuf could be even better than 2011 when the Bison won the District 10 Class AA championship. The Bison appear to have no weaknesses in their lineup. Outside hitter Maria Peluso and libero Allania Banta are particularly strong. Fort LeBoeuf is a skilled serving team that works as a unit. Banta anchors a very good defense.
3. Look out for Mercyhurst Prep. The Lakers’ front line is powerful and can cause trouble for smaller teams. Lauren Kenny and Heather D’Andrea are excellent hitters. The Lakers showed that power game early against Conneaut when they rolled to an 8-3 lead, but the Eagles eventually rallied to win the set. Mercyhurst beat Girard and Sheffield in pool play. I earlier reported that the Lakers beat General McLane during pool play. Mercyhurst did not beat McLane, which was in a different pool.
Mercyhurst could be a threat in Region 6, even though McDowell is the preseason favorite.
4. Harbor Creek will be another contender in Region 6. The Huskies’ only pool-play loss came to LeBoeuf, and they were sharp in their two wins. HC’s Taylor Palowski has a strong all-around game.
I’ll be interested to find out which team wins tonight. I’m anticipating a Conneaut-Fort LeBoeuf title match, and that would be quite a showdown. I’m not sure who I would pick in that matchup.
Be sure to look for the District 10 girls volleyball preview in the Sept. 12 Varsity print edition.
– Jeff Kirik, sports editor