Fort LeBoeuf senior Maria Peluso has been a big part of the Bison’s success during the past few years.
The dominant outside hitter has racked up team highs in kills (321), aces (71) and blocks (34) this season and is second with 202 digs.
Peluso collected 20 kills and 12 digs to help LeBoeuf, the Region 5 champion, win the District 10 Class AA championship against powerhouse Meadville Saturday.
She then had nine kills and 12 digs in a sweep of Ambridge in the first round of the PIAA playoffs Tuesday night.
The Fort LeBoeuf girls volleyball team showed it’s once again a powerhouse by winning its own 15-team Fort LeBoeuf Invitational Saturday.
The Bison beat archrival General McLane 25-19, 25-20 in the finals.
Junior Jolene Young had nine kills, and Maria Peluso and Amanda Krolczyk had seven kills apiece as the Bison rolled. Abby Rose added 25 assists and five digs.
McLane beat Harbor Creek in the semifinals, while LeBoeuf beat Cochranton. Harbor Creek eliminated a strong Conneaut team to reach the semis.
– In another big area tournament, North East opened the season in strong fashion by winning the Cambridge Springs Invitational title.
North East finished 7-1 in pool play before beating Hickory 25-20 in the semifinals and then topping Saegertown 25-21, 23-25, 15-7 in the title match.
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
Fort LeBoeuf Bison
Coach (season, record): LeAnn Byer (7th season, 84-6)
2011 overall record: 23-2
2011 region record (place): 16-0 (champion)
2011 playoff results: Fort LeBoeuf went 3-0 in District 10 pool play before sweeping Slippery Rock and General McLane to win the District 10 Class AA championship. LeBoeuf then won its first PIAA match in three sets over Bradford before going 1-2 in PIAA pool play.
Top players lost: Lindsey Bean, Cassie Pietkiewicz
Top returning players: Maria Peluso, Allania Banta, Jolene Young, Abby Rose, Larissa Cass
Assistant coach: Robert Cierniakoski
Outlook: Fort LeBoeuf finally broke through last fall and not only beat rival General McLane, but the Bison won the District 10 Class AA championship and advanced to PIAA pool play. LeBoeuf graduated two leaders but will have most of its team back. Lindsay Bean and Cassie Pietkiewcz are gone after terrific senior seasons. Bean was named to the all-district team after being voted to the all-region first team and the Region 5 Player of the Year as a middle hitter. The Bison return five starters, including Maria Peluso, Jolene Young, Abby Rose, Allania Banta and Larissa Cass. Peluso was voted to the first team at outside hitter, while Banta was a second-team libero. Peluso and Banta are receiving plenty of interest from Division II schools. Young (middle hitter) and Rose (setter) were second-team selections as sophomores. LeBoeuf also has a strong group of underclassmen and could be right in the mix for the region and district titles again this fall. The Bison have talent and experience and can be a dangerous team in the new PIAA format. There is no more pool play at the PIAA tournament and LeBoeuf is a tough out in a best-of-five match. LeBoeuf’s biggest matches of the season will once again be against rival General McLane on Sept. 18 and Oct. 11. An interesting development happened in the offseason with Conneaut consolidating. The Bison could run into the Eagles for the D-10 title. Conneaut will be loaded with former Linesville players who won a state title in Class A last fall.
11 at Iroquois* 7:30
13 at Seneca* 7:30
18 General McLane* 7:30
20 North Eeast* 7:30
25 Fairview* 7:30
27 at Northwestern* 7:30
2 Girard* 7:30
4 Iroquois* 7:30
9 Seneca* 7:30
11 at General McLane* 7:30
16 at North East* 7:30
18 at Fairview* 7:30
23 Northwestern* 7:30
25 at Girard* 7:30
*Region 5 matches
Later today: Franklin
– Tom Reisenweber
Fort LeBoeuf boys volleyball coach Robert Cierniakoski is trying to build a program from the ground up in Waterford. Andrew Hicks could be a key to progress over the next few years.
Hicks, a freshman, had a breakout season by recording 61 kills this spring.
Hicks is an integral part of a young Bison team that is building for the future. He showed his potential by earning a spot on the Tool City club team based in Meadville. That’s quite an achievement for the LeBoeuf middle hitter considering the Tool City summer club team mainly consists of players from the volleyball hotbed of Crawford County.
Fort LeBoeuf, Linesville and Maplewood are representing District 10 today in PIAA girls volleyball pool play at Central York High School. LeBoeuf is competing in Class AA, while Linesville and Maplewood are in Class A.
The goal for each is to win at least two of their three matches in pool play in order to advance to Saturday’s state semifinals.
We’ll post updates today as they become available:
8:30 p.m.: According to our blog source in York, Fort LeBoeuf falls short of the PIAA semifinals with a 25-22 loss to Freeport in a pool tiebreaker. Freeport will play Susquehannock for a spot in the semifinals. After a 3-0 sweep of the first match against Freeport, LeBoeuf lost 3-0 to Susquehannock and 2-1 to West Allegheny before falling to Freeport. Still, what a year for the Bison.
8 p.m.: We’re still waiting on word from the tiebreaker matches. What a long, exhausting day for the Bison.
7:27 p.m.: Fort LeBoeuf lost, but Freeport beat Susquehannock. Apparently, that means that LeBoeuf will be involved in a match vs. Freeport. The winner of that will play Susquehannock to see which team advances to the semifinals. More details to follow. It’s a crazy pool.
5:30 p.m. – Maplewood and Linesvile move on to the PIAA Class A semifinals. The Tigers swept Sacred Heart 25-19, 25-11, 25-7 and Linesville beat North Star 25-14, 25-13, 25-13. Linesville and Maplewood will meet in the semifinals Saturday at 8 p.m. with the winner playing for a state title at 1:30 p.m.
2:25 p.m.: Bad news from York. Susquehannock swept Fort LeBoeuf 25-19, 25-19, 25-18 in the second match of pool play. That means the Bison are 1-1 with a match coming against a very tough West Allegheny team at 4:40 p.m. It’s unclear what LeBoeuf must do to advance, but Susquehannock’s sweep probably means that LeBoeuf needs a win and Freeport must beat Susquehannock for the Bisons to have a chance.
2:08 p.m.: We should be getting results shortly from LeBoeuf’s second Class AA pool play match. The Bison, who swept their first-round match, are playing District 3 champion Susquehannock, which lost its opening match to West Allegheny 25-22, 27-25, 25-19. If the Bison were to sweep Susquehannock, they would almost certainly advance to Saturday’s semifinals.
1:45 p.m: Good news for Linesville and Maplewood in their second games of pool play. Linesville beats District 6 champion Bishop Guilfoyle 25-20, 23-25, 25-18 to move to 2-0 in Pool A. They probably have locked up a berth in semifinals, but it’s not certain.
Two other teams, North Star and Bishop Guilfoyle, are 1-1. Linesville will play North Star in its final match of pool play. If the Lions win, they’re definitely in. If they lose, there could be three 2-1 teams in the bracket, leaving which two advance to a tiebreaker on sets.
Maplewood kept alive its chances in Pool B by beating District 1 champion Nativity BVM 25-23, 24-26, 25-15. That moved the Tigers to 1-1 in pool play. They could earn a berth in the semifinals if they beat Sacred Heart in the pool finale at 3:20 p.m. Sacred Heart is 0-2. There still is a chance that three teams could tie at 2-1, leaving the two advancing teams to a tiebreaker.
Fort LeBoeuf Bisons
Coach (season): Leann Byer (6th season)
2010 overall record: 20-7
2010 region record (place): 14-2 (second)
2010 playoff results: District 10 runner-up. Qualified for the PIAA tournament, made it through the first round of pool play but was eliminated in the second set of PIAA pool play.
Top player lost: Taylor Welch, Jordan Rogers
Top returning players: Lindsay Bean, Cassie Pietkiewicz, Maria Peluso
Assistant coach: Rob Cierniakoski
Outlook: Fort LeBoeuf put together an impressive run in the District 10 playoffs by making the championship match. The Bisons took it one step further and advanced past the first set of PIAA pool play and earn a trip to State College. LeBoeuf has an experience team back but will have to replace all-state, all-district and all-region selection Taylor Welch. The Bisons also lost all-region first-team selection Jordan Rogers. LeBoeuf returns six starters, including Lindsay Bean, an all-region second-team pick. Also back are Cassie Pietkiewicz and Maria Peluso. Peluso led the Bisons in kills last season and is a big-time player for LeBoeuf. A big key for LeBoeuf will be to play hard and avoid complacency. The Bisons will once again be one of the top teams in District 10 but they have to keep playing hard all season. LeBoeuf could be in the mix for the Region 4 title and the D-10 title this season as long as the Bisons can stay healthy and fill in some holes left by graduation. LeBoeuf’s biggest matches of the season will come Sept. 29 and Oct. 27 against rival General McLane.
6 Iroquois* 7:15
8 at Girard* 7:15
13 Seneca* 7:15
15 at Northwestern* 7:15
19 Corry* 7:15
20 at North East* 7:15
27 at Fairview* 7:15
29 General McLane* 7:15
4 at Iroquois* 7:15
6 Girard* 7:15
11 at Seneca* 7:15
13 Northwestern* 7:15
17 at Corry* 7:15
18 North East* 7:15
25 Fairview* 7:15
27 at General McLane* 7:15
Sunday: Franklin, General McLane
– Tom Reisenweber