For the past several seasons, Pittston Area volleyball coach Dani McAndrew has been dealing with a large team by herself. That didn’t allow for much one-on-one time with her players.
In 2014, the Patriots benefitted from just two wins. Things are expected to take a turn heading into the 2015 season. McAndrew’s squad is a little smaller, and the school has allowed her to take on an assistant coach.
“We are expecting more wins this year,” McAndrew said. “We have been working hard this summer by attending camps and running an intramural program.”
The Patriots will bring on coaches Johanna Rehill and Eric Sperazza to help get her kids to the next level.
“Our numbers are lower this year and the school has graced us with an additional coach,” McAndrew said. “I think with the extra help and the more time for one-on-one help we will be very successful.”
Pittston Area has three seniors with experience heading into the season. Marley O’Brien, Anna McDermott and Megan Gerrity have all been staples in the Patriot lineup for a few years now.
O’Brien averaged seven kills and 13 service points last season for the Patriots. McAndrew labels O’Brien the team’s best hitter and all-around player.
“Marley has been the back bone of our team since she started as a multi-sport athlete her sophomore year,” she said. “She’s a great team captain.”
McDermott averaged 17.8 digs per game and covers the most ground out of anyone on the team, McAndrew said. She considers Gerrity one of the best back row players on the team and a consistent server.
Setting up O’Brien for those kills will be junior setter Kristen Durling.
“(She) has increased incrementally each year,” McAndrew said. “She has great hands and speed when tracking down the ball. She is also a great all-around player and is on track for her best season yet.”
While Pittston Area’s success may rely on those returning players, the Patriots may also count on some younger players to help get over the hump.
O’Brien’s sister, freshman Emily O’Brien, has the tools to be as good as the senior, McAndrew said. Sophomore hitter Portia Weidlich and sophomore setter Liz Charney will also be staples in the starting lineup.
As far as Wyoming Valley Conference play goes, the coach believes there are three tiers of teams heading into the season. There are teams that will not lose or have one loss, the middle-of-the-pack teams, and then the others.
“We keep falling into the others category,” McAndrew said, “but there is not doubt we should reach another tier this year.”
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick