WVC quartet named to all-state volleyball team

Four Wyoming Valley Conference volleyball players have been named to the 2006 Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Class AA All-State team.
Nanticoke Area’s Sarah Acker and Aly Byorick, Bishop Hoban’s Allie Downing and Crestwood’s Jade Dudley have received the honor.
Acker, a senior middle hitter recorded 295 kills and 99 blocks this season. She’s accepted a full scholarship to play basketball at St. Joseph’s University.
Byorick, a senior outside hitter, had 256 kills and 116 digs. She’ll be attending Xavier University on a basketball scholarship in the fall.
Downing finished her season with 176 kills and 152 service points. She was named Player of the Year by The Citizens Voice after leading the Argents a District 2 title and a spot in the to the state tournament.
Dudley, a senior outside hitter, carried the Comets to a berth in the district final. Along the way she tallied 273 kills and 75 service points.

Girls Volleyball
Byorick takes volleyball spotlight
Two-sport star leads East squad to 3-2 victory in WVC girls volleyball all-star game
By vrose@leader.net

Aly Byorick is best known for her basketball prowess. But the Greater Nanticoke Area senior also is an outstanding volleyball player, and she closed out her high school career on a high note Sunday night.
The 5-foot-11 middle hitter had 12 kills and five blocks to lead the East team to a 3-2 victory over the West squad in the Wyoming Valley Conference girls volleyball all-star game at Nanticoke High School. The scores were 26-24, 11-25, 20-25, 25-27, 25-18.
Even though the game was just for fun, both sides played to win. And the fiercely competitive Byorick played like there was a championship on the line. She took a couple of hard hits to the floor while playing defense, and had three in-your-face blocks against Crestwood star Jade Dudley.
“I guess I was in the right place at the right time,” Byorick said. “They were wicked shots. My hands not only were stinging—they were vibrating.”
Byorick said the East team had a point to prove.
“The other team was stacked,” she said, referring to the fact that the West squad consisted in part of players from league champion Bishop Hoban, Crestwood, Dallas and Lake-Lehman. “We wanted to prove we could play with them, and we beat them.”
Byorick teamed up with 6-4 Nanticoke teammate Sarah Acker to dominate play at the net. The East squad also got an impressive effort from Delaware Valley’s Samantha Morgan, who had five kills and two aces in game 5.
“I loved playing with different girls,” said Morgan, who led Delaware Valley to the District 2 3A championship. “This game proved there are a lot of talented players in our league.”
The West team was led by Dallas’ Theresa Heintz, who time-after-time hit some rocket shots. The 5-9 middle hitter wound up with 11 kills and two blocks. Bishop Hoban’s Allie Downing added 10 kills and six assists, while Dudley had six kills.
“Everytime I hit, I put all my force behind it,” said Heintz. “I’ve been told that I’m small, but I can hit really hard. I can jump really high, which helps a lot.”
The high-flying Heintz has one of the best vertical leaps in the WVC, which enables her to play above the net.
Heintz said Byorick and Acker proved to be the difference for the East. “They really work well together.”
Lake-Lehman’s Marissa Harrison, who had eight kills for the West, was happy to get the chance to team up with some players that were arch-enemies during regular season play.
“It was cool because I wound up getting sets from hitters Jade (Dudley) and Allie (Downing),” Harrison said “That doesn’t normally happen, but I thought we played well together.”
The true spirit of the all-star game was punctuated during game 1, when Tunkhannock’s Danielle Gilroy took a tumble to the floor, and was helped up by East teammate Byorick.
“We played hard against each other (for three years),” Gilroy said. “It was pretty intense. Then tonight, you find out they’re funny and nice. Playing on the same team with her (Byorick) is definitely better than getting blocked.”

Girls Volleyball
Acker becomes ‘Great Wall’
By vrose@timesleader.com

Sarah Acker made it look easy, and her teammates followed suit. The 6-foot-4 Greater Nanticoke middle hitter blocked 10 shots and scored at will to lead the District 2 girls volleyball all-stars to a 3-0 victory over the District 4 all-stars on Saturday night at Wyalusing High School.
The scores were 25-15, 26-24, 25-21.
“It was a lot of fun,” Acker said. “It was different because I got a chance to make some new friends. Our team consisted mostly of players who hated each other in regular season competition, but we got along well.”
Acker’s mere presence at the net caused major problems for the District 4 team, which was much smaller. Defensively, she probably resembled the Great Wall of China in the eyes of the District 4 players. Offensively, the ambidextrous Acker consistently posted spikes by tipping the ball over the net with her left hand.
“Their size really hurt us,” said District 4’s Tesh Kaczynak, from Mansfield High School. “We didn’t have anyone to match up with their big girls. No. 2’s (Acker) blocking made it very tough for us to score.”
The District 2 team was comprised entirely of players from the Wyoming Valley Conference. It also got superb front line play from Crestwood’s Jade Dudley and Nanticoke’s Aly Byorick. Dudley had several key slams, including a pair of game-winning blasts. The 5-11 Byorick came up with five blocks, and also posted some timely spikes.
For Byorick, the match was enjoyable. But she’s so competitive, her first priority was winning.
“I think everybody on our team had fun, but we also wanted to win,” Byorick said. “Even though our league isn’t known as a statewide volleyball power, I think we showed that there are a lot of talented players in our conference.”
District 2 also got an excellent performance from Dallas middle hitter Theresa Heintz. She played above the net on offense, and her outstanding service play helped the team rally from a four-point deficit to capture game 2.
“My serving picked up,” said Heintz. “When I get on a roll, I keep going. It’s weird—we played well as a team, even though we really didn’t know each other.”
The District 2 squad also included Bishop Hoban’s Allie Downing, Dallas’ Vicki Piontkowski, Hazleton Area’s Sara Polchin and Lake-Lehman’s Marissa Harrison.

Trojan Volleyball loses heartbreaker to Bishop Hoban ... Ends season 15-5 ... Congratulations on a Great Season!
Nanticoke (15-5) got spectacular performances from bookend stars Sarah Acker and Aly Byorick. Acker turned in monster effort, posting 14 kills, 13 blocks and eight digs. Byorick also had a great match, notching 15 kills, six blocks and 10 digs.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, their star players didn’t get a lot of offensive support from their teammates.
“Acker played a great game,” said Bishop Hoban freshman Monica Wignot, who was stuffed several times by the 6-4 Acker. “She seemed to be everywhere. She really stepped it up.”
Acker pretty much did as she pleased on both sides of the net, and her hitting was virtually unstoppable. Byorick was tough in the clutch, especially in game 3 when she had three straight kills to help the Trojans prevail 25-21.
But Hoban simply had too much offensive firepower. Allie Downing had 13 kills, while Kate O’Malia and Wignot added 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Setter Maggie McCormick also came up big – posting 40 assists and 13 service points.
“We gave it everything we had, but they were too deep in talent and fundamentals,” Byorick said.10/31/2006
Knights no match for Trojans
Nanticoke Area storms into D2-2A semis and will face top-seeded Hoban today.
By vrose@leader.net

Greater Nanticoke Area star Sarah Acker wasted no time setting the tone in Monday’s match against Lake-Lehman. On the opening play, the 6-foot-4 senior middle hitter hit a wicked slam that knocked a Black Knight defender off her feet.
Acker teamed up with bookend Aly Byorick to lead the Trojans to a 3-0 victory over Lake-Lehman in opening round play of the District 2 Class 2A playoffs at Bishop Hoban High School. The scores were 25-15, 25-20, 25-22.
No. 4 seed Nanticoke (15-4) will face No. 1 seed Bishop Hoban (18-1) today at 6:30 in semifinal action.
“We played really well,” said Acker, who led the Trojans with 15 kills and five blocks. “Our defense was excellent. We went after every ball and we came up with a lot of digs.”
Acker is virtually unstoppable at the net when she gets a decent set. That’s something the Trojans didn’t take advantage of on several occasions during the regular season. However, on Monday, they made a concerted effort to get her the ball.
“We just tried to get our passing and setting going,” Acker said. “We played with intensity and our hitting was really good.”
Byorick was equally as impressive. The 5-foot-11 senior middle hitter had 12 kills and four blocks, and hit the floor several times diving after loose balls.
“We put it all together today, and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Byorick said. “You want to play your best at playoff time. We played well as a team.”
Nanticoke cruised to a 25-15 win in game 1 behind Acker’s hitting and blocking. The Trojans benefited from spectacular plays by Acker and Byorick to edge Lake-Lehman, 25-20, in game 2.
Acker, who is ambidextrous, came up with an eye-popping kill that gave Bishop Hoban an 11-7 lead. While almost falling out of bounds chasing the ball, she swatted it back over the net left-handed and it fell between two defenders.
Not to be outdone, Byorick scored on a riveting block against Lake-Lehman’s Marissa Harrison, giving Nanticoke a 15-13 led.
The Black Knights pushed the Trojans to the limit in game 3, taking a 22-21 lead on a Megan Devine kill. However, Nanticoke went on a 4-0 run, sealing the deal on an Acker block.
Harrison paced Lake-Lehman with 12 kills and seven service points. The Black Knights were without senior middle hitter Rebekah Williams, who did not play for disciplinary reasons.
Byorick is confident Nanticoke can avenge its 3-0 loss to Bishop Hoban during the regular season. “If we play like this, we can beat anybody.”

Acker leads Trojan rally past Tigers

By vrose@leader.net

After rolling to three easy victories, the Greater Nanticoke Area girls volleyball team was ripe for an upset, and Tunkhannock almost pulled it off Thursday.
The Tigers won the first two games and held a six-point lead late in the third game. However, Tunkhannock was unable to contain Sarah Acker.
Acker, a 6-foot-4 senior middle hitter, took charge down the stretch to lead the Trojans to a 3-2 victory. The scores were 19-25, 22-25, 25-20, 26-24, 15-7. She wound up with 16 kills and 11 blocks, and simply dominated the fifth game.
“I felt like I had to step it up,” said Acker, who had two kills and two blocks early in game five that put Nanticoke (4-0) in charge. “I had some nice blocks. I was just trying to get something done. In the fifth game, I felt like I was gliding in the air.”
The Trojans also got a superb effort from senior outside hitter Aly Byorick, who had 11 kills, six blocks and nine digs.
“We needed a tough match like this,” said Byorick. “We didn’t play well in the early going. I think that’s because we won our first three matches of the season so easy that we took Tunkhannock too lightly.”
Tunkhannock (3-1) unveiled a star of the future in Kerri Kotch, a 5-6 sophomore middle hitter who almost single-handedly shot down the Trojans. Kotch led the Tigers with 16 kills, many of which were pinpoint slams that fell in between Nanticoke defenders.
In the first game, Kotch overpowered Acker for a slam that hit her in the chest. Two possessions later, Kotch made a spectacular block of a shot by Acker. Not to be outdone, Acker returned the favor later in the match.
“In the first two games, we were real disciplined and played solid defense,” Kotch said. “After that, it evened out. We started making our own mistakes.”
Byorick said Nanticoke showed its true character with its come-from-behind heroics.
“We may not be the most talented team in the league, but we’ve certainly got the most heart. We proved that today.”

Hoban, Nanticoke Area hold edge in WVVC

For the first time in six years, there is no clear-cut favorite in the Wyoming Valley Volleyball Conference.
Five teams have a shot at staking a claim to the title with Bishop Hoban and Nanticoke Area rating a slight edge over the rest of the field. Crestwood, Lake-Lehman and Dallas are serious contenders.
“As always, the league is very strong,” said Hoban coach John Kablick. “This year is a little different because I can see as many as five teams possibly winning it, so I expect a battle right to the end.”
Hoban saw it’s four year reign as District 2 champion come to an end with a semifinal loss at Crestwood last season.
However, the Lady Argents return 10 of their top 15 players from a year ago and will be a major factor.
Defending District 2, Class AA champ, Nanticoke Area, lost several talented players from 2005 but still has seniors Aly Byorick and Sara Acker back for a fourth season.
“Both players are the nucleus,” said Trojanettes coach Deb Krupinski. “They’re our team leaders and we’ll build around them.”
Hoban’s success depends on the performances of seniors Allie Downing, Kelly Rose, Sarah Rogers and Sara Vidumsky, along with junior Lindsay Maximowicz. All played major roles last year.
Valley West transfer Maggie McCormick, a junior, is expected to help immediately.
“We’ll be a contender,” Kablick noted. “We lost nine seniors heading into last year and a tenth girl moved to California so it was a rebuilding year but we have plenty of experience back so it will be a plus.
“I think our overall hitting and setting is extremely strong. Plus, all of our defenders return so we have a nice balance and our freshmen class is the strongest it’s been since I’ve been the coach. I think we’ll do alright.”
While Hoban looks strong, the Trojanettes aren’t far behind, despite the absence of five major players.
Byorick and Acker have started since their freshmen seasons and must lead the squad in the early stages of the season.
Leading the list of players that will fill the voids are senior Amanda Grabinski, junior Keira Lohman and sophomore’s Kelsey Yohey, Amy Robachesky and Morgan Thomas. Robachesky and Thomas are the setters.
“We lost a lot of quality players but we have people who can fill the positions,” said Krupinski. “They have big shoes to fill but they’re getting the job done. I can see that in practice.
“I think the league will be more competitive since everybody lost some of their big players. That levels the playing field this year but we have two of the best players in the league so that’s to our advantage,” added Krupinski.
Lehman brings in a wealth of letterwinners, led by outside hitter and back row specialist, Marissa Harrison, while Crestwood coach Bruce Muchler lost several players and will rely on talented all-around performer, Jade Dudley.
Dallas welcomes back all but one player from last season.

Sept. 1, Lake-Lehman at Dallas; Sept. 12, Crestwood at Lake-Lehman; Sept. 26, Nanticoke Area at Hoban; Sept. 28, Lake-Lehman at Nanticoke Area; Oct. 12, Crestwood at Hoban; Oct. 23, Nanticoke Area at Crestwood.

Key departures
Amanda Sorber, Lake-Lehman; Lane Kehl and Nicole Boone, Crestwood; Kaitlyn Malshefski and Amanda Gavin, Nanticoke Area.

Freshmen to watch
Emily Banas and Monica Wignot, Bishop Hoban. Banas’ father, Dr. Michael Banas, was an all-american basketball player at the University of Scranton and a two-time academic all-american. Wignot’s brother, Owen, is a standout on the Argents soccer and basketball teams.

Dropped out
Meyers lacked numbers and opted not to field a program this season.

New kid on the block
Delaware Valley joins the WVVC after competing in the Lackawanna Conference.