3/20/2009
Key matches over the next few weeks should sort out standings quickly.
drosengrant@timesleader.com

March Madness is going on around the country right now, but the Wyoming Valley Conference will have its own version of a wild month to begin the boys volleyball season.
In a strange scheduling occurrence, the league title could be decided by the end of the month with six weeks of matches still remaining.
The season begins today with eight matches scheduled. And over the next 2? weeks at least two key games consisting of projected league contenders are slated every week.
The biggest early season tilt is when Holy Redeemer faces North Pocono on the last day of the month.
The teams met three times last year with North Pocono winning twice, including the league tiebreaker and in the District 2 Class 2A championship.
“Last year it was the middle of the season and the end,” North Pocono coach Chris Summa said in reference to the matches with the Royals. “Now, it’s week three so everyone is still kind of feeling everyone out at that point. So we will see what happens.”

Top 5 Teams

Berwick: Under coach Mike Bennett, the Bulldogs have been a consistent contender in the WVC. Even when it appears they might have a down year, they come right back with another solid season. This year should be no different and the team should be able to lock up another postseason berth.
Crestwood: Justin Udzilla, who has had success with every program he has run, takes over the team after being an assistant last season and helping the Comets to a late playoff surge. Several players are back and ready for another postseason push.
Holy Redeemer: To put it simply, the Royals are stacked this year. They lost several key parts from last year’s 15-1 squad, but everyone on this year’s team saw playing time. As hard as it is to believe, Redeemer may even be better than a year ago and the Royals will have revenge on their minds after losing twice to North Pocono last season.
North Pocono: The Trojans lost two big pieces – All-State selections Aaron Orloski and P.J. Clifford – from the team that won consecutive District 2 Class 2A championships, but that’s all they have lost. A rivalry is brewing between North Pocono and Holy Redeemer as the two could meet more than once again this year.
Wyoming Valley West: The Spartans have won back-to-back District 2 Class 3A championships and early signs are that they could be headed for a three-peat. A strong Hazleton Area squad is much improved and should give the Spartans a run for the district title.
Sleeper: Nanticoke: The Trojans have a slew of seniors returning from the team that went 5-11 last year. A good combination of experience and health could produce a winning season and a playoff appearance.

Top 5 Players
1. Cameron Guignet, Crestwood: A senior outside hitter, he was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 and should be a force all over the court this year.
2. Ryan Willie, North Pocono: The senior was one of the best all-around players in the WVC last season, helping the Trojans claim a district title.
3. Sean Bieski, Nanticoke: The senior missed all of last season with an injury and should be able to help push the Trojans to a playoff run in 2009. He is one of the best athletes in the entire WVC this year.
4. Brian May, Holy Redeemer: The senior was one of the most feared hitters in the league last year and should be again this year.
5. Sean Burger, Abington Heights: The senior setter helped the Comets to an 8-8 mark last season and should be a force on the team once again for the upcoming campaign.
Sleeper: Peter Alexis, Holy Redeemer: the 6-foot-11 sophomore is playing the sport for the first time. His height is something that nearly no team in the state should be able to handle. It will probably take some time for Alexis to learn the fundamentals of the game, but when he does, look out.
Circle the Calendar
Some of the biggest matches this season occur in the early part of the schedule, including Wyoming Valley West at Crestwood today, and a possible WVC league-deciding matchup on March 31 when Holy Redeemer travels to North Pocono.
One intriguing showdown is slated for the last day of the season – the May 13 match pitting Hazleton Area at Wyoming Valley West. The District 2 Class 3A title might be decided.
The key postseason dates are: May 18, District 2 Class 2A Tournament; May 21, District 2 Class 2A Finals; May 26, PIAA Championships First Round; May 29-30, PIAA Championships at Penn State University
2008 Final Standings
1. Holy Redeemer (15-1); North Pocono (15-1); 3. Wyoming Valley West (14-2); Coughlin (14-2); 5. Berwick (11-5); 6. Lake-Lehman (10-6); Crestwood (10-6); 8. Tunkhannock (8-8); Abington Heights (8-8); 10. Delaware Valley (7-9); Hazleton Area (7-9); 12. Meyers (6-10); 13. Nanticoke (5-11); 14. Dallas (3-13); 15. Wyoming Area (2-14); 16. Hanover Area (1-15); 17. Pittston Area (0-16).