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Carlynton girls volleyball finishes season with success

SIGCarlyVB1110614
Randy Jarosz | for Trib Total Media
Conor Richardson prepares to spike the ball during Carlynton's 3-0 loss to Bishop Canevin on Oct. 16 at Bishop Canevin High School.
SIGCarlyVB2110614
Randy Jarosz | for Trib Total Media
Gina Carini volleys the ball during Carlynton's 3-0 loss to Bishop Canevin on Oct 16 at Bishop Canevin High School.

It wasn’t how the Carlynton volleyball team wanted to end its season. But Cougars coach Emily Tupi cannot complain with what her team achieved.

Carlynton fell to Frazier, 3-1, in the opening round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs. While it was a disappointing end to a strong season, the Cougars were in just their second postseason appearance in school history.

“I am going to remember how hard there girls worked,” Tupi said. “To make the playoffs for the second year in a row and in school history was a real accomplishment. The drive they had is something I will remember.

“The seniors pushed this group to fight every match.”

Carlynton finished third in Section 2-A with a 6-4 mark behind Bishop Canevin (10-0) and Serra Catholic (8-2).

The strong finish was a success for Carlynton as the section was home to five teams who made it to the 2013 playoffs — the Crusaders, the Eagles, Vincentian Academy and Brentwood.

“The section was like a punch in the gut,” Tupi said. “But the girls still wanted to be section champs. They had the drive to be the best they can be.”

The team will lose five seniors: setter Emily Brozenick, outside hitter Jordan Melko, right-side hitter Jessica Olkosky, middle hitter Conor Richardson and right-side hitter Lexus Woods.

Tupi praised their effort in helping the team achieve its best seasons in school history over the last two years.

“I have been coaching these girls from seventh grade up to 12th, and they have given 150 percent every time they play,” Tupi said. “They were some of the best, most coachable kids. I am going to miss the rapport with them.

“It is hard to say goodbye.”

The team returns a strong group of seven juniors next season along with two sophomores who gained varsity experience. One of the biggest blows to the team will be the graduation of four-year setter Brozenick, but Tupi said the Cougars will have junior Erin Connor stepping in from the outside hitter position.

The biggest challenge now facing Carlynton volleyball is the numbers game. The team will be lacking this season’s depth and could struggle in two seasons. The Cougars played only nine players on the junior varsity team.

“Five of them missed a game this season, but I was luckily able to bring down three juniors from the varsity team,” Tupi said. “If we don’t get a bigger class, we might not have many kids.”

While Tupi has plenty of athletes in the middle school program, volleyball is played in the spring at that age. Once the players move up to the high school level, many of the girls are forced into choosing between soccer and volleyball.

“Girls start playing soccer really early in the area and have years of experience in it before they start volleyball,” Tupi said. “It is a big concern.

“We will get some new girls coming up from eighth grade but not a lot.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at [email protected] or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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