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Hempfield girls fall short of championship goals

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, November 6, 2014 8:36 p.m.

The Hempfield girls volleyball team made another early exit from the WPIAL playoffs, something that came as a surprise to the players and coaches.

The Spartans fell to Seneca Valley, 3-0, in the WPIAL quarterfinals Oct. 28, one year after losing to North Allegheny, 3-0, also in the quarterfinals.

Even though they had the same result from a season ago, Hempfield (15-2) was able to capture a Section 1-AAA championship even without the services of senior Maddie Holmberg, who suffered a partial ACL tear in an early-season tournament.

Hempfield received key contributions from the remainder of the senior class, including Morgan DeFloria, a first-team All-WPIAL team selection, Leah Knizner and Lexi Irwin. But in the end, the loss of Holmberg proved very costly for the Spartans.

“We certainly had higher expectations than a seventh-place finish going into the season,” coach Lindsay Turchetta said. “A season-ending injury to Maddie was a setback in the beginning of the season. The team didn’t struggle too much without her during the regular season, but it certainly could have helped us or made the difference in the playoffs.

“I think the girls wanted to be top three and get a round further than years past, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do it with the personnel out on the court.”

When Turchetta took over the coaching duties for Hempfield in 2009, the volleyball program was struggling at the bottom of the section standings. Since then, the four seniors played a pivotal role in building the program back to prominence.

“They have been instrumental in turning the program around. These four seniors that are graduating have been on the court and contributing players for all four years,” Turchetta said. “They were certainly a big part of raising the bar and setting the standard for what is to come.”

The Spartans will return five of the eight starters from this year’s team, including sophomores Gabrielle Holmberg and Christie Redinger.

“We have a lot of depth and talent returning to the court next year. We shouldn’t skip a beat in losing that powerful senior class,” Turchetta said. “The underclassmen were really able to give it their all and fill in the holes on the court when Maddie went down.”

Even though the Spartans expected to make a deeper run in the WPIAL playoffs, those involved with the program see the bigger picture and are pleased with how the team has shaped up.

“They have definitely turned the corner with them having a little bit of success. I know it didn’t work out the way they wanted it to, but Hempfield hasn’t seen the best volleyball yet,” Turchetta said. “We are excited to continue utilizing the depth that we have created over the past couple of seasons.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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