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Moran a motivational force as ultimate ‘team player’ at Thomas Jefferson

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randy jarosz | for trib total media
Madison Moran was a senior right-side hitter on the Thomas Jefferson girls' volleyball team this season.

Now that the Thomas Jefferson volleyball season is over, Madison Moran may have to go shopping.

For the past month, Moran and her teammates had been wearing the crew neck shirts provided by the booster club every game day as a symbol of team unity.

“Don’t worry,” Moran said, “we washed them in between.”

Cleanliness aside, it was just one of the many things that made Moran blend right in as the ultimate teammate this season.

The Lady Jaguars started three seniors, and two of them will go on to play at Division I programs. Rachel Stover (Cleveland State) and Allie Yurkovich (Robert Morris) both were three-year starters.

Moran, however, was a starting for the first time at right-side hitter. While she was not relied upon to provide highlight-reel plays, she set many of them up and impressed her teammates along the way.

“She did great this season. She’s really good at placing the ball, something I am not very good at. She picked up the slack there,” said Yurkovich about her senior teammate.

Moran said her friendship with Yurkovich is what got her into the sport back in sixth grade.

“It was always something I was interested in, but I guess you could say it was something I did because of my friends,” she said. “It was something to try out.”

From that point forward, Moran’s interest and dedication blossomed.

Over the summer, she committed herself to a rigorous conditioning program that including sprinting up hills and stadium bleachers.

Once the season rolled around, that hard work paid off.

Thomas Jefferson recently capped its historic year when it bowed out of the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals against undefeated District 10 champ Fort LeBoeuf.

It marked the first time in more than a decade that the Lady Jaguars competed in the state playoffs.

Prior to that, they vied for a WPIAL championship for the first time since 2001.

“I’m very proud of my team for making the (WPIAL) finals,” Moran said. “It was great, especially to share it with such a great team and great coaches.”

The loss to Ford City in the WPIAL title match only served as motivation for the Lady Jaguars, who won their first PIAA match since 2001 by defeating District 9 champion St. Mary’s last week.

In typical Moran fashion, that team triumph was one of her proudest moments.

“I’m very proud of this accomplishment,” she said. “It was one of our main goals since the beginning, and losing in the WPIAL finals definitely served as motivation.”

Unlike her fellow seniors, Moran’s volleyball playing days ended with the loss in the state playoffs. She is undecided regarding what college she will attend, but said she will not be playing volleyball.

If Moran sticks to that plan, she can rest easy knowing that her legacy as a Thomas Jefferson volleyball player is secure.

Moran’s teammates know how important she was. Yurkovich said that without Moran, the team’s success would not have been possible.

“Absolutely not,” Yurkovich said. “She was a key player that we needed on our team. We’re so proud of everything we’ve done together and the history we made for the school.”

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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