|Posted/Updated: 10/4/2018 3:52:43 PM|
Who to watch in EPC girls volleyball
Last fall, the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference proved once again its state dominance in high school girls volleyball.
Central Catholic made its way back to the PIAA Class 3A finals before falling to state champion Knoch. In 4A, Parkland qualified for the PIAA semifinals for a fifth-straight year, but bowed to Bishop Shanahan in a five-set thriller.
Liberty, which was upset in the District 11 Class 4A semifinals by a highly talented Nazareth team, won last year's EPC tournament title with a victory over Central Catholic.
Those four teams are expected to seize control of the EPC this fall, but other teams are not far behind. Here's what to expect this fall in EPC girls volleyball:
Five Teams to Watch
Central Catholic - Coach Laurie Corcoran stresses the importance of hard work and a positive mentality on the court. Those qualities have served the Vikettes well, especially the past two seasons. With the return of several big-time players, Central will challenge the bigger EPC schools, and move toward another PIAA Class 3A title.
Parkland - Regardless of how many players the team loses to graduation, the Trojans always seem to be in the thick of things. Coach Mike Krause gets the best out of his program, and this particular team will certainly be a contender in late October.
Liberty - The Hurricanes have produced two-straight 20-plus win seasons, and won the past two EPC titles. Liberty returns many key returners to the fold this year and is considered a favorite to win both EPC and District crowns.
Nazareth - The Blue Eagles turned heads last year when they upset top seeded Liberty in the District 11 Class 4A semifinals. With that win, the Blue Eagles qualified for the state tournament. With all the excitement and high energy surrounding the program, expect Nazareth to challenge the top dogs of the EPC.
Emmaus - The Green Hornets are on the heels of the EPC's top four teams, and this could be the season they make their move. Emmaus returns a few players with big match experience, including returning second team all-star Caroline Bond.
Five Players to Watch
Lina Perugini (Liberty) - Perugini recorded her 1,000th career dig last year and will be vying for her 1,000th career kill this year. She is one of the grittiest players in the EPC, and will be expected to lead the Hurricanes to the postseason and beyond. Perugini is a returning first-team all-star.
Rachel Hess (Central Catholic) - Hess thrives under pressure. Case in point: the PIAA championship match. She put forth a valiant effort in a five-set loss to Knoch, registering a team-high 21 kills. The Vikettes will lean heavily on Hess to continue the team's success. Hess is a returning first-team all-star.
Grace Barr (Central Catholic) - Barr provides high-powered offense for the Vikettes, but is an even bigger threat at the service line. She peaked at the right time last fall, as she registered 15 kills in the PIAA championship match. Expect the Vikettes to have the most dangerous one-two punch in the EPC this season.
Grace Steurer (Parkland) - Steurer's stellar offense ignited the Trojans throughout all of last season. She led the team with 17 kills in the PIAA Class 4A semifinals against Bishop Shanahan, and is expected to put up similar numbers against this year's top competition. Steurer is a returning first-team all-star.
Maria Harding (Nazareth) - Coming off all-state honors last year, Harding will look to lead the Blue Eagles this season. Her performance in the district semifinals against Liberty last fall was impressive, as she registered 20 kills and 23 digs to lead the way for the Blue Eagles. Expect just as impressive numbers going forward. Harding is a returning first-team all-star.
Dante Terenzio is a freelance writer.
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