First-year Abington Heights head volleyball coach stresses passing, defense

By Robert Tomkavage - | September 1st, 2015 11:43 am

CLARKS SUMMIT — First-year Abington Heights girls volleyball head coach Kendra Bianchi expects her players to give their all, every point, every match.

With nine starters returning, the Lady Comets should be competitive in Lackawanna League play.

“(Our goal) is to be the best we can be,” Bianchi said. “I want the girls to come out hard every game, every practice, and play every game like it’s for the state championship.”

Senior Marissa Lewis returns as the setter, seniors Mariah Tulaney and Cassie Toth return as outside hitters, junior Olivia Baker is back as a right side hitter, junior Alessia Brunori will be a starting middle hitter, junior Celia Davis will start as an outside hitter, sophomore Cassandra Ksiazek is a returning right side hitter, junior Emily Crowley will see time as a setter and junior Emilee Barrett will serve as the starting libero.

Senior Grace Hambrose will be an outside hitter/defensive specialist, junior Maria Pacyna will see time as an outside hitter, junior Brooke Reiner will be a defensive specialist/setter and junior Danielle Sanok will be a middle hitter/right side hitter.

“I think we’re going to be a strong defensive and passing team,” Bianchi said. “They are really working on their court positions — where to be and when to be there — and reading the hitters. Our biggest focus has been on passing. Nothing but passing, passing form, defense and movement.”

Bianchi believes the veteran players will need to be vocal on the court in order for the team to have success.

“We need to have a lot of communication and strong leadership from our captains (Toth and Tulaney) and experienced players,” she said. “Also, we need to keep moving, keep our heads up and play like every point is the last one.”

According to Bianchi, a scrimmage against Holy Redeemer, the defending District 2 Class 2A champions, helped prepare the team for the start of the season.

“It was definitely a learning and growing experience,” she said. “We learned where our weak spots were and where are strengths were. We got to work out some rotations and had some success against a really strong team.”

Bianchi served as the assistant coach at Abington Heights last season and previously spent three years as an assistant coach for the women’s volleyball team at Keystone College.

She expects Dunmore to provide the toughest competition in the Lackawanna League.

The Lady Comets will begin Lackawanna League play at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4 at Clarks Summit Elementary when they host Blue Ridge.

From left, Abington Heights girls volleyball seniors Grace Hambrose, Cassie Toth, Mariah Tulaney and Marissa Lewis. left, Abington Heights girls volleyball seniors Grace Hambrose, Cassie Toth, Mariah Tulaney and Marissa Lewis. Robert Tomkavage | Abington Journal

By Robert Tomkavage

Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.