Meadville Tribune

Sports

April 19, 2012

Tigers are early frontrunners entering Region 1 action

MEADVILLE — There are years when the frontrunner in District 10 boys volleyball is a given.

Then there are years when someone — maybe unexpecting — steps up early on in the campaign to give the opposition a little something to ponder. This is one of those years. And Maplewood is that team to ponder.

With the start of the Region 1 boys volleyball season set to begin, the Tigers have so far set themselves apart from the rest of the contingent — this after finishing just 5-10 overall and 3-5 in the region a year ago without a single player listed above 6-foot-1.

The Tigers finished the non-region portion of their 2012 dual match schedule at 3-0 following a 25-8, 25-21, 25-12 win over Cambridge Springs on Tuesday.

In tournament play, the Tigers have been up and down, but they have faced some stiff competition along the way. At the Maplewood Invitational on March 31, the Tigers finished second, falling 25-17, 26-24 to Ambridge — currently ranked No. 1 in the state in Class AA by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association — in the finals.

Maplewood was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Meadville Invitational on April 14 by Altoona — a Class AAA squad.

“That’s just an excellent team,” Cochranton coach Brad Custead said of the Tigers. “I think most of them are seniors, so they’ve been playing together since ninth grade I’m sure. They are a solid team and they are going to be a team to reckon with.”

Of the three returning District 10 PVCA all-state players, none hail from Maplewood. For the Tigers, so far, it has been all about teamwork and understanding two of the most important facets of the game: Defense and passing.

“We are far from being the best team we can be right now,” Maplewood coach Sheila Bancroft said. “We have a lot of work to do.

“Offensively, I don’t think we’re where we need to be. But it makes me smile every time I walk into the gym. They are such great kids and I tell that to everyone. … You walk into the gym and you are happy to be there.

“No one is asking about stats. They don’t care. No one cares about who’s getting the ball. They want to win. They are all about winning.”

And so far, they are doing a pretty good job of that.

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