By Lisa Byers
June 21, 2013 7:00 a.m. —
The highly anticipated rematch between Saegertown and Meadville, this time for the District 10 boys volleyball championship, had just gotten underway.
But in the blink of an eye, what was predicted to be a battle had surprisingly turned into a rout as the Panthers racked up a 12-1 lead.
Behind it all was the duo of Shane Rigby and Dustin Pavlik.
Rigby and Pavlik had a way of coming through in the clutch this season.The two then took it up a few notches in the postseason, leading the Panthers to the District 10 title and the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.
Simply put, they were a dominant combination.
So, which one took the prize as The Meadville Tribune’s 2013 Boys Volleyball Player of the Year?
“I would go with either Rigby or Pavlik,” Cambridge Springs head coach Rick Welker said when asked for his player of the year considerations. “Difficult to pick one over the other.”
“Dustin Pavlik or Shane Rigby,” McDowell head coach Dean Platz said in response to the same question. “Both are really, really good players. Most coaches would be happy to have either guy on their team. I know I’d take either.”
“I can’t make that decision,” Saegertown coach Justin Johnson said. “Pick them both. Make them co-players of the year.”
There’s an idea.
See, Pavlik and Rigby were outstanding individual players, but even better as a combination. So why not? Why not co-players of the year?
So here you have it, the 2013 Tribune boys volleyball co-players of the year: Dustin Pavlik and Shane Rigby.
“Each had their own strengths,” Welker said. “Rigby was strong on the attack, both front and back court. Pavlik was strong as an all-around player.”
“Dustin was a little more versatile and can pass,” Platz said. “Where Shane is probably the better blocker of the two. They work hand in hand.”
Pavlik, an outside hitter, finished the year with 39 aces, 213 kills, 40 blocks and 165 digs. What about Rigby? The middle hitter chimed in with 240 kills, 82 blocks and 112 digs.
“Shane was our emotional leader and a great athlete,” Johnson said. “He hit some balls in his career that I would just shake my head and say, ‘Wow, that was unreal.”
As for Pavlik, “Dustin was Mr. Steady for us,” Johnson said. “Nothing flashy, but he made very few mistakes and had an array of shots that made him tough to stop.”
What stood out the most for Pavlik and Rigby this season is their aforementioned ability to come through when it mattered most. And as good as Pavlik and Rigby were in the regular season, they were even better in the postseason.
Pavlik, for example, had one of the best matches of his career in the District 10 semifinals against Cochranton. The senior had 17 kills in the three-game sweep. Then in the title match against Meadville, it was Pavlik who stood at the service line during the Panthers’ 11-0 run that gave them a 12-1 advantage.
He had a team-best 16 kills in the Panthers’ season-ending loss to Ambridge in the state quarterfinals.
“He really stepped it up at districts,” Johnson said.
Rigby was consistent throughout the postseason. In the District 10 title match he had a match-high 17 kills. He had 16 during the Panthers’ win over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the first round of the PIAA Class AA state playoffs. He had 10 kills against Ambridge and assisted five others, including three to Pavlik out of the middle back row.
“He really took his game to the next level the last month of the season when he picked up his back row (defense) and his passing skills,” Johnson said. “That made a huge difference in how we played in the District 10 tourney.”
Pavlik and Rigby were part of some great success as members of the Panthers’ volleyball team for four seasons. They leave with two District 10 titles and a PIAA Class silver medal.
“They both had great careers,” Johnson said. “It was a joy to be around them and the other four seniors this year.”