By Lisa Byers
On the eve of the District 10 Class AA boys volleyball tournament, Meadville head coach Ron Newman expected to spend a little bit of time just fine tuning the skills that led his team to the Region 1 title and an unbeaten regular season.
But that is not at all what happened. Instead, Newman spent the evening finalizing a new lineup.
The Bulldogs will have a different look when they take the court tonight for the quarterfinal round of the District 10 boys volleyball tournament at Meadville Area Senior High School following the suspensions of three players, including two starters.
Newman would not go into detail but said, “There were some untimely stupid mistakes made by players on the team that led to their suspensions.” He would not name the players involved.
Despite the recent happenings, Newman said the Bulldogs have the same expectations as they have had all season long. They expect to go out and compete for and win the District 10 title.
“I do,” Newman said. “If we don’t beat ourselves … We need to play smart, smarter than we have all season.”
The lineup Newman has implemented for the tournament is one the team is familiar with. In fact, it was used at the Hempfield Tournament earlier this season, a tournament the Bull-dogs went on to win.
The Bulldogs also used a variation of the lineup in its Region 1 sweep of Saegertown.
“We tinkered with it and everything seems to be going alright,” said Newman. “We’re replacing two of those players and we will go without a libero.”
Sam Wyman, the team’s libero throughout the regular season, will instead play outside hitter.
“I still have the utmost confidence in the players who will play but am very disappointed in the actions a few took that not only will haunt them for a time but also hurt many other individuals who have worked their tails off this season,” Newman said.
The Bulldogs are the No. 1 seed after going 12-0 overall and 9-0 in Region 1 play this season. They face No. 8 seed Fort LeBoeuf (1-10, 1-8 Region 1) today at 6 p.m. Also at 6 p.m., No. 2 Cochranton (8-4, 6-3) plays No. 7 Conneaut (3-9, 2-7). Then at 8 p.m., No. 4 Maplewood (5-6, 5-4) faces No. 5 Cambridge Springs (4-8, 4-5) and No. 3 Saegertown (8-5, 6-3) faces No. 6 Rocky Grove (5-5, 4-5).
The semifinals are Thursday beginning at 6 p.m. The championship match is Friday at 7 p.m. The top two teams advance to the PIAA state playoffs.