With six players graduating, it would be easy to say the Delone Catholic High girls' volleyball team will be rebuilding after losing 25-20,. 15-25, 25-20, 25-23 in the PIAA Class AA title match against Fort LeBoeuf on Saturday.
Uh, not so fast.
While the Squirettes lose seniors Allie Mondorff and Ali Smith, they return a core that includes juniors Cambria Wierman and Hannah Lawrence and sophomores Cheyenne Altland and Maddie Comly.
Wierman and Lawrence were two of the Squirettes' best players during the playoffs. The former had 14 kills, seven digs and five aces Saturday and the latter had 21 digs.
Wierman's strengths lie in hitting and serving.
"You can look at Cam and say, 'She's not as big, she's not as tall,'" Leppo said. "I don't care. The kid's got heart."
Wierman, who had three consecutive aces to close out the lone game the Squirettes won Saturday, spent the offseason working on her serves.
"Now, I'm more comfortable," she said. "I try to serve as hard as I can and ace people."
Lawrence became the libero despite not having much experience there. She spent the season adjusting to the responsibilities. Liberos defend an area ranging from sideline to sideline and must stop anything that gets past players in front of them.
"It's a very tough position," Lawrence said. "I definitely needed to work on positioning and reading some hits."
Wierman and Lawrence didn't start much last season because the Squirettes had players like Faith Athey and Courtney McMaster. But the experience helped the juniors step into larger roles this year.
"That was kind of implied that we were getting yanked up," Lawrence said. "We knew we had to be leaders on this team."
Added Leppo: "A big part of it is just learning how to be that top gun, that big-time hitter. As a sophomore, you learn and grow into that role. You learn through experience."
He added his team will handle the transition well.
"Next year, there's going to be a whole new group of kids," Leppo said. "People are going to have the same conversation: 'You lost all these starters. What did you do?' We got in the gym and busted our butts every single day.
"The kids who are sophomores this year, they're going to grow into a bigger role and fill that role. (Wierman and Lawrence are) two of the best players in the state at their position. The scary thing with both of them is they're going to get better."
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