Players digging late season streak

Bobby Scott, Sports Editor

The Pitt-Johnstown women’s volleyball team ended their first regular season of Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference play with beating Millersville University and losing to Shippensburg University this past weekend.

The Lady Cats had already clinched the second seed in the eastern division bracket of the conference tournament.

The team is to open tournament play against Lock Haven University Nov. 19 at home.

The tournament could be a catalyst for a potential national tournament berth depending on how far they go in the conference playoffs.

Pitt-Johnstown’s women’s volleyball has never made the national tournament.

The only teams that beat the Lady Cats in the eastern division are Millersville and Shippensburg.

“These are both big games to give us momentum for the tournament,” junior outside hitter Kelsey Shanabrook said.

“We lost to both of these teams earlier in the season so gaining two more wins would give more confidence going into the conference tournament.”

Shanabrook is second on the team in points (361.5) and points per set (3.23), trailing behind only freshman Marissa Erminio for the team lead.

“Our mindset now is to play every game like it is our last. These last games will give us a chance to make regionals for the first time in our program’s history,” Shanabrook said.

“Knowing that gives us more motivation to win and play every game together.”

Senior middle hitter Ashley DiRado said the team was looking for payback after losing to Millersville and Shippensburg back-to-back three weeks ago.

“We did not have a good weekend when we played both of these teams; I think we all really want it,” DiRado said.

“There is a good chance we will see them both somewhere in the playoffs so having good games against them will give us a little more confidence going into the playoffs.”

She said that the team members were tired, but at the same time, they realize what is now at stake.

“I think we all are exhausted, this has been an extremely long season,” DiRado said.

“We also realize that we made it this far and put so much time and effort into it that all we want right now is to win.”

DiRado also said that it was thrilling to prove all the naysayers wrong and go beyond expectations.

“It is exciting that we are going way further than anyone would have thought for us being in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference,” she said.

The Lady Cats finish the regular season and enter post season play with a 22-9 record overall (14-6 conference).