VARDEN — Western Wayne's girls varsity volleyball team got off to a sluggish start, but took it up a notch during the second half of the 2012 season.
The Lady 'Cats were just 3-4 after three weeks of Lackawanna League action and in genuine danger of missing out on the District Two playoffs.
However, with veteran coach Darren Thorpe calmly manning the controls, Western Wayne turned things around and began piling up the wins.
"I set some pretty high goals for this team and I was a little bit worried after that slow start," he told TWI Sports.
"But, we made a couple of adjustments and really came on strong in the second half."
In fact, the local lasses reeled off six consecutive victories and closed out the campaign by going 9-2 down the stretch. This late season surge made opposition coaches stand up and take notice.
The Lady 'Cats finished up tied for third in the overall standings and earned a coveted spot in the D-2 tournament.
Alas for Varden fans, a gold medal wasn't in the cards this fall. Western Wayne was eliminated from the Class AA title chase by North Pocono in the quarterfinals.
Despite this early exit, the Lady 'Cats were rewarded with four berths on the Lackawanna League All Stars.
Rebecca Carmody earned a First Team selection, while Anna Krenitsky and Jordyn Jacques each warranted a Second Team nod. Bridget Quinn rounded out this all star quartet by garnering Honorable Mention status.
"I'm thrilled," Coach Thorpe said. "This league is really tough top-to-bottom and there are a ton of good players out there. For us to get four on the all star team is a pretty big compliment to our program."
Page 2 of 3 - Overall, Western Wayne closed out the campaign with a 12-6 record. The Lady 'Cats will lose several battle-tested veterans to graduation, but the nucleus of a potentially stellar squad returns intact.
"I don't want to jinx anything, but I think we could be a very good team next year," said Coach Thorpe. "We have three all stars coming back and some really talented youngsters coming up.
"I'm already looking forward to next fall."
Cream of the Crop
Carmody is a multi-sport athlete who definitely came into her own this season as an elite volleyball player.
Just a sophomore, Rebecca dominated most of the major offensive statistics. She led the team in kills and hitting percentage, but was far from a one-dimensional player.
Carmody also finished first in digs, second in aces and second in total passes.
"I'm very excited to have Rebecca back for two more years," Coach Thorpe said.
"She is a very athletic player and a real force up front. But, Rebecca is also an outstanding passer. She does well in all aspects of the game."
Krenitsky is yet another member of that talented sophomore class.
Anna evolved into one of her team's on-court leaders as the season progressed. A fiery, emotional player, Krenitsky was second on the squad in blocks, fourth in kills and total attacks.
"Anna is very instinctive," Coach Thorpe said. "Her timing at the net is amazing. She's terrific on defense and one of our most improved players."
And, speaking of improved, Jacques may just be the poster child for that term.
Last fall, the junior rarely ever stepped up to the service line. However, after countless hours of hard work, Jordyn became one of the league's most feared servers. She led the Lady 'Cats in aces and earned high marks from her mentor along the way.
Page 3 of 3 - "I really like the way that Jordyn progressed as the season went on," Coach Thorpe said. "She is a fearless player who never backs down from anybody. Jordyn was our best server this year and she's only going to get better."
Quinn rounded out an impressive volleyball career with her second straight selection to the Lackawanna League all stars.
A 4-year varsity starter, Bridget was an intimidating presence at the net. She terrorized enemy attackers, leading Western Wayne in blocks and deflections, while also providing serious firepower in the front row.
"I think the best thing about Bridget is how smart a player she is," Coach Thorpe said.
"I mean, she just doesn't swing blindly, she sees the court and looks for openings to place the ball. We're really going to miss her next year."