Darren Thorpe set some very lofty goals for his team this fall.
Western Wayne's veteran girls volleyball coach knew his squad had the potential to make a bona fide run at both the Lackawanna League and District Two Class AA titles.
To the surprise of no one (with the notable exception of Coach Thorpe), the Lady 'Cats opened their campaign with a 3-0 loss to perennial powerhouse Dunmore.
Since that night in late August, however, Western Wayne has been on an absolute rampage.
The local lasses (12-2) reeled off 12 wins in their next 13 matches and now sit alone in second place behind Abington (14-1) and Dunmore (14-1) in the league standings.
Thanks to outstanding players like Kristin Thorpe, Becca Carmody, Anna Krenitsky, Jordyn Jacques and Brooke Enslin, Western Wayne is on its way to yet another berth in the district tournament.
At this point in the year, Holy Redeemer leads the Class AA rankings with a perfect 13-0 record. North Pocono and the Lady 'Cats share identical 12-2 marks.
Only four matches now remain in the regular season slate: Susquehanna (Oct. 15), Abington (Oct. 17), Forest City (Oct. 22) and Mountain View (Oct. 23).
This past weekend, local scholastic volleyball legend Jud Holdredge brought his "Scranton Showdown" to the venerable Varden Garden.
This year's edition of the annual event attracted seven elite varsity squads.
The marquee name on the bracket was Williamson, a team from the northern Tioga County that advanced all the way to the PIAA Class A championship game last season.
The Warriors rolled to a perfect record at last year's Scranton Showdown and returned this year to defend their crown.
Page 2 of 3 - Meanwhile, Western Wayne set bout the task of de-throning Williamson the champs. The Lady 'Cats played well in the early rounds and emerged from Pool Play with a sparkling 9-3 record.
Two of those losses came to the Warriors, but Coach Thorpe's girls refused to be intimidated.
The host team was tied 16-16 in its first encounter, but eventually dropped a 25-18 decision. In their second match, the Lady 'Cats built a 20-16 lead, but once again faded en route to a disappointing 25-22 loss.
Despite these two losses, Western Wayne battled its way back to the title tilt by beating Tunkhannock in the semifinals. The scores in that one were 23-25, 27-25 and 25-16.
Williamson prevailed in the championship match by a margin of 25-18, 25-12.
"Losing to Williamson is nothing to feel bad about," Coach Thorpe said. "They are an exceptional team."
Overall, Coach Thorpe was extremely pleased with the performance of his talented team.
"The girls worked hard all day," he said.
"There were definitely stretches where we didn't play as well, but the girls always seemed to make big plays when we needed them the most ... especially at the end of games."
Carmody led the Lady 'Cats in most offensive categories.
Becca piled up daunting numbers in kills, blocks and aces. She was aided and abetted by Krenitsky, who also soared a the net.
Coach Thorpe also handed out high marks to Jacques and Enslin.
"Jordyn had a strong day hitting the ball and she passed really well," he said. "Brooke gave us a very strong effort, especially hitting and serving."
Page 3 of 3 - Record Setter
Kristin Thorpe has been one of the major reasons Western Wayne is on the cusp of another District Two play-off appearance.
The Lady 'Cats junior setter runs her offense with surgical precision. Thorpe is focused, aggressive and tenacious. She unleashes one pinpoint pass after another, putting each of her teammates in position to hammer the ball home.
"Kristin is a very stoic player on the court," said Coach Thorpe. "This apparent lack of emotion masks a very competitive spirit."
In a recent shutout of Elk Lake, Thorpe became the all-time assists leader in the history of Western Wayne girls varsity volleyball.
To date, she has piled up a mind-boggling total of 791 assists, surpassing the Courtney Roegner who had held the mark since '07.
In addition, Kristin is now the program's all-time sets leader with 3,090. That number displaced another Lady 'Cat volleyball legend, Emily Komar.
According to MaxPreps, Thorpe is currently seventh in the state among Class AA players with a ratio of 7.2 assists per set.
"To get a lot of assists, you need teammates who can score," Coach Thorpe pointed out. "This is Kristin's third year starting and in that time Becca, Anna and Jordyn have combined for 657 kills."
Kristin Thorpe is a talented multi-sport athlete who also excels on the softball diamond. Last spring she was named the Lady 'Cats Defensive Player of the Year for her Gold Glove work at first base.