Gateway volleyball makes smooth transition to new head coach

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Sunday, September 4, 2022 | 11:01 a.m.


There weren’t many introductions needed when Nicole Riley met her Gateway volleyball players on the first day of preseason camp on August 15.

As the college coach of the Gators for several seasons, Riley had coached all but two members of that year’s team.

The familiarity was there, and senior setter Avrey Ferczak said the team made positive progress because of it.

” It was great. We can really tell how much we have improved from last year,” she said.

“The transition to Coach Riley was smooth knowing what she is like as a coach and what she expected of us. We really came together as a team during these training sessions, and I think we can have a very good season.

Riley, a PE teacher and college athletics coordinator, said the girls were amped up and ready to go from day one.

“Everyone was thrilled to have a familiar face in place and hopefully establish some consistency,” she said.

“The girls went straight to work on the first day. We had the gymnasium open the first two days and then tryouts. The girls worked very hard and they were competitive.

Eight seniors – including 3-4A Section stars Lexi Margolis, Sarah Porter and Amaya Robinson – left last year’s squad that went 2-10 in a robust 3-4A Section against the likes of the playoffs Oakland Catholic, Penn-Trafford, Latrobe, and Hempfield.

As part of the offseason realignment for the next two seasons, Gateway has moved up to Class 3A and will face a number of local enemies in Section 1.

This includes WPIAL and PIAA 2021 finalist Hampton and WPIAL semi-finalist Plum, as well as Penn Hills, McKeesport, West Mifflin and Woodland Hills.

“There’s a coaching poll that comes out every week, and Gateway didn’t make the top 10,” Riley said.

“But I think we can surprise some people. The girls know the section is a challenge, but they will be ready for it.

Due to coaching transitions over the summer, Gateway had no scrimmages or sideline games at the start of the season, so after several weeks of team training in the gymnasium at the Furrie Sports Complex in Gateway, Riley said the team was ready to see a different set. of faces on the net.

The Gators were scheduled to open section play and the season as a whole Tuesday at home against Woodland Hills.

“I wish we had at least had a scrum to see where we were and how far we’ve come,” said senior defensive specialist Taylor Bumbaugh.

“But I am convinced that we will be ready to start the season.”

Gateway visits West Mifflin on Thursday, hosts Plum next Tuesday and takes on Penn Hills on September 8 before playing the annual Plum Invitational on September 15.

Twenty-six players are on the roster for the 2022 season, and that includes leadership of seven seniors in total.

Ferczak and Bumbaugh return after starting last season, and they’re joined by other returning starters who include Becky George (outside hitter), sophomore setter Jolina Estremera and junior outside hitter Alice Childs.

“We are so excited to start playing and hope to see the hard work pay off,” said George.

“With the new coach and the way the team has come together, we have set ourselves high expectations. We want to qualify for the playoffs.”

Gateway hasn’t made the playoffs since 2017, when it finished third in Division 1-3A behind co-champions Indiana and Greensburg Salem.

There are four juniors on the roster, and this year’s sophomore class is large with 11 members.

“The team is definitely improving, seniors down,” Bumbaugh said.

“Normally, the university and the JV can be kind of separated, but our JV and the university are very close this year. We push each other and motivate each other to improve.

Riley said all four freshmen on this year’s team are doing well, and she’s thrilled to see how much they’ve improved, including skill execution, in the short time since college.

“I think a lot of girls can and will contribute to college games,” Riley said. “They’ve worked so hard to prepare for the season, and now the season is here. We’re ready to show people what we can do.

Michael Love is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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