Local Sports

Local volleyball players get collegiate exposure at USA Volleyball Junior national championships

LAS VEGAS — The USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships in Las Vegas saw some Morgantown athletes compete this year.

Kaitlyn Anderson, Isabel Grushecky and Audrey Buck of the Pittsburgh Elite Volleyball Association’s 15 Elite team competed in the National Division. The road to this event is no easy feat however as they proved themselves to be one of the top 48 teams in the U.S. by winning the Keystone Regional Volleyball Association Regional Qualifier. 

Anderson tips her hat to head coach Mike Scahill and assistant coach Lauren Kolenik for the team’s performance.

“We started off as a very inexperienced team but the coaching from both him [Scahill] and our assistant coach Lauren Kolenik brought us to the top level in a short amount of time. We suffered some tough injuries and made some major changes. We really molded together as a team from the very beginning and I think the connection between us girls helped our team get to this level,” she said.

She also stresses the importance of extra work that was put in during the teams practices, whether it be individual training or the teams effort as a whole. 

The sport was not always on Anderson’s mind as she started playing in middle school after some convincing from older peers who took notice of her height. It didn’t take long though as she began to commit her time and try out for the Pittsburgh Elite Volleyball Association after just her second season in the sport. 

“I had heard a lot of great things about Pittsburgh Elite and decided that’s where I wanted to try. I had never dreamed that I would make the top team, and when I got the offer I couldn’t turn it down,” she said.

The competition in Las Vegas had no easy route, however, as each regional champion was seeking nothing less than to be at the top of their division, but the experience itself provided great exposure for the athletes involved. The event drew the attention of collegiate volleyball recruiters — something Anderson was aware of and is grateful for as she aspires to continue and compete at the next level.

Anderson, Buck and Grushecky were not the only girls representing Morgantown as Grace Washburn was also at the event as a member of Renaissance Volleyball Club’s 17 black team. This connection and experience benefited them not only in Las Vegas, but also helps moving forward with the sport at the high school level.

“Playing together at Pitt elite really brought us closer and we learned how to encourage each other on the court,” Anderson said. “Audrey is an upcoming freshman setter who will be trying out at MHS. Already having that setter-hitter connection with two hitters will really help her connection with the team for this upcoming season.”

Volleyball has become a huge part of Anderson’s life as her commitment to the sport is displayed with her weight training, individual lessons and team practices on top of being a high school student, but still makes room to enjoy her free time with her family and friends.

The 2021 USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championship concluded July 5.

TWEET @dompoststports