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6 area players earn all-state in volleyball

In a season to remember for area volleyball with two teams advancing to the state quarterfinals and one advancing to the state final, six area players were named to the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Class AA all-state team.

Two Wellsboro players made the team, the first members of the team since Kirsten Florio in 2016. Seniors Caitlyn Callahan and Megan Starkweather were selected by the committee to the team.

“It is always a proud moment for the Wellsboro volleyball program when any one of our players gets recognized for a postseason award. It has been a pleasure coaching and having these two ladies for the past four years.  They have worked hard and are well deserving to be named to the All State team,” said Wellsboro coach Sharon Zuchowski.

It is Callahan’s third selection to the all-state team. The senior outside hitter emerged as one of the state’s biggest offensive threats. The Millersville signee finished the year with 364 kills and a .373 hitting percentage.

“This honor reflects all my hard work, determination to play my best, and my love of the game. I was proud to be a leader of my team and enjoyed my career at Wellsboro,” she said.

It is the first selection for Starkweather, who overcame health issues to make the team. Starkweather, one of the most versatile players in the area, was thrilled to be named all-state.

“I am just really thankful. When I was hauled out of our first tournament in an ambulance my spirits were a little bent but my coach, teammates, and family never gave up on me. I played every game with my whole heart and left everything I could on the court,” said Starkweather.

North Penn-Liberty, which were runners-up in the state, had four selections as seniors Maddison Minyo and Joanne McNamara joined juniors Charisma Grega and Ali Koval as selections.

“Chairsma was fundamental to our team’s success this season, playing strongly in all positions for us. She played with quiet confidence and was a true team leader. Ali is a phenomenal player and led our strong defense,” North Penn-Liberty coach Jennifer Nawri said. “Ali’s energy on the court is infectious and encourages others to play with the same intensity Maddie’s season was amazing. Her stats show her true determination and calm leadership in high pressure situations. Maddie fit well into the outside position this season and was critical to our championship run. JoAnne’s positive attitude and hard work made her a true leader this season. JoAnne sets a fast pace of play for our team and sets up our offensive with skill and confidence.”

Minyo made a position switch from a three-rotation middle hitter to a six-rotation outside hitter and established herself as one of the state’s best players. It is the four-year starter’s first selection to the all-state team.

“It’s awesome really It was one of my big personal goals for the season to get all state and it actually happening seems unreal. Knowing all of the hard work I’ve put into the past four years is paying off is just amazing,” Minyo said.

McNamara, who went over 1,500 assists for her career late in the season, has been a four year starter alongside Minyo. The diminutive setter has been a leader for the Mounties and has excelled running effective offenses that have led NPL to four consecutive district titles.

“It’s really great to have gotten all state, but it’s even better that I get to share it with three other girls from my team. Without them and my whole team I definitely wouldn’t have gotten this,” McNamara said. 

Koval had big shoes to fill, replacing NTL Defensive Player of the Year Savannah Doney at the libero possession. She did more than just fill the void, racking up nearly 500 digs and had an incredible state tournament, going over 20 digs in all four matches.

“It feels amazing, I can’t believe it,” Koval said. “I didn’t even think I was in the running to be honest. But I’m so happy for everyone that received all state from the team. I’m very grateful.”

Grega has been a six-rotation outside hitter since the beginning of her career and is one of the state’s most well-rounded and cerebral players. Making all state has been a long time goal of hers.

“It feels like a dream to make all-state. I’ve known since my freshman year that I wanted to make all-state. I didn’t know which year I would make it, or if I would at all, but I continued to work for it. That work has definitely paid off this year and I couldn’t be happier.”

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