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October 4, 2013

WORTHY CRUSADE: Rolling Fenwick volleyball aims for historic season

A team’s season is often defined by its final overall record or more importantly how far it goes in the state tournament. Other teams worry less about the wins and losses and more about the relationships they build over the course of the year.

The Bishop Fenwick volleyball team has managed to be wildly successful at both of these aspects.

The Crusaders have made the postseason the past three years, including two trips to the Division 1 North final. Last year they had an early upset against Weston in the quarterfinals and are using that loss as motivation during this season’s campaign.

“The greatest thing about this team (and the captains in particular), is that they have already achieved a lot in their career, but they still work unbelievably hard every day to get better,” said head coach Adam DeBaggis. “They’re incredible leaders and and inspiration to me and their teammates.”

The four senior captains Kate Lipka (middle hitter), Gianna Pizzano (outside hitter), Tessa McLaughlin (setter) and Jen Crovo (outside hitter) have all been together, with the exception of McLaughlin, since their freshmen year. While the Crusader squad is laden with veteran leadership, eight seniors on the roster, the quartet of captains play an integral role on the team. They only lost one senior from last year’s roster, so essentially the entire team is back with an even stronger bond.

“A few years ago these girls needed to be coached on all the fundamentals of volleyball; now they only really need me for small advice and encouragement,” noted DeBaggis. “We work on more advanced plays and our practices are as, or more, competitive than some of our games.”

Each of the four girls brings something different to the table. Lipka is one of the top players in the state and is able to make quick and smart decisions on the fly. She also leading the state in kills per set (4.9) and is hitting 56 percent. McLaughlin is a top setter and is essentially the quarterback of the team, by running the offense. She’s third in the state in assists per set with 9.5. DeBaggis calls Crovo one of the ‘toughest’ players he’s ever coached, as she will do just about anything to saves a point for the team. Pizzano is extremely reliable and consistent, and is calming influence to the team.

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