Trojanette Volleyball


Trojanettes thriving in starting roles this season
Tony Maluso – Citizens Voice

2019 Volleyball
(L-R): Myla Vnuk, Jenna Baron, Abbey Cullen & Emily Cullen

Three straight years Nanticoke Area has reigned atop District 2 Class 3A volleyball.

But the senior class primarily responsible for the three-year gold medal run graduated following the Trojanettes’ 2018 title.

Finding a successful group will create a string of successful teams. Finding another group to sustain that success is what takes the overall program to another level.

This year’s Trojanettes came in with big shoes to fill. They’ve more than risen to the challenge, carrying a 12-1 record into the regular season’s final matches.

“We knew we had to work hard and replace everyone that we lost,” said senior setter Rielly Miller. “We had seven seniors and they were all starters. We lost a tremendous amount of people and we knew we had to build and really work to get back to where we were.”

Coach Deb Gavin cautions about using the word “reload” due to the lack of varsity experience her new starters possessed entering the year. But they’ve put in their time and have risen to the challenge of filling starting roles at one of the district’s premier programs.

“They’ve been on the team for a while, but they’ve been on the bench waiting for their turn to play, and that’s where we’re at right now,” Gavin said. “It’s been a challenge putting them together. It’s a work in progress every day in practice.

“We’re a band of a bakers’ dozen. There are 13 of us,” Gavin added. “They band together, very supportive. Even the people sitting next to us on the bench are fantastic. They’re there to support everybody and push this team. It’s a nice unit.”

The highly potent Nanticoke offense that dominated courts the past few years is still around, just with new faces on the frontline.

Myla Vnuk, Jenna Baron and twin sisters Abby and Emily Cullen present a formidable quartet that have been causing fits all season for opposing defenses.

“This team, for being so young, we have such good chemistry,” Vnuk said. “We’ve all been playing all different kinds of sports since elementary school together. I think being so close coming up, we knew we had to work together and keep doing what we’ve been doing to step up to replace the older kids.

“I definitely knew this team had to fill so many people’s shoes. I definitely think everyone came together to fill everyone’s spots.”

The group knew their time was coming as they played behind players such as Alyssa Lewis, Rayza Ruiz and Jilann Baron, Jenna’s sister.

They put in the work necessary so they’d be ready when they were thrust into starting roles.

“Last year, it’s been a big building block since then,” Jenna Baron said. “Last year, we had all our seniors to look up to. We were working as hard as we can at practice to come together so when they left we would be here and be good. This year, it was all about the bonding and playing as a team. Being at practices and hanging out with everyone outside, it brought us together as a team.”

Last year’s seniors had a clear impact on the new group of Trojanettes. In turn, the lessons are still being passed down to the next generation coming up through the ranks.

“I miss those seven seniors because they were together for four years. They were a solid unit,” Gavin said. “Alyssa Lewis especially, the minute a freshman walked into our gym, she was the first one to hug them and say, ‘Welcome to volleyball.’ She did that all by herself. I think that made a big impression on Myla and I think that’s why some of our older kids now are receptive on new people.”

Vnuk has filled the role as Nanticoke Area’s leading hitter. Gavin attributes her success to the passion she plays with.

“Myla was a pretty decent hitter last year, but she was a freshman, wet behind the ears,” Gavin said. “Right now I’d say out of the whole team, volleyball is her first love. She’s really into the sport, likes it a lot. ... A good hitter, she loves the game, it’s truly in her heart.”

“I think it’s a very good challenge to know people are going after to block me but at the same time, I know I have my team to back me up the way they should.”

While the vicious spikes and the sound of the ball smacking the floor can bring the crowd to their feet, the hitting group will be the first to tell you their success starts with the backline.

“If we don’t get a pass, we’re not getting a kill. That’s as simple as it is,” Baron said. “Without our passers and our setter, our hitters would be nothing. We’d just be four people that can hit a ball on the court. Ouir passers are probably the most important part of our team because if they weren’t here, no one could anything.”

For Miller, it makes her job as setter easier knowing there’s so many equally affective options to pass to.

“Feels really nice to have that when you can talk and have everything under control,” Miller said. “The passes are good, they’re coming right to you. You can talk and call out everything.”

Just five matches into the season, the new starting group received its first big test when perennial power, 4A Delaware Valley came to down. Nanticoke dispatched the Warriors in four sets.

Vnuk couldn’t help but smile the second that match was brought up.

“That was amazing for us. That was probably one of the biggest accomplishments of our season,” she said. “We came together, we were talking, we had energy. I think the best part of that game was the energy we had. We did what we do the best and we came together.”

“That game, it was so early on in the season. We always want to beat Del Val, they’re a really good team,” Baron said. “Playing against them and playing up to their level and even higher to win showed us we can be a good team. It brought us together even closer. We played like we never have before. Coaches were impressed with us, I think we were impressed with ourselves. It showed us what we’re capable of.”

It also showed that this group was capable of carrying on the proud legacy of Nanticoke Area volleyball.

“I think it’s a the mark of a great program knowing we lost so many, we came back and built back up to what we had before,” Miller said.

“The Nanticoke Trojans in general, our community always backs us up,” Baron said. “Our coaches put as much as they can into us. We’re kind of held to that standard within ourselves we have to be good because that’s our expectations for ourselves.”

Congratulations to our girls volleyball team who, over the weekend, successfully defended their championship in the Valley West Invitational. The Trojanettes won over Berwick in the final match... stay tuned for round 3.

WVC Volleyball Preview
Tom Fox

Nanticoke Area

Coach: Debbie Gavin
2018 league record: 15-2

The defending district 3A champ will be in rebuilding mode in 2019. Gavin lost seven seniors from 2018, including Rayza Ruiz, Alyssa Lewis and Jilann Baron. The young Trojans do return senior setter Rielly Miller and sophomore Myla Vnuk in addition to juniors Abby Cullen and Jenna Baron.

“It’s a first time in a while that we are kind of rebuilding,” Gavin said. “We have a young team that doesn’t have a lot of experience. We just take it day by day, and keep teaching them as much as we could. The team enjoys playing volleyball, but we just doesn’t have that experience we’ve had in the previous two seasons.”