WNY Athletics

Lancers Open Strong in Pursuit of Another Girls Volleyball Championship

This just in: the St. Mary’s High School girls volleyball team is a powerhouse this season. Again.

Another year means another state championship contender for Western New York’s elite volleyball program. The Lancers showed all is well with an impressive sweep of its early tournament and a pair of convincing Monsignor Martin Association wins.

“We’re off to a good start,” coach Don Pieczynski said. “It’s a long grind. But we have to have the mindset that we have to play at the same high level every game.”

St. Mary’s opened the season in grand fashion, sweeping top-level opponents en route to a repeat on Sept 10. The Lancers did not lose a single set in beating Lancaster, Grand Island, Williamsville East, Frontier and in the championship match Eden.

“It was excellent,” Pieczynski said with a smile. “That’s the way you want to start the season.”

League play has delivered similar results as the Lancers started their quest for an eighth consecutive MMA title with victories over Niagara Catholic and Cardinal O’Hara teams that came ready to play but don’t have enough to compete with the loaded Lancers.

“We like to keep pushing ourselves,” Pieczynski said after a 25-10, 25-18, 25-11 win on the road against a feisty Cardinal O’Hara. “It’s hard after a tournament like that when you play all those top teams to take on teams that aren’t as strong as those teams in our tournament. We want to get better every game. We need to play at our level and not worry about the competition.”

Staying sharp for MMA matches is always crucial for the powerhouse Lancers – because rest assured every league opponent has the St. Mary’s game circled on the calendar. The season-opening tournament quickly reminded everyone the Lancers are as good as advertised again this season.

I’ve told the kids that all this publicity from winning our tournament has put a bull’s-eye on our back. We’re going to have to remain prepared to take on the detractors.”

As usual, St. Mary’s has the talent to do so.

Senior Caitlyn Meyer is back after losing much of her junior season to injury. She’s been strong this season and she’ll serve as a tri-captain with senior libero Gina Appenheimer and junior Summer Slade, who ranked second on last year’s team in kills with 393. Junior setter Jill Vitale has also stepped in to fill the void left by the graduation of standout Bailey Dolegowski and sophomore Hannah Mulhern has also been strong early on for the Lancers.

“It’s a good group,” Pieczynski said.

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