by Tom Utescher
For the Mount St. Joseph Academy volleyball team, graduation losses from last year’s roster were significant but not severe, and the Magic return players with enough talent and varsity experience to make an impact in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies and beyond.
The Mounties reached the league semifinals last season, and they come back this fall expecting tough opposition once more from the 2014 AACA finalists, champion Villa Maria and runner-up Merion Mercy. Merion had upset the Magic in the semi’s after losing to them in both of their two regular-season meetings.
One of the three seniors on last year’s Mount St. Joe squad was a four-year varsity player, imposing middle hitter Sarah Thomas. Defensive specialist Monica DeIenno and outside hitter Jessie Tyrell also departed with the class of 2015. This year’s three seniors are the team captains, defensive specialist Katie DeLuca, middle hitter Monica Goebel, and right side Katie Strosser.
Much of the height in the front row will come from juniors Liz Thomas (Sarah’s sister) and Jacey Abdalla, and from Abdalla’s sister Cassidy, who was already an impact player for the Magic as a freshman last fall. Other veterans of the 2014 team include juniors Courtney Kasperski and Siobhan McBride, and sophomore Mallory Baus.
Current 11th-graders Emma French and Kelly Schanes are moving up to the varsity level this season, as are sophomores Corinne and Elena Filograna, Peggy Gorman, and Ailene Woznicki.
George Trabosh is returning for his ninth season as head coach of the Magic, but his assistant for the last several seasons, Christine Steinmetz, had to step down due to work commitments. There’s still a Steinmetz on the staff, though; Christine’s sister Mary Kate, a 2010 graduate of the Mount, has come on board as an assistant.
In keeping with the family theme, the new JV head coach (and varsity assistant) is Jerry Abdalla. The father of Jacey and Cassidy, he brings with him considerable club coaching experience, currently with East Coast Power.
In early non-league bouts, the Magic will tackle established District 1 teams such as Upper Merion and Pennsbury before diving right into the deep end of the AACA talent pool in their September 8 opener against Villa Maria.