Whitehall boys had a very special year
Three words best summarize the 2019 Whitehall boys volleyball season.
Best. Year. Ever.
They were the league and district champs, and remained undefeated until they lost to Northeastern High School in the quarterfinals of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association 6A Championships. The championship was eventually won by North Allegheny High School who defeated Central York in three sets.
Along the way to a 24-1 season, Whitehall exorcised the Green Hornet demon, defeating Emmaus in the regular season and en route to an Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Championship. The Hornets had been a thorny impediment to their title aspirations the last few years, defeating them in the EPC and district finals in 2017-18.
Probably even more impressive was that they only dropped four sets all year during the regular season, and only one in the league and district playoffs.
Hoisting those trophies was the culmination of a journey that began almost since they lost to Central York last year in the PIAA playoffs. Head coach George Cowitch said that they were all a bunch of throwback players who were reminiscent of former Whitehall athletes whose success was predicated upon hard work. That was underscored by their drive every day to be their best. It’s what fueled them.
“They had their mind set on winning a championship,” said Cowitch.
He said that no one was going to outwork them, and that work ethic combined with their talent made for a championship combination.
“It’s probably the hardest working group I’ve ever had or ever been around,” said Cowitch.
Their season was also marked by the immense contributions of their senior class. Joseph Herman, Alex Khouri, Ian Frankenfield, Rick Melosky, Aziz Atiyeh all had substantial roles in getting them their postseason hardware. Their drive was contagious and the whole squad followed in step.
Cowitch said that they were extremely hungry and they simply weren’t going to be denied.
Losing those five seniors will have a huge impact, both in talent and leadership. Herman was the league’s MVP, while Melosky was a first team all-star as a setter, and Atiyeh (libero) and Khouri (OPP) were second team selections.
However, they retain a strong group of returnees led by Dylan McGinley who was an EPC Honorable Mention as an outside hitter. That returning group also includes Hunter Pinkey, Nicholas Rex, Anthony Sabbagh, Alex Rummel, Alexander Haydar, Matthew Lisicky, Connor Fenstermaker and Torrey Tyson.
Cowitch understands that what they achieved is probably something that comes along about every ten years. He’s now faced with the challenge of how to replicate a season like that and he is confident that they’ll put in the necessary work to achieve their goals.
One way is to play club volleyball during the summer, and Cowitch said that many of his players will go that route this offseason. He said playing in that environment gives them a leg up, and allows players to further develop their skills.
“That’s huge for us as a program,” said Cowitch.
Competing in the EPC with outstanding programs at Parkland, Emmaus and elsewhere, he knows that they have to keep in step.
The goal now is to defend their title. Cowitch said that now guys will begin to work hard to fill the roles left vacant by their graduating class. The season is still about a year away, but he believes next year’s prospects are extremely bright.
“I think we’re ready to go,” Cowitch said.