If I could designate a song for this post, it’d be Suburban Knights by the great British band Hard Fi. But then I’d have to pay to use it…
The Norwin Knights edged the Penn Trafford Warriors 3 games to 1. Both teams are going to be tough in the playoffs.
Now comes the tricky part. I hate to name names because this is volleyball; it’s not the guy who scores, it’s how the ball got to him. But, the video allows me to touch on some of my observations, so we’ll use it. One thing I noticed a lot with Norwin was their ability to fool an untrained eye (mine) with a “jump fake.” In this video, Norwin’s Elliot Laratonda sets while Nate Derry jumps, but the hit comes from behind them. It sure looks like the Derry is going to get it, though, so the opposition isn’t prepared for the true location of the return.
In the P-T clips, you’ll notice Joe Bortak with a clever finesse play, followed by some setups and blocks by Drew Reger and Jake Nedley.
Again, the only real way to give the Warriors OR Knights credit is to list the whole roster. And maybe even the rosters of past years. I spoke with Alex Dennison, a 2009 Norwin grad and former MH/RS. He told me that Knights volleyball has a strong history, and that the “worst” finish he could think of was in his own senior year when Norwin was third in Section 3-AAA.
I also spoke with Jennifer Laratonda, the mother of Norwin setter Elliot Laratonda. She explained that Elliot is a multi-sport athlete who plays both basketball and volleyball. However, Elliot made the choice to forgo basketball in lieu of winter volleyball this year. Elliot’s decision stemmed from his love of volleyball, but the result is some really solid play!
Jennifer also let me know that the Knights owe a lot of their success to junior Cody Stitely, who shuts down servers like a virus. “Cody saves [the volley] when no one else is there.” She was right. Stitely received the hard, fast hits and converted them into controllable volleys.
So, overall, we can attribute Norwin’s high level of play to a lot of things. But we cannot leave out their “Xena” cheer…
Cara De Carlo is the admin/editor of Sportsgazelle.com.