You could easily say this was one of the best seasons in Delone Catholic High girls' volleyball history. With a young team, the Squirettes reached the Class AA state championship match, where they lost to Fort LeBoeuf 3-1.

Squirettes coach Jason Leppo, however, can easily find a comparable team.

"Hopefully this year's team getting so far was some vindication for last year's team that I think was this good and could've gotten to the state finals and who knows what else," said Leppo, the All-Area Girls' Volleyball Coach of the Year. "Sometimes the ball bounces your way, sometimes it doesn't. This year, it bounced our way more."

Last year, eventual state champion Brandywine Heights eliminated the Squirettes in the first round of the District 3 playoffs. Delone graduated five seniors, including four starters, from that team, leading to a young lineup this season.

But the Squirettes weren't rebuilding. They were retooling.

The junior varsity program is run similarly to the varsity team and has consistently produced talent, a pipeline boosting players upward. That was apparent when Leppo invited JV players to continue practicing after their season ended. They jumped into the varsity practice and were performing well.

"'If we really needed to, there's 22 or 23 kids we could put on a varsity court right now and they'd be OK,'" Leppo told the JV coach. "'They'd know the system, they'd know the pieces.' We're very fortunate we have a lot of that now.



The Squirettes dressed 18 players during the playoffs - the much larger South Western, for comparison's sake, had fewer than 10 when the two schools played in the YAIAA championship match - and Leppo thought more players could've helped them.

One of their biggest matches this season was the District 3 championship. Berks Catholic dominated to build a 2-0 lead, but the Squirettes rallied to win the match. Leppo thought that was vital.

"When you get beat around like that, it's not easy to rebound," Leppo said. "If the third game had played out the way the first two games had played out, I thought it would be very tough for us to lick our wounds and get in the mindset and tell ourselves we'll still be OK."

His team loses six seniors, including setter/outside hitter Allie Mondorff. But don't expect Leppo to be worried. The Squirettes have the depth to continue playing well.

"It's a challenge," he said. "But at the same time, you know, when they come in as freshmen, they're going to graduate in four years. We try to plan ahead and have a general idea at the end of the season what we want to be able to do and what we want to focus on the next season. As coaches, it's up to us to put the pieces together and have success."