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Liberty aims to compete

Liberty’s volleyball team might be smaller than it has been in recent years, but head coach Mike Zile hopes it doesn’t detract them from their ultimate goal of getting to the postseason.

The Hurricanes finished 11-5 last year and lost to defending state champion Parkland in the EPC semifinals and Whitehall in the district quarters.

With 18 players on varsity last year, that number is down to 12 this year, but Zile knows he has a quality group despite the reduction in bodies.

“We had 18 players competing last year and they all bought into keeping the roster large so we could keep varsity as strong as possible,” said Zile. “It paid off where we were able to qualify for EPC and District XI AAA playoffs and made a solid run in each. We have approximately 12 on our varsity this season which is still a good number but not as deep for practices. We’ve got a motivated senior class of seven players that are leading the way in 2024.”

Back for Liberty this year are seniors Bryce Fenstermaker, Weston Greer, Cristian Matos, Connor McLaughlin, Adam Mittl, Ethan Roan and sophomore Frank Benedetto.

Newcomers include senior Angel Rivera; juniors Danny King and Gavin Wachinski; sophomores Keagan Dougherty and Kadien Hannah-Mitchell.

“Returning seniors and starters since freshman year, Adam Mittl (EPC 1st team and on the AVCA All America Watch List for 2024) and Cristian Matos (EPC 3rd team), will help lead the way with varsity,” Zile said. “We are light with two returning juniors although we have a handful of newcomer juniors and a total JV roster of 15 that are learning. The returning sophomores will help bridge the gap as the new players learn. The league competition is tough where we hope to get to the EPC playoffs again, to qualify for districts, and make a run in both.”

Liberty got to see how much they need to work on right off the bat with a loss to Parkland on Monday in their league opener, but Zile knows it’s a daily process in the EPC.

“We really need to take each match one at a time,” he said. “The league is tough. We have a couple of tough nonleague matches against Delaware Valley and Exeter along with the Red Rover Invitational and Koller Classic tournaments that should help keep us sharp and a contender in the league. The top teams in the league are tough. Emmaus, Freedom, Nazareth, Whitehall, and Southern Lehigh (nonleague) all beat us in 2023 where we know they will be tough again. The league changes each season and there are a lot of great coaches out there so we’ve got to approach every match the same way as any team can win on any given night.”

Adam Mittl, shown here in a game from last season, is back this year and recently earned his 1,000th assist.