Boys volleyball is experiencing some sudden growth in Butler County.
Over the past number of years, Butler, Seneca Valley and Summit Academy nave been the county’s only high schools sporting a varsity program in the sport.
Now Mars and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic are joining the mix.
The Planets will enter WPIAL play this spring, competing in a Class AA section with Summit Academy, Obama Academy, Derry and Deer Lakes.
CWNC’s boys volleyball team — which debuted as junior varsity club team last year — petitioned to join the WPIAL in January. It will compete as a varsity and JV club team this spring before becoming a WPIAL program next year.
“The sport is definitely growing and we have boys interested in playing,” Mars athletic director Scott Heinauer said. “We formed a club team two years ago.
“Our basketball teams are still playing, but some of those kids have expressed interest in playing volleyball this spring.”
Mike Nypaver, an assistant coach at Our Lady of Sacred Heart (OLSH) the past two years, is Mars’ head coach.
“Mike McDonald, our head coach at OLSH, knows Scott Heinauer, learned they were looking for a head coach and recommended me for the position,” Nypaver said.
“We have 23 boys on the roster right now, so we’ll field a junior varsity and varsity team. Ben Colwell is an athletic trainer at Mars and is my assistant coach. He’s talked to some of the basketball players not involved in a sport this spring and they are interested, so I imagine we’ll fet a couple more kids involved.
“We average 12 to 14 boys on the roster at OLSH, so I’m happy with our numbers. Ben has been helpful in getting the word out,” Nypaver added.
Nypaver said the immediate goal is to “make the playoffs in our first year, then see if we can win a couple of games there.”
The Planets’ first home match will be March 27 against South Park.
CWNC’s first home match of its 14-game club schedule this year is March 28 against Steel Valley. That will also mark the Tropjans’ first-ever home volleyball match.
“Our gym floor was in need of some work last spring, so we had to play all our matches on the road,” CWNC assistant coach and Cranberry Township resident Dan Huddleston said. “The kids are really looking forward to finally being able to play in their own gym.”
Stacie Ball, also a Cranberry resident, is the Trojans’ head coach. She had coached youth volleyball at St. Alphonsus in Wexford and played varsity volleyball at Fisher Catholic High School in Ohio.
“I’ve had the bug for a long time,” she said of the sport.
There are 14 boys — no seniors — on the CWNC roster this year. Among them are juniors Joe Palaski of Seven Fields, Michael Drambel and Nate Pudlo of Cranberry Township, sophomores Trevor Huddleston of Cranberry Township and Jake Swidorsky of Freedom, freshmen Josh Ball and Alex Dudash of Cranberry Township, Tim Roos of Valencia and Thomas Franco of Mars.
“There is definite talent here,” Ball said. “We took second place at the Peters Township Tournament last year and were only seeded seventh. We beat established programs in OLSH and Canon-McMillan.
“We’re working hard in learning the basics and how to play the game the right way.”
The WPIAL has 22 boys volleyball teams in Class AAA and 17 in Class AA this year. CWNC’s club schedule this season includes Moon, Keystone Oaks, North Hills and Plum. Summit Academy is the only county team on its schedule.