By: Ray Fisher
Friday, March 15, 2019 | 7:49 PM
Thomas Jefferson’s senior-laden boys volleyball team ended up 5-5 in section play last season.
The Jaguars are aiming to improve on that record in 2019.
“Our main goal is to fight for the section championship,” coach Frank Staffen said. “We lost a lot of starters (10) from last year, but our players have been working hard in the offseason.”
TJ is a member of Section 3-AA, along with Seton LaSalle, Bishop Canevin, Keystone Oaks and Steel Valley.
“Seton LaSalle is the team to beat,” Staffen said.
Seniors Alex Territ, a 6-foot-4 outside hitter, Brandon Westwood, a 6-2 middle hitter, and P.J. Chonko, a 6-2 right-side hitter, are the Jaguars’ captains.
Territ was a tight end/defensive end on the TJ football team. He has a 4.1 GPA and plans to continue his football career at Washington & Jefferson, where he will major in secondary education for chemistry.
“This year for volleyball we have a really young team and a few first-year seniors that are really developing,” Territ said. “Our strengths are definitely our hitters, but we have a few back-row players and defensive specialists that can really contribute. Our setter is really developing and is athletic enough to get to the ball and make plays.”
Territ is one of the first-year seniors he was talking about. He did play volleyball in middle school.
Other players expected to make an impact include senior Gabe Dominick, a 6-0 defensive specialist/outside hitter; sophomores Joaquin Gardner-Gotera, a 6-2 middle hitter; Brayden Andrisko, a 5-9 libero; and Jake Weber, a 6-0 outside hitter; plus juniors Riley Hovan, a 5-9 setter; and Evan Kempa, a 6-1 outside/right-hitter.
Westwood, Hovan and Andrisko are returning starters.
Dominick, like Territ a TE/DE on the football team, was the winner of the coveted Breisinger Award at TJ.
“We are looking really strong this year,” Dominick said. “The younger players are really stepping up and proving they can play with the best, particularly our libero, Brayden Andrisko. He had some varsity experience last year, but has shown himself a step above the rest. Alex Territ is also a tremendous outside hitter that will be extremely difficult to defend.”
Dominick also is a first-year netter for the Jaguars.
“I was always interested in volleyball,” he said. “Our coach, Frank Staffen, who is also my AP computer science teacher, encouraged me to come to the open gyms and I ended up loving it.”
Juniors E.J. Blaker (MH) and Sam Richard (OH), and sophomore Cody Pavicic (DS/S), round out the squad.
Kempa, Blaker, Richard and Pavicic also are expected to compete for the junior varsity team, as will sophomores Zach Budday (DS), Carson Arthrell (DS), Christian Colosimo (OH), Ethan Held (DS), Colin O’Dea (MH), Anthony Guerrero (S/OH), Robert Pava (OH), Logan Raymond (DS) and Cole Vernet (DS).
Top freshmen prospects in the program include Ian Karel (OH/DS), Evan Savikas (MH), Vincent Scheiding (DS) and Adam Weidmann (OH/MH).
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