Norwin boy’s volleyball spikes again

The Norwin boy’s volleyball team finished 5th in the WPIAL 6A standings and look to stay strong into the playoffs.


Seniors Mike MIhalov (Top Left), Johnny Cinko (Left), and Tim McCabe (Right), pose for their senior volleyball photos.

Anthony Olshanski, Vice President

The 2023 Norwin Knights varsity volleyball team went 13-5 throughout the regular season and capped off the first round with a sweep of Peter’s Township, as the Knights move onto face Canon McMillan on Thursday May 18.

The Knights featured 3 seniors on the team with Tim McCabe, Mike Mihalov, and Johnny Cinko. The team also features a trio of recruited juniors in Jackson Genicola, 2022 All-WPIAL second team member Lucas Churchfield, and setter Troy Horvath.

“As one of the seniors on the team, we make sure everyone is locked and in stay focused throughout,” said Middle-hitter Tim McCabe. “We dress well when we arrive to any game, helping us stay prepared and ready for anything.”

The season was a journey for the Knights, who finished 5th in the section after having stiff competition the entire season. Although this season, on the surface, was a step back after a 15-1 campaign the season before, the team had to be reconstructed after the loss of 10 seniors including the likes of Mason Amic, Jackson Apgar, Collin Denny and more.

Junior Lucas Churchfield (3) sets up for a serve against Peter’s Township. (Amy McCabe/Facebook)

“It all comes through passing and defense,” said Head Coach Mike Palaschak. “As long as you can keep the ball of the floor and keep passing going, you can run through different players in different positions and still succeed.”

Throughout this season, The Knights showed who they really were as they won each game after they lost. The first time the Knights had to battle through adversity was in the 3rd game of the year as the knights lost  to #1 Shaler 0-3. Shaler was ranked as the number 1 team in all of PIAA volleyball when they faced off on Mar. 28.

After a 3-2 start, the Knights needed something to change. Norwin was up 2-0 in the match and were on the heels of a 3-0 victory against Hempfield, until the Knights dragged on the 3rd set of the game and exhausted their momentum, letting Hempfield come back for the 3-2 victory.

“In the beginning of the season, we needed to adjust to our new positioning,” said Junior setter Troy Horvath. “We had the lineup all preseason and once we changed to fit the lineup, our athleticism was able to show and we started to win more games.”

Junior Troy Horvath anth (21) sets up Senior Mike MIhalov (30) for the hit against Pittsburgh Central Catholic. (Amy McCabe/Facebook)

Against Central Catholic, Jackson Genicola (11) recorded 14 kills with Senior Mike Mihalov leading the way with 6 blocks. Their winning ways then continued against Penn Hills and North Hills which saw the likes of Jackson Genicola, Benjamin Tygielski, Nick Puskaric, and Mike Mihalov perform at a high level when the Knights needed it most.

Against Penn-Trafford, the Knights suffered an important loss, and now, changes were going to be made.

“We knew we needed to make changes to adapt to a quicker offense in order to compete,” said Palaschsak. “We changed our setter halfway through the season.”

Boy’s varsity starting lineup pictured while during the national anthem against State College High School. (Amy McCabe/Facebook)

The Knights went on a tear to end the season, finishing 10-3 down the stretch and beating teams among the likes of Peter’s Township, Latrobe, and Hempfield.

After Norwin’s first round victory, the Knights prepare for their toughest challenge of the season, undefeated Canon McMillan (16-0).

“Best thing we did was serving and passing. We have the best back court in the WPIAL; just keeping the ball in play and making sure we stay focus.”

— Head coach Michael Palaschak