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Dream Weaver: Keystone Senior Turns in Memorable Season on Volleyball Court

KNOX, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Jozee Weaver wasn’t sure how her team was going to survive.

COVID-19 quarantines and protocols shut down the volleyball team at Keystone for two weeks.

(Above, Jozee Weaver, left, and Alyssa Weaver hold the District 9 championship trophy)

To catch up, the Panthers had to play eight matches in 11 days — a grueling stretch that tested the resolve of Weaver and her Keystone teammates.

“We had two weeks where we didn’t get to play at all,” Weaver said. “And then we had to make up all of those games. There was a week where we had a game every day and it was hard going from doing nothing to having all those games in a row.”

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Weaver, a senior outside hitter, was understandably concerned. The goal since Keystone lost to Redbank Valley last year in the District 9 Class 2A title match was to get back and win it this time. The COVID disruption was the kind of thing that can torpedo a season.

Weaver and her teammates, though, weren’t about to let that happen.

Keystone played well during its marathon schedule, reached the district championship match — again squaring off against Redbank Valley — and won it this team. It was the first D9 title for the Panthers’ volleyball team since 1992.

“Just coming back from the quarantines, we developed more as a team,” Weaver said. “I’m really proud of us. We stuck in there. We kept our heads up. We stuck together and played hard.”

The Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association recognized all that hard work recently by naming Weaver and Keystone juniors Leah Exley and Sydney Bell to their District 9 Class 2A All-Star team.

Keystone was the only team to snag three spots.

“It means a lot,” Weaver said. “I’ve been doing it for so long and all the hard work that not just me, but my teammates have put in. It’s nice to see that recognized. It was good to see (Exley and Bell) make it. They deserved that. They work hard, just as hard as me or anyone else. They’re both really good players and it was nice knowing they were right up there with me.”

Keystone volleyball coach Bryan Mong was also pleased that Weaver, Exley and Bell received such recognition.

“It’s always great to have players mentioned in postseason awards, especially when it involves voting that was submitted by our opponents’ coaches,” Mong said. “I have the luxury of working with (Weaver, Exley and Bell) all year long and seeing the efforts they put in, but to have other coaches see the results of their work to the point they acknowledge their feats as well is a high honor for these players. I am extremely proud of them, and the whole team, this year.”

Weaver emerged as another big hitting threat opposite Exley this season with 124 kills. She also had 117 digs and 39 service aces this season.

(Jozee Weaver serves during the district championship match against Redbank Valley)

Bell, a junior, also became a threat at the net with 138 kills. She was also a reliable blocker with 39 this season.

Exley led the team with 231 kills and also added 136 digs and 50 aces.

Weaver is a multi-sport star at Keystone. If she had to rank her sports, volleyball would be listed below basketball and track and field.

“Volleyball is my fun sport,” Weaver said.

That doesn’t mean she slacks off when it comes to working at it.

Her two older sisters played volleyball and Weaver was always around the sport.

Eventually, she started playing, too.

“I always knew the basics of it,” Weaver said. “When I was there I would always pepper with them and stuff. Just gradually, I learned more and more about it.”

Her sisters were never able to win a D9 volleyball crown. Weaver was glad she was able to do it.

Now her focus is on basketball — her No. 1 sports and one she wants to play in college.

She didn’t always want to suit up at the next level. That was a recent revelation.

“I’m still kind of searching,” Weaver said. “I have a couple of offers, and I’m still looking at a bunch of different schools. I haven’t made a choice yet, but I have some schools in mind. I need to make a choice.

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play,” added Weaver, who wants to be a neonatal nurse. “I just didn’t want it to end.”

Following is a list of the players who were named District 9 Class 2A all-stars by the PVCA:

Leah Exley (Keystone), junior outside hitter
Jozee Weaver (Keystone), senior outside hitter
Sydney Bell (Keystone), junior middle hitter
Alivia Huffman (Redbank Valley), junior outside hitter
Caylen Rearick (Redbank Valley), junior libero
Cora Jekielek (Kane), junior outside hitter
Myka Castanzo (Kane), junior libero
Ashton Pangallo (Brookville), senior setter
Ciara Toven (Punxsutawney), sophomore outside hitter

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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