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Mooney girls off to fast start



Published: Thu, September 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Cardinals are undefeated (14-0) for the first time in school history.

By BILL SULLIVAN

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- No, that's not a bunch of misprints on the Cardinal Mooney High volleyball roster. There really are two Daltorio sisters, two Pelini siblings and three Donoghue triplets on the varsity.

And, that's not a mistake on the Mooney record -- the Cardinals are off to a 14-0 start for the first time in school history.

Long a football power, many sporting teams at Mooney have recently made a name for themselves. For example, last spring both the baseball and softball teams advanced to regional tournaments.

Currently both Mooney soccer teams are ranked in the state's top 10 in the polls and the undefeated football team could repeat as state champs.

But volleyball?

That the Cardinals are off to a fast start is no surprise to third-year coach, Gary Ludt.

Good coaching background

Ludt, 52, a graduate of North High School, was an assistant volleyball coach at Fitch High School for six years. There, working under Tom Case, Ludt saw the Falcons reach the state volleyball final four twice.

After leaving the Fitch program, Ludt was approached by some parents of Mooney players who wanted him to coach their team.

"Elevating the team," he said of what was expected from him.

"They are really interested and want all the sports to be as good as possible, to be competitive," Ludt said of the Mooney administration.

"They've been great to me with equipment. I needed a new net system and got it.

"We now have a full freshman program. We have a great facility. And, the coaches get along well and support each other."

The Cardinals were 7-12 in Ludt's first season and 17-5 in 2004. Now, benefiting from a fledging area parochial program and the local Junior Olympics, the Cardinals are starting to find their own.

Too many sisters

If the coach can just keep their names straight.

The Daltorios also play basketball and run track at Mooney. Danielle, a senior, is a volleyball defensive specialist while her sophomore sister Dayna is a right-side hitter.

The Pelini sisters both are outside hitters for the Cards. Sarah, a sophomore, also plays basketball while Michelle is a senior.

Then, there's the Donoghue triplets. Kelly, Kirstin and Kaley are sophomores.

The varsity team has one more senior (setter Chelsea Mack), two juniors (middle hitters Victoria Kocanjer and Brittany Bleggi) and three sophomores (hitters Katy Cerni, Jacci Wyman and Edna Robinson).

While the Cardinals may not be seeded in the upcoming Division II tournament where traditional powers Hubbard, Salem and Crestwood will compete, Ludt plans to go to the state tournament again. He has his tickets already, he said.

And, if it's not this year, he plans on it occurring soon. The Mooney junior varsity is 13-0 and the freshmen are 7-0.

sullivan@vindy.com




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