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Mt. Lebanon girls volleyball team spiking opponents

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Mt. Lebanon senior Caroline Grattan digs a serve during a PIAA state playoff game against DuBois Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at Chartiers Valley.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review</em></div>Mt. Lebanon senior Caroline Grattan digs a serve during a PIAA state playoff game against DuBois Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at Chartiers Valley.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Mt. Lebanon senior Caroline Grattan sets up a shot during a PIAA state playoff game against DuBois Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at Chartiers Valley.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review</em></div>Mt. Lebanon senior Caroline Grattan sets up a shot during a PIAA state playoff game against DuBois Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at Chartiers Valley.

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schoolstandings

Class AAAA

1. Peters Township 115

2t. Mt. Lebanon 76

2t. North Allegheny 76

4. Penn-Trafford 74

5. Fox Chapel 67

6. Upper St. Clair 60

7. Seneca Valley 52

8. Bethel Park 51

9. Canon-McMillan 47

10. Pine-Richland 41

Class AAA

1. Mars 102

2. Quaker Valley 96

3. Central Valley 73

4. Hopewell 58

5. South Park 47

6. South Fayette 45

7. Belle Vernon 42

8. Indiana 38

9t. Knoch 37

9t. Thomas Jefferson 37

Class AA

1. Greensburg C.C. 95

2. Shady Side Acad. 67

3. Bishop Canevin 55

4. Seton-La Salle 45

5. Neshannock 36

6t. Bentworth 35

6t. Riverside 35

8. Avonworth 33

9t. Burrell 29

9t. South Allegheny 29

Class A

1. Sewickley Academy 84

2. OLSH 45

3. Serra Catholic 34

4. Springdale 32

5. Riverview 30

6. Vincentian 28

7t. California 20

7t. Frazier 20

7t. Rochester 20

10t. Ellis School 17

10t. Geibel 17

SCORING SYSTEM

Section victories: 1 point

Playoff berth: 1

Playoff victory: 2

WPIAL/PIAA runner-up: 5/15

WPIAL/PIAA title: 10/20

Results for football, soccer, volleyball, and postseason results for all fall sports

+ Classification based on PIAA enrollmen t figures

Top high school sports

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Brian Graham
Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 10:42 p.m.
 

The Mt. Lebanon girls volleyball team cruised through WPIAL competition this season, and now the Blue Devils have their sights set on a PIAA championship.

The Blue Devils captured the sixth WPIAL title in school history and third in six years Saturday after knocking off No. 4 Fox Chapel, 3-1, in the Class AAA championship at Chartiers Valley. Mt. Lebanon (15-2) then defeated District 9 champion DuBois in the PIAA Class AAA first round Tuesday.

“We're really just working to try to get better every time we play,” coach Jeff Schilling said. “We managed to figure out some things in our lineup early this year, and it's worked for us so far.”

The spotlight is on the Blue Devils in this week's Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award feature. Their play on the court is a primary reason why Mt. Lebanon is tied for second place in the Class AAAA standings.

Schilling attributes a high “volleyball IQ” as the reason the Blue Devils have had success this season. Their tallest player — senior Caroline Grattan — stands just 6-foot-1, but her tenacity and ability to attack the net has been key in the postseason trek.

“She is an incredibly demonstrative attacker,” Schilling said. “One of the strengths of our team, normally if you ask about Mt. Lebanon volleyball, is passing and defense. We've handled the ball well, and when we can get the ball into Caroline's hands, she's hard to stop.”

Grattan said she relishes the opportunity to be one of the team's primary point-getters and said she takes pride in the work she's done to achieve that notion. She had 23 kills and 23 digs in the WPIAL title match.

“I've been on the team now for four years, so I've made it a general commitment every season to get better,” she said. “It means a lot to be one of the main attackers on the court. It's difficult to handle sometimes, but it's something I appreciate.”

Grattan is joined by a cast of talented role players, most notably her left-side partner Mary Baich. A sophomore, Baich is expected to fill the void Grattan will leave when she graduates and moves on to Temple University.

Schilling's middle hitters — sophomore Alexa Pavlick and junior Meg Riemer — have demonstrated unexpected athleticism and shown potential for years to come. On the right side, senior Kate Borrelli has acted as the quarterback and has been mentally sharp all season. Libero Kristen Matthis has contributed with her ability to communicate on offense and defense.

“They are very cerebral kids, and they think about the game and want to be students,” Schilling said. “It makes them strive to be better on the court, and they've learned a lot over the course of the season and made the adjustments that have gotten them to the point they are at now.”

The Blue Devils will look to continue their quest for a state championship when they face District 3 third-place finisher Hempfield at 2 p.m. Saturday at State College High School.

For Grattan, she knows winning a state title will be a tall task, but it's a challenge she welcomes.

“I think we're definitely going to have to stay focused in practices and work on skills,” she said. “The thing that is difficult about the state tournament is that you haven't seen any of these teams. You have to learn off the bat how teams are going to play.

“It is going to be exciting.”

The PIAA semifinals are set for Tuesday, and the championship games will be Nov. 17 at Central York High School.

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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