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Plum's Pietropola gives verbal to Youngstown State

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Matt Grubba | For The Plum Advance Leader
Plum senior Krista Pietropola gave a verbal commitment last week to continue her education and basketball pursuits at Youngstown State University.

Krista Pietropola often is at LA Fitness in Monroeville working out to stay in shape and keep her basketball skills sharp.

She also is in the middle of preparations for the Plum varsity girls basketball team's 2013-14 season through open-gym workouts, weight-training sessions and preseason tournaments.

Pietropola has eyes on helping the Mustangs fare well in section play and return to the WPIAL playoffs.

A great deal of talent returns from last year's squad that went 9-3 in Section 2-AAAA, finished 17-6 overall and qualified for the postseason.

Pietropola also has eyes on her future when her time at Plum is completed.

She recently gave a verbal commitment to continue her education and basketball pursuits at Division I Youngstown State University.

“It's always been my dream to go Division I,” she said.

“There were other schools that I loved, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity. Youngstown State fit everything I wanted in a school.”

She is expected to make her decision final during the early signing period for basketball next month.

Pietropola, who looked at other schools in Division I such as Bucknell, Rider, Cornell, Robert Morris and St. Francis (Pa.), as well as Shippensburg and Slippery Rock in Division II, said finding a good fit for her major of physical therapy was a top priority before continuing with a school on the basketball side of things.

Pietropola said she is excited to see what she can do with the Penguins under new head coach John Barnes, who most recently served as the associate head coach at Green Bay.

The Phoenix won the Horizon League regular-season and tournament titles, finished 29-2 and suffered a tough NCAA Tournament first-round loss to LSU.

Barnes also has coached in the Big Ten at Michigan.

“(Coach Barnes) has great experience with Division I basketball,” Pietropola said.

“They run a trap-style defense which I think will fit me very well. I am long for a guard. I think that is why he started to recruit me, because I fit the defense so well.”

Youngstown State finished 23-10 last year, and it was the program's best record since the 1999-2000 season.

The team finished second in the Horizon League regular season, advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament and went 1-1 in the Women's NIT.

Pietropola is the second Plum senior to make a verbal commitment to a Division I school.

In the spring, softball standout Jordan Seneca announced she would play in college at St. Francis (Pa.).

Also, Ronit Yurovsky has made a big impact in tennis at Division I Michigan, and Mustangs soccer senior forward Aaliyah Odom also has garnered attention from a couple of Division I schools.

“The younger athletes (at Plum) see that there is an opportunity (to go Division I), and it pushes them more,” Pietropola said.

“That's nice to see.”

Pietropola said she couldn't have gotten to where she is without a strong support system of family, friends, teammates and coaches.

Pietropola and Seneca are two parts of a Plum girls basketball team that has big hopes and goals for the upcoming season.

Official preseason practices begin Nov. 18.

“I am so excited for the season. We can go as far as we want to go if we put in the hard work,” Pietropola said.

“We've been working very hard this fall with open gyms and tournaments. We played really well in a tournament this past weekend, so we're on the right track.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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