Senior 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 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 play 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 also had scholarship offers from Slippery Rock, Shippensburg and University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
She had interest from Bucknell, Rider, Cornell, Robert Morris and St. Francis (Pa.). She said finding a good fit for her major of physical therapy was a top priority before continuing with her basketball career.
Pietropola, who averaged 16.8 points last season, said she is excited to see what she can do with the Penguins.
“(Coach John 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 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 and Seneca are two parts of a Plum girls basketball team that has big hopes and goals for the upcoming season.
Official preseason practice begins Nov. 18.
“I am so excited for the season. We can go as far as we want to go if we put in the hardwork,”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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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