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Plum volleyball squad gearing up for own tournament

| Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, 8:58 p.m.
Plum Advance Leader
Michael Love | Plum Advance Leader Seniors Maria Daugherty, at left, and Alyssa Samarco wait for a serve during Thursday's Section 3-AAA match with Shaler at Plum High School.

Tradition takes center stage on Saturday, as the Plum varsity girls volleyball team welcomes 11 teams to Plum High School for the annual Plum Tournament.

Action is set to begin at 8:30 a.m.

“It's definitely something we look forward to every year,” Plum head coach Kory Flaherty said.

“It's nice to play in front of a home crowd for an extended period of time. It's an opportunity for a lot of girls who have played before to come back and watch. It's a big day for the girls.”

The teams in the tournament are Kiski Area, Gateway, Hempfield, McKeesport, Highlands, Deer Lakes, Brentwood, Burrell, Riverview, St. Joseph and Brashear.

Pool play will determine which eight squads advance to the Gold bracket playoffs. The remaining four teams will battle in the Silver bracket. Plum is the defending champion, and it has won six of the past seven Plum Tournaments.

Flaherty said the amount of games at this tournament, including the other tournaments on Plum's schedule, gives him a chance to shake up the lineup a little bit.

“It allows us to give girls some different looks at the court,” he said. “This year more than any other year I've been coaching, I feel I have a good opportunity to go to girls who may not typically start. We have a pretty deep team this year. We have a lot of players who can play different positions. In previous years, I've been a little nervous to try and play girls who might not have as much experience. That is something we've worked on a lot this year.”

This will be Plum's third tournament in as many weekends. The Mustangs started the season at the Butler Tournament, and they played at the Shaler Tournament over the weekend.

Plum will take a break from tournament action until the North Allegheny Tournament on Oct. 20. It will mark the final event of the regular season, and the playoffs will begin only a couple of days later.

“We've had three pretty busy weeks,” Flaherty said.

“Hopefully, the girls aren't getting to fatigued. After the tournament (Saturday), we'll have a few weekends off which will help. We've seen some good competition early in the season, and we're a little more experienced at this point than we have been the last few seasons.”

Plum opened Section 4-AAA play last week and came away with two victories. The Mustangs swept McKeesport, 3-0, and battled down to the wire before putting away Shaler in five sets two days later.

“You never anticipate or hope necessarily to go five sets because that last set is to only 15 points, and it's such a gamble,” Flaherty said.

“But in a way, the girls learned a lot from it. They were put in situations where they needed to fight back. We corrected some of the errors we made in the past and gave ourselves a chance to win at the end. We experienced some things you don't typically see in a quick three-game set. A lot of good came out of it, especially from that last game. When push came to shove, we were aggressive.”

Plum was scheduled to begin competition this week at section foe Penn Hills on Tuesday. The match was to be contested past the deadline for this week's edition.

The Mustangs are slated to host Woodland Hills in a section contest Thursday at 7 p.m. in the main gym at the high school.

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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