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Unofficial mascot a lighthearted addition to Plum volleyball season

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:29 p.m.
Plum Advance Leader
Plum senior Denise Polishen gets set to deliver a serve during a match against Gateway on Sept. 27, 2012. Gary Bills | Plum Advance Leader
Plum Advance Leader
Gary The Snail from the children's animated television series 'SpongeBob SquarePants' has become the unofficial mascot of the Plum varsity girls volleyball team. Gary Bills | Plum Advance Leader

Gary the Snail is a character on the popular children's animated television series “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

This season, the Plum girls volleyball team adopt- ed him as the team's unofficial mascot, and he is along for the ride at each match.

“We always have him out on the bench,” senior Maria Daughery said.

“It's all in good fun, but it pumps us up.”

The idea to have the toy representation of Gary the Snail with them at each match was generated at a summer team camp at Juniata College.

“(Sophomore) Rachel Satira can do a pretty good impression of (Gary the Snail), and it really showed what a great personality she has.” Plum head coach Kory Flaherty said.

“It really can lighten the mood, and it helps with team bonding. It's something the girls really have fun with.”

The Mustangs have had fun with this season, as they remain in the hunt for a Section 4-AAA title and a spot in the WPIAL playoffs.

Plum played three matches last week, and after two tough losses — including one to section rival Oakland Catholic — the Mustangs were able to right the ship and get back in the win column.

The Mustangs suffered a 3-0 loss to WPIAL AAA power Peters Township on Sept. 24 and fell at Oakland Catholic, 3-1, two days later.

With no day off, Plum returned to the court and produced a 3-0 shutout of McKeesport to up its section record to 6-1.

“It was a long week with three matches,” Flaherty said.

“The girls were relieved to get some of that stress out of the way and get back to playing Plum volleyball. We were able to execute a lot of the little things necessary to get the victory.”

Flaherty said it was, in a way, good to get back on the court quickly after the Oakland Catholic loss.

“We understood that we couldn't afford to hang our heads, and we had to get refocused,” Flaherty said.

“It was a true test of our character and something that made us stronger as a team.”

Plum won't have to wait too long for the rematch with Oakland Catholic, as the two teams meet at Plum on Oct. 11.

“The girls are looking forward to seeing them again,” Flaherty said,

“Getting a win against them late in the section schedule will put us in good position going into the seeding process for the playoffs.”

Plum was scheduled to play Shaler on Tuesday in a rematch of a 3-2 Mustangs victory on Sept. 6.

The match was to be contested past the deadline for this week's edition.

Plum hosts Penn Hills on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Mustangs took care of the Indians, 3-0, when the teams played on Sept. 11.

“Penn Hills is a young team that can serve the ball well and play good defense,” Flaherty said.

We can never take them for granted despite the success we had against them earlier in the season.”

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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