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Gary Bills | Plum Advance Leader
Plum freshman Clairissa Hankinson gets set to finish off a play during a match against Gateway on Sept. 27, 2012.
Top high school sports
Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:00 p.m.

The Plum varsity girls volleyball team is taking nothing for granted as the Section 4-AAA schedule draws to a close, head coach Kory Flaherty said.

The Mustangs sit in a good position for the WPIAL playoffs, and they have two more chances to solidify their standing for the postseason.

Plum has its focus set squarely on new section rival Oakland Catholic, and the Eagles come to Plum High School on Thursday for a 7 p.m. match.

Oakland Catholic handed Plum its first section loss of the season, 3-1, on Sept. 26, and the Mustangs had won their first five section contests before that match.

“We had a pretty bad taste in our mouth leaving there a couple of weeks ago,” Flaherty said. “We went in with a good game plan and played well at times in the match but just weren't able to get the win. The girls are excited with the opportunity to return the favor.”

Flaherty said he didn't know much about Oakland Catholic at the start of the season. The Eagles, who didn't qualify for the WPIAL playoffs last year, replaced Plum rival Fox Chapel in the section.

Flaherty said he and his players now know a lot about Oakland Catholic, and a level of respect has formed.

“They are a very consistent team,” Flaherty said.

“They don't make mistakes, and they do the little things well. They have the fundamentals that I'm sure every coach wishes his or her team has.

“Now that we have played them and know what talent they have, I hope this can become a good rivalry for both teams. It will be great for our section and great for our team.”

Plum, which entered the week 7-2 in section action, was scheduled to play Woodland Hills in a section match on Tuesday, and the match was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition.

After dealing with Oakland Catholic, the Mustangs turn their attention to a Gateway team who is battling this week for their playoff lives.

The Gators and Mustangs will play this Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the main gym at Plum High School.

“We don't take Gateway lightly, even though we beat them at their place (3-0 on Sept. 20) the first time around,” Flaherty said.

“With (our) loss to Shaler (3-1 last week), we can't afford to take any teams lightly. With it being senior night, there will be so many emotions flowing, and we have to be focused when it's time to play the match.”

Seniors Denise Polishen, Michelle Hanlon, Joanna Lees, Caitlyn McDade, Kendra Anderson, Maria Daugherty and Alyssa Samarco will be honored in a ceremony before the match.

“To have seven seniors out on the court has provided an opportunity for not just the varsity team to learn from them but the junior varsity team as well,” Flaherty said.

“They are a very athletic group, and some of them have been playing together for three years. It's nice to have them develop together and help model the rest of the team after what they've done.”

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

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