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Plum prepares for another shot at WPIALs

| Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, 8:55 p.m.
Plum Advance Leader
Plum sophmore middle hitter Courtney Zezza spikes the ball during a Section 4-AAA matcha against Shaler on Sept. 6, 2012. Gary Bills | Plum Advance Leader

The Section 4-AAA title hopes of the Plum varsity girls volleyball team were dashed last week with a 3-1 loss to undefeated Oakland Catholic, but Mustangs head coach Kory Flaherty said his team can use that experience as a motivating force as they head into the WPIAL playoffs next week.

“The girls took the Oakland Catholic loss about as well as you can,” Flaherty said.

“It was encouraging to see. They recognized that Oakland Catholic is a very strong team, and the only remaining undefeated team in the WPIAL. We know that when all the elements of our game are clicking, we can compete with the top teams.

“We have some work to do where Oakland Catholic took advantage, but I know we can clear those things up in the next week and make a playoff run.”

Plum fell to 8-3 in section play with the loss. The Mustangs took game one, but the Eagles stormed back to win the remaining three games and the match.

Oakland Catholic moved to No. 9 in this week's Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association AAA rankings, joining Fox Chapel (No. 10) as the only WPIAL teams in the top 10.

“(Oakland Catholic) did a good job of adjusting at the net,” Flaherty said.

“We had a game plan to make sure we could get a block on their two big hitters, and we did that very well in the first game. They went to more of dips, rolls and placing the ball instead of swinging against a big block. It made it tough for our defensive players to cover the entire court the remainder of the night.”

Plum shot for a strong end to the section slate Tuesday evening against Gateway on senior night at Plum High School.

Seniors Denise Polishen, Michelle Hanlon, Joanna Lees, Caitlyn McDade, Kendra Anderson, Maria Daugherty and Alyssa Samarco were to be recognized in a ceremony before the match, which was to be contested past the deadline for this week's edition.

Section play in the WPIAL is to conclude Thursday, and the playoff pairings are expected to be announced Monday with games to start a couple of days later.

That is, of course, subject to change.

Plum players will enter the playoffs hoping to end a streak of seven straight first-round losses.

The Mustangs continue playoff preparation Saturday at the annual North Allegheny Tournament.

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

“We look forward to the North Allegheny Tournament every year,” Flaherty said.

“It always is like a preplayoff showcase. You have a chance to go and play against or see some of the teams that will be in the playoffs only a couple of days later. It will give us a chance to see the strengths of several teams we may see in the first round and prepare a game plan. I'm sure we will be taking a lot of notes when we are not playing.”

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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