Young Shaler volleyball team punches playoff ticket
Last season, Shaler girls volleyball coach Kris Ruppert was in a rare rebuilding season that saw little in the way of upperclassman talent the way the team had in seasons past.
The squad endured the growing pains of a young team in last year's challenging season, but this season those freshmen, sophomores and juniors are a year wiser and stronger, and playoff-bound once again.
Shaler had nice last week, vanquishing a Penn Hills team on senior night, 3-0, and enjoying a short week due to homecoming festivities.
“We changed the lineup up a little for senior night to give some of the kids a break,” Ruppert said. “The girls have played real well and are peaking at the right time. I am happy (with their play).”
Ruppert said she has a good group of kids who grew up together, have good communication, possess athletic skill and genuinely like each other.
The team showed all those traits against Penn Hills, winning each set handily — 25-8, 25-4 and 25-12.
“We go into each season expecting to make the playoffs,” Ruppert said. “This year the goal is to get into the second round.
“There is a lot of parody this season. There is not one team that really stands out.”
The Lady Titans are growing up with each game, and players like sophomore Annie Bozzo and senior Sydney Golden are helping the team reach its goals.
“It is good to be a senior on this team,” Golden said. “We all help each other and are all good friends. We work hard and push each other.”
Bozzo is making a name for herself as a top-flight talent. Her versatility, size and volleyball intelligence are evident when she is on the court.
Her maturity beyond her years helps a relatively young Shaler team, one that sports only three seniors, Angie LaMonica and Lexi Schwartz being the other two.
The remainder of the team is underclassmen, but letting their age fool you will probably get you beat.
Natalie and Nicole Pilewski and Lizzy Kline are sophomores who either started or saw a lot of playing time as freshmen.
Factor in Hannah Bradford, Liz Rohdes, Laurel Gavin, and you have a team that will be a tough matchup for anyone.
“We are catching up to the older teams,” Ruppert said. “Hopefully we get a little luck and can pull an upset.”
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.