Penn-Trafford volleyball squad starts out with three straight wins
Penn-Trafford is atop the section in boys volleyball, but the Warriors know the biggest challenges are yet to come.
Back-to-back section wins by 3-0 scores over Hempfield and Gateway last week have Penn-Trafford on top of Section 3-AAA, but beginning this week, the difficulty on the schedule ratchets up.
P-T (3-0, 2-0) was slated to host Penn Hills on Tuesday, after this edition's deadline, before traveling to Plum on Thursday at 7 p.m. and competing in the loaded Derry Tournament on Saturday.
It's not as though P-T's season has been a cakewalk, however, as the Warriors did open up the year with a 7-4 set record and a quarterfinalist finish in the North Allegheny Tournament. Penn-Trafford also defeated Pine-Richland in a nonsection match, 3-2, on March 25.
“It was a good first week for us. We've played 22 games already — 11 at the NA tournament and beating Pine-Richland, 3-2,” Penn-Trafford coach Jim Schall said. “We saw some pretty good competition in those tournaments, and we have two more to go to.”
That his team opened section play against the two teams widely expected to finish at the bottom of the league didn't bother Schall, as he took the opportunity to develop his team's depth after the early out-of-section challenges it faced.
“I think we'll see enough good competition during the year. It's good to have some matches where we can get other guys in and let them compete in a game situation,” Schall said.
With a team largely made up of players who saw varsity action this year, the Warriors are ahead of the game, relative to the same time last season.
Schall said he has been impressed with the teamwork of his players, and noted a strong performance by senior outside hitter Jacob Byers in the season-opening tournament as being a good tone-setter.
“We have a lot of guys returning from last year, and it's nice to see the overall improvement from this time last year,” Schall said. “We were pretty young then, and we've had a bunch of games already where we did things we just weren't capable of last year.”
The steady increase in play will need to continue for P-T, as its section schedule reads like last year's final standings. Games against Plum, Latrobe and Norwin end the Warriors' schedule for both halves of the season, and those same teams are expected to battle for playoff positions again this season.
“Our section will still have a number of good matches coming up, but the tournaments we go to are pretty good practice for us,” Schall said.
“I think, in the long run, we're going to really see how we stack up against the best teams, and that will give us some good stuff to work on.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.