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Early-season injuries not derailing Latrobe volleyball

| Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Garrett Kollar spikes as Shaler's Max Reno goes up to block during their April 6, 2013, match at the Derry Invitational tournament in Derry Township.

Injuries are a part of any sport.

Members of the Latrobe boys volleyball team are all too familiar with that fact.

With senior middle hitter Joe Wojciechowski, a 2012 All-WPIAL selection, sidelined with a rolled ankle, and senior libero Alex Rutigliano suffering from a stress fracture in his foot, the Wildcats have been forced to play shorthanded.

Fortunately for Latrobe, the Wildcats are a veteran team with plenty of upperclassmen to assume more responsibility while Wojciechowski and Rutigliano are recover.

“Luckily we have seven seniors this year, so we have a lot of senior leadership that can step into the void and help us out and we have some strong juniors…,” coach Drew Vosefski said. “We'll have a little transition period, but we've got the horses to step up and bridge the gap until the starters get back.”

According to Vosefski, two of the players who have assumed leadership roles have been junior outside hitter Kevin Gibson and junior middle hitter Garrett Kolar.

They have each been a big reason why the Wildcats have been able to maintain a 2-1 record through three games in Section 3-AAA.

Senior Matt Dunlap and Nathan Korata have filled in on the court for the injured pair.

Vosefski said they have embodied everything that this year's team stands for.

“It's just the willingness to give for the team,” he said. “Whatever it takes, they're willing to do it. Some are playing out of position to make sure that we have a potent offense, and it's one thing I'll say about my guys is that the individual goals are secondary to the team goals.”

A silver lining to the injuries is that it allows players like Dunlap and Korata to receive increased playing time for the next couple of weeks as the injured players continue to rehabilitate, making the team stronger going forward.

“That experience is invaluable,” Vosefski said. “When you have people that I can send off the bench now and have that playing experience where you don't even lose a step, that's what makes you a stronger team.”

The Wildcats certainly aren't using any injury as an excuse either, as their goal of competing for a WPIAL championship is still the primary objective for this season.

“We don't lower our bar from anything we set our goals for at the beginning of the season,” Vosefski said. “We may have to take a little direction to get there, but we're not going to lower our goals.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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