Share This Page

Despite tough times, Latrobe volleyball advanced to postseason

| Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Daniel Kubus | For The Tribune-Review
Latrobe head coach Drew Vosefski watches on as setter Adam Kniffen serves while the Latrobe Wildcats defeat the Hempfield Spartans, 3-1, on May 9, 2013, at Latrobe High School.
Daniel Kubus | For The Tribune-Review
Latrobe setter Adam Kniffen celebrates a point with hitter Blake Reeping as the Latrobe Wildcats defeat the Hempfield Spartans, 3-1, May 9, 2013, at Latrobe High School.
Daniel Kubus | For The Tribune-Review
Latrobe hitter Blake Reeping spikes the ball over Hempfield blocker Nate Irwin as the Latrobe Wildcats defeat the Hempfield Spartans, 3-1, on May 9, 2013, at Greater Latrobe High School.
Daniel Kubus | For The Tribune-Review
Latrobe hitter Blake Reeping spikes the ball past Hempfield blocker Mike Naumann as the Latrobe Wildcats defeat the Hempfield Spartans, 3-1, on May 9, 2013, at Greater Latrobe High School.
Daniel Kubus | For The Tribune-Review
Latrobe coach Drew Vosefski talks with setter Adam Kniffen after the second set as the Wildcats defeat the Hempfield Spartans, 3-1, on May 9, 2013, at Greater Latrobe High School.
Daniel Kubus | For The Tribune-Review
Latrobe hitter Matt Dunlap spikes the ball past Hempfield blocker Mike Naumann as the Latrobe Wildcats defeat the Hempfield Spartans, 3-1, on May 9, 2013, at Greater Latrobe High School.
Daniel Kubus | For The Tribune-Review
Latrobe hitter Blake Reeping spikes the ball as the Latrobe Wildcats defeat the Hempfield Spartans, 3-1, on May 9, 2013, at Greater Latrobe High School.

Latrobe, sporting a full roster just in time for the postseason, was hoping to make an impressive showing in the WPIAL boys volleyball playoffs beginning Tuesday.

The Wildcats entered the year with high expectations but struggled through tough times, losing two players to injuries and another to a nearly season-long suspension.

Despite the obstacles, they overcame a shaky 2-3 start and surged to an 8-5 record with a patchwork lineup.

“We have a very talented team. We weathered a bunch of storms early in the season,” coach Drew Vosefski said.

Latrobe entered the WPIAL postseason as the fourth-place team from Section 3-AAA with a 7-5 mark.

“There's always an attitude in the gym to win games,” said senior Joe Wojciechowski, a 6-foot-3 middle/outside hitter who missed time early in the year with a severely sprained ankle. “With every new player that comes out to the team, from Day 1, the attitude is instilled in them to win games, and there's nothing else to do there but win games.”

Latrobe senior libero Alex Rutigliano also had to overcome a stress fracture in his foot, which worsened as the season wore on.

“It had gotten to the point with Alex where he couldn't keep up his efforts, and he had to stop playing and wear a boot for about a week,” Vosefski said.

“Both of those injuries happened at the same time. When you take away two senior leaders, you tend to have to shake up your lineup. We went through six different lineup changes, but we had some guys who stepped up and played the game at a high level.”

Among them is little-used junior center Robert Gunther, who entered the varsity lineup as a starter for the first time in his high school career when 6-foot-4 senior Adam Kniffen was required to miss much of the year on a suspension handed down by the Latrobe administration.

Kniffen and Wojciechowski, both committed to play at St. Francis (Pa.), form a potent duo for Latrobe.

Vosefski said Gunther had help from the team's relief corps while the major players were sidelined, led by a pair of versatile players in 6-1 junior T.J. Green and 6-0 sophomore Vince Bonar.

“They both played great defense for us,” Vosefski said. “T.J. is just so versatile. He could play any position for us, if needed.”

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dmackall@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.