Plum boys volleyball closes out regular season with senior-night triumph
By Michael Love
Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The Plum varsity boys volleyball team entered the WPIAL playoffs with a lot of momentum after wrapping up an 8-4 season in Section 3-AAA action with a 3-1 mark over its final four games.
The Mustangs made quick work of Gateway, 3-0, in their Section 3-AAA finale last Thursday at Plum High School. They won the first two games by 25-10 scores and closed the match out with a 25-11 win in game three.
“They knew what they had to do to get a nice 3-0 win,” Plum head coach Mike Larko Jr. said. “They knew it was important to finish strong for seeding in the playoffs.”
Plum earned the No. 6 seed for the tournament, and were scheduled to play No. 11 seed Seneca Valley on Tuesday evening at Plum High School.
The match was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition.
The Mustangs and Raiders met in a nonsection match during the regular season, and Seneca Valley won, 3-2.
The winner of the first-round contest faces Bethel Park, the No. 3 seed, Thursday at 6 p.m. at Norwin High School.
After a strong showing at its invitational on April 27, Plum went out and gave Penn-Trafford its first section loss after nine straight section victories.
The Mustangs then went toe-to-toe with section champion Norwin, falling in five sets. The Knights went on to claim the section crown with an 11-1 record, as Penn-Trafford finished 10-2.
Plum added a 3-0 win over Hempfield on May 7, and then finished things off with the win over the Gators.
The Mustangs and Latrobe split two section matches this season, but Plum finished in third place in the section, while the Wildcats took fourth at 7-5.
Plum's five seniors — Bryan Parker, Tyler Mitlo, Sean Doyle, Matt Shepherd and Dan Szurley — contributed to the success this season.
“The seniors have worked hard, and I am very proud of them,” Larko said.
“They pushed each other and the younger guys to get better all season. We improved as the season went on. That makes my life as a coach much easier. I couldn't have asked more from them. They are great leaders.”
Mitlo said it was a great feeling to play well together as a team in the seniors' final home game.
“We've been working hard together as a team for four years, and it's awesome to close it out at home with a big win,” he said.
“Coach told us to just have fun, play well and do our best. Friendship has been the biggest thing with this team. Without friends on the team, you don't work as well. We want to be successful for each other. We pushed ourselves through any adversity throughout the season.”
The senior-night experience also was a special one for Doyle, who returned to the team this season after not playing as a junior.
With work and getting up to speed with raising a new son, Doyle decided to take a break from playing.
“It's been great to come back and be a part of the team this season,” Doyle said. “It's always nice to create great memories.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.
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