Record-breaking year ends for Penn-Trafford boys volleyball
TribLIVE Sports Videos
For the second time in less than a month, the Penn-Trafford volleyball team stood one game away from establishing a program first. Like the first time, however, the Warriors came up just short.
Penn-Trafford's season ended with a 3-2 loss to rival Norwin last Thursday in the WPIAL Class AAA consolation match at Baldwin. The Warriors led Norwin, 2-1, after three games, but the Knights rallied to win the match and claimed the final WPIAL berth in the PIAA playoffs.
Penn-Trafford, which was seeking its first state playoffs appearance, lost in five games to Norwin for the second time this month. A 3-2 loss to the Knights on May 9 denied the Warriors their first-ever section title.
Despite the disappointing ending, however, the Warriors said the season more for their overall success. The team advanced to the WPIAL semifinals for the first time in program history.
“That game (Thursday) really did not define our team this year,” senior Jacob Byers said. “We came a long way. We took the program farther than it's ever gone this year, and we're very grateful for that. We're proud of ourselves for that and all that we accomplished this year.”
Penn-Trafford began the season by winning its first 13 matches, including the first nine in section play, and qualified for the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
A 3-0 win over Fox Chapel in the quarterfinals allowed the Warriors to advance to the WPIAL's “Final Four” for the first time in program history. The team lost to eventual WPIAL champion North Allegheny in the semifinals before the consolation loss to Norwin.
“It would've been great to win another match, but the guys really played hard (and) battled all year,” coach Jim Schall said. “Even with (the 13-0 start), we had some injuries, some significant injuries we had to deal with, (and) some sickness. Guys battled through it. I'm real happy with the way the guys handled the whole year and proud of how much we accomplished.”
The Warriors dealt with the absences of juniors Sam Kavel (back injury) and Jarod Zeckowski (illness) for much of the second half of the year but still managed to earn second place in the section as seniors like setter Cameron Artz, Byers, Ethan Gelpi and Jesse Paluzzi filled in and played well.
“I think the other guys on the team were pretty determined to make sure we play at a high level without them, and they definitely carried a big part of the load while Sam and Jarod were out,” Schall said. “We had some other guys fill in, and (they) did a really nice job. That shows we had some pretty good players behind those guys.”
Penn-Trafford will have to rely on its depth again next year, as six seniors — Artz, Byers, Gelpi, Paluzzi, Tyler Wyckoff and Alex Zabelsky — will graduate from this season's team.
Artz was voted to the all-WPIAL second team last week along with Kavel, while Byers was voted to the first team.
“(Making the all-WPIAL team) was one of my goals whenever I started playing because one of my idols was (2011 Penn-Trafford graduate) Joe Bortak,” Byers said. “He was really a role model for me, and he made (the) all-WPIAL team. I just thought it was such a great achievement to do that.
“When they announced my name, I was just speechless. It was such an honor.”
Despite his graduation and that of his fellow seniors, Byers believes the team has enough talent to take the program to greater heights next year.
And with the way this season ended, motivation likely won't be a problem, either.
“(The Final Four) is a pretty neat atmosphere, and it's nice to be in that situation,” Schall said. “The guys have a better feel for the possibilities and should have that confidence to know that we can get there. It was definitely a good experience, even though we were the last team out. It'll be a new year with new guys, but I think it would have to be motivating for the returning guys.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.
Show commenting policy
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.