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Plum girls volleyball team earns fifth at Butler Tournament

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Plum varsity girls volleyball team's journey in Section 4-AAA has begun, but before the Mustangs were able to focus on section foes such as McKeesport and Shaler this week, they jumped into the mix at the Butler Tournament on Saturday at Butler High School.

It was the first of four tournaments Plum will play this season in addition to its conference schedule and nonconference matches.

The Mustangs placed fifth out of eight teams at Butler, and first-year head coach Mike Larko Jr. said the field of squads helped his rotation of starters and subs get a feel for the young season.

“It was a very strong tournament from top to bottom, and we wanted to have that,” Larko said.

“The girls like competition. It really let us see what we still need to work on.”

Larko said he didn't know a whole lot about each of the tournament teams before Saturday's event.

“But we knew they've been good for several years in their sections and qualifying for WPIALs,” Larko said.

Plum found itself in a four-team pool with Avonworth, Indiana and West Allegheny.

The Mustangs split with Avonworth and Indiana and lost a pair of games to West Allegheny to finish pool play 2-4.

The two games against West Allegheny were close, as the Indians won, 25-21 and 26-24.

“The two matches with West Allegheny were close and competitive, but we just weren't able to make enough plays,” Larko said.

“A point here and there was the difference in both games.”

Plum advanced to the playoffs and fell to host Butler in one game to 25 in the quarterfinals.

“We looked pretty good at times — we passed well, set well, hit well, served well and played good defense — and other times, we didn't play well,” Larko said.

“You will have that with early-season matches. We knew we would be competitive and have a chance to do well based on our strengths and our talent. We just have to eliminate large swings of momentum.

“The girls were frustrated with games they didn't play well in and were encouraged with games where they played the way they are capable of playing. We have to keep working hard to be more consistent. We have a lot to work on still.”

Plum was scheduled to open section play Tuesday at home against McKeesport. The match was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition.

The Mustangs pay a visit to section foe and 2012 WPIAL playoff qualifier Shaler on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Plum then returns to Shaler High School on Saturday for the Shaler Tournament. Action is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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