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Penn-Trafford girls volleyball living up to expectations

| Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Penn Trafford's Taylor Solo sets a ball during a match against Norwin at Norwin on Tuesday, September 25, 2012. Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review

Penn-Trafford girls volleyball coach Jim Schall believes his team has played well this season — with one notable exception.

In the second weekend of the season, the Warriors played at the Shaler Tournament. The team finished in eighth place out of 18 teams — a finish that didn't exactly sit well with Schall.

“I just didn't feel like we played our best all day,” Schall said. “Most teams, you can't get away with not playing your best. That's what happened. But I think we'll learn from that, and it's early in the season, too.”

Outside of that performance, the Warriors have continued the work they started the past two seasons, when they won back-to-back section championships.

After a 3-0 nonsection victory Monday night against Greensburg Salem, Penn-Trafford is 5-0 overall and 4-0 in section play.

“The season's been going well,” senior setter Taylor Solo said. “I'm really impressed with our starting lineup. We've been doing well and playing well together.”

The 4-0 section start includes a 3-2 road victory at Hempfield on Sept. 3. The Spartans made the WPIAL playoffs last season, and Schall considers them one of the biggest challengers for the section championship this season.

“It was nice to know we could all come together to have such a big win,” senior Caitlyn Petrosky said.

This year's Penn-Trafford team looks a bit different than last year's, which relied on an experienced back line defensively. After all of last season's defensive-only players graduated, Schall is using more players — such as seniors Solo and Stephanie Jones and juniors Maria Palarino and Angela Tarabrella — all over the court instead of just on the front line.

Petrosky and senior Sydni Werksman are also playing a valuable role on the back end, Schall said.

“We have four kids playing all the way around, so in most games we've really only used two back-row people,” he said. “Sydni Worksman and Caitlin Petrosky (have) done pretty well. ... I'd say the back row people to this point have kind of held their own.”

While the team's defense can still use some work, Schall said, the hitting remains a strength. Led by Solo, an experienced crop of hitters is helping the team win matches early on.

“Taylor's a very good setter, and that makes a big difference to have somebody in that spot touching the ball all the time,” Schall said. “But we have a number of hitters who are doing well. We have several pretty good players who are going to do well in any situation.”

Penn-Trafford traveled to Latrobe on Wednesday and will close out the first half of the section season with a home match against Norwin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The section championship — a third in a row — remains one of the team's top goals for this season.

“We hope it continues on for longer than that, but three would be pretty good,” Solo said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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