Penn-Trafford volleyball chasing 3rd straight section title
As a four-year starting setter and current Penn-Trafford captain, Taylor Solo has learned all the right answers.
“Everyone has to give 100 percent,” she said when asked the key to her team's success this season. “Just always playing our game and sticking to what we can do.”
Solo isn't alone in this. Her volleyball teammates offered the same words of focus and confidence in their abilities.
“I think we just all need high energy and high spirits going into it,” junior hitter Angela Tarabrella said, “and we need to just come out on our ‘A' game and do our best.”
For the first time in Solo's career the starting squad is made up entirely of upperclassmen. This is a team that knows how to win. They're not in it to mess around, she said.
The team was dressed and hitting prior to the start of Thursday's practice, even before coach Jim Schall entered the gym.
They warm up with a purpose and practice the same way, well aware of what they need to work on.
“As time goes on we see the best teams,” Schall said, “and even in our matches so far, our serve-receive is average. Any time we've struggled that's probably an area we've struggled in.”
From the outside looking in it's hard to say the Warriors have struggled this year, starting at 6-0 and 5-0 in Section 1-AAA, their sights set on winning a third straight section title.
But being average in any part of the game isn't good enough for Schall.
So they keep working.
“We serve and pass every practice,” Solo said. “We always work on one of the two or both together. (Schall) is really strict about that.”
But the girls understand the value of drilling the basics.
“We do a lot of playing, and we do a lot of serve and pass because that's the main part of the game,” Tarabrella said.
“That's how it starts,” junior outside hitter Maria Palarino added. “Without a good pass, you can't get a good hit. They all feed off each other.”
Because this year's team is loaded with upperclassmen talent — including seniors Stephanie Jones, Sydni Werksman and Caitlyn Petrosky — they've set the bar high for themselves mentally.
Yet they haven't become too future-sighted.
“First focus on the section,” Palarino said, “and we'll see what happens after that in the playoffs.”
Schall may know that his team is built to make a deep run in the WPIAL playoffs this year, but he'd rather let the season speak for itself.
“It's early,” he said. “I'm happy with how we're doing, but I think it's still early in the season. I guess we'll prove ourselves as we go throughout the year.”
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.