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Plum volleyball gets another crack at first-place Oakland Catholic

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Plum varsity girls volleyball team is that much closer to the WPIAL playoffs after a 3-0 Section 4-AAA win at Penn Hills last Thursday.

The victory helped them bounce back from a tough 3-0 home loss against Shaler two days earlier.

“We only have a little more than a week left in the regular season, and we want to finish strong,” Larko said.

“If we have a good week, we can really help ourselves with playoff seeding.”

The Mustangs begin the WPIAL playoffs in about two weeks, and head coach Mike Larko hopes to see solid play from his team at section leader Oakland Catholic on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

The Eagles upended Plum, 3-1, on Sept. 17.

“They know they didn't play well against Oakland Catholic the first time around. They want to get back out there and improve on that and play a complete match,” Larko said.

“Oakland Catholic is very strong defensively and they serve really well. They are a smart team that doesn't hurt themselves with too many mistakes. We have to keep it in play and finish up plays when we can because with a serve that strong, we may not be able to set up a perfect pass every time.”

Plum entered this week 6-3 in section play, and it hoped to build on the record with a win over Woodland Hills at home Tuesday evening.

The match, which was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition, was the annual Dig Pink game to raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer.

“It's a good cause and something the girls are always proud to be involved with,” Larko said.

The team was to wear pink uniforms and the 50-50 plus other monetary donations were to be raised for the cause.

Plum closes out the section slate Tuesday against Gateway, and seniors Colleen Brown, Michelle Theiss, Sarah Carroll, Erin Kelly, Allison Centa and Alexis Witkovitz will be honored in a ceremony before the varsity match.

Brown has returned to the lineup after missing several weeks because of a badly broken finger suffered during warm-ups before an early-season match.

“Colleen is back, but not at 100 percent yet,” Larko said. “She was a little rusty last week, but that will wear off the more games she plays. She works hard in practice. She has good court awareness and is a vocal leader on the court, which is always a plus.

“It was tough to have her out of the lineup. She's worked so hard to get to where she is. It was disappointing because it was such a freak injury. We weren't sure if we were going to get her back at all this season. It's great to have her back.”

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

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