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Shaler girls volleyball team primed for playoffs

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Louis Raggiunti | Shaler Journal
Shaler outside hitter Liz Klein is one oa a talented group of juniors who spark a very good Shaler volleyball team.
Louis Raggiunti | Shaler Journal
Shaler's Annie Bozzo is at the heart of a team that has WPIAL championship hopes.

Two years ago, the Shaler Lady Titans were a team in transition. It was a team that was used to success, but due to heavy graduation loss, it was in rebuilding mode.

Shaler took its lumps, but at the heart of that team was a core of freshmen who are now juniors. The experience and skill level of the players has meshed, and Shaler once again is a WPIAL title contender.

Setters Annie Bozzo and Natilie Pilewski are joined by outside hitter Nicole Pilewski outside hitter Liz Klein and Hannah Bradford as a strong junior class that anchors the team.

In a tuneup for the playoffs, Shaler shut down Woodland Hills, 3-0.

Shaler played tough at the net and chased down errant hits, turning them into points.

This never-give-up style of play will serve the Lady Titans well in the playoffs.

“You never know what your seed will be,” Shaler coach Kris Ruppert said. “We will keep working on our game and improve on our weaknesses and hope for a strong showing.”

Ruppert said the team is strong in the serving game and has worked on playing well at the net.

“We did some jump training because of our size,” Ruppert said.

Only Bozzo, sophomore Julia Bernesser and freshman Sydney Schmitt stand taller than 5-foot-9.

Despite a lack of overall size, the Lady Titans still give opponents matchup problems.

“We are a strong team, and we get along on and off the court,” Bozzo said. “The key to winning in the playoffs will be playing disciplined in practice and games.

“Coach Ruppert has drilled into us that we have to finish games. We condition hard, and (that and) staying disciplined are the two most important things.”

Fellow setter Natalie Pilewski said playing at their own tempo is another factor that will help Shaler play well when it matters most.

“If we are in the right place, stay consistent and don't play (down) to the competition (we will be OK),” Pilewski said.

“It is hard to play a perfect game, but to win our coach told us we have to play perfect. Mistakes will cost you (in the playoffs).”

Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or jeclark@tribweb.com.

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