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Penn-Trafford shows determination in playoff win

| Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Penn-Trafford Star
Penn-Trafford senior Stephanie Jones (foreground) awaits a serve during a match against Norwin on Sept. 24, 2013, at Penn-Trafford High School.

The situation didn't look good for the Penn-Trafford girls volleyball team in its playoff opener last week against Canon-McMillan.

Trailing, 2-1, in the match, the Warriors faced a 20-13 deficit late in the fourth game. But just as it appeared Penn-Trafford's season might come to an end, the team responded, winning the fourth game 26-24 and taking the fifth and deciding game 15-11 to prevail in the match and move on to the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals.

“The third game was just back and forth the whole way,” Penn-Trafford coach Jim Schall said. “We had a couple chances to win it at the end, and we ended up losing a heartbreaker (29-27). I still thought we had a shot if we just came out and played well in the fourth game, but we got off to a slow start and didn't really improve for most of the game.

“… (We) just made a great comeback. Things weren't looking great there. They made a few mistakes, too, and we were able to pull out the fourth game, 26-24. After losing a tough third game and the way the beginning of the fourth game went, it just didn't look very good for us.”

The Warriors benefited from a team effort against Canon-McMillan. Senior Stephanie Jones and junior Maria Palarino led the team with 14 kills each, while senior Angela Tarabrella had 13. Senior setter Taylor Solo had 58 assists.

“The kids really played hard,” Schall said. “It was just a very determined effort to win the match.”

With last week's win, Penn-Trafford exceeded its achievements from last season, when the Warriors lost in the first round of the playoffs. The team advanced to the quarterfinals two seasons ago, but Penn-Trafford hadn't advanced past that point since 2006, when the Warriors finished in third place in Class AAA.

“It's pretty exciting to be playing in these situations,” Schall said. “Each year is a new year, but we like to (have) the returning kids and the JV team see us where we're supposed to be at (and) see how exciting it is.”

To advance to the semifinals this season, Penn-Trafford needed a win over Shaler on Tuesday at North Hills. The match ended past the deadline for this week's edition.

Penn-Trafford played Shaler in the first round of the playoffs two seasons ago, winning, 3-0.

“It's a lot of the same kids (on Shaler's team),” Schall said. “They were freshmen then, and now they're juniors. They had a really young team two years ago … I have a decent idea that they're going to be a good team. They have one player who's very good, but I think we have a legitimate shot at them.”

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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