Penn-Trafford's season ends with quarterfinal loss
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The Penn-Trafford girls volleyball team came out firing in the first game of its WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal match against Shaler last week.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, Shaler responded with some strong shots of its own.
Penn-Trafford won the first game, 25-11, but Shaler roared back to win the next three (27-25, 25-16 and 25-13) to win the match and eliminate the Warriors from the WPIAL postseason.
“(We had a) very satisfying win (over Canon-McMillan in the first round), and the kids played really hard tonight,” Penn-Trafford coach Jim Schall said. “You get into these situations, and you want your team to play their hardest.
“It's disappointing (because) you want to be good enough to win these kind of matches and be up amongst the very top teams, but overall I thought we played our hearts out tonight. I'm pleased with that.”
The Warriors began the match on strong footing. Shaler won the first two points of the first game, but Penn-Trafford responded with a 7-0 run to take a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Another 7-0 run, after Shaler cut its deficit to 17-10 later, effectively ended the game.
“They made a ton of errors in the first game,” Schall said. “We played well, (but) they just made a ton of errors. You can't rely on a team of that level to give us the game.”
Penn-Trafford's strong play continued in the second game, as the Warriors led for most of the way before Shaler took its first lead at 20-19.
After that, the teams battled back and forth until Penn-Trafford reached game point with a 24-22 lead. Shaler battled back and eventually prevailed, 27-25.
“The second game was big,” Schall said. “I thought we still had a chance there in the fourth (game), but to be up 2-0 would have been key. We had a swing or two at the end of the second game and just couldn't put them away.”
The teams continued to battle back and forth for much of the third game. Shaler junior Annie Bozzo's serving late in the game hurt the Warriors. Bozzo scored four of her five aces in the third game, leading a 9-0 run that broke a 16-16 tie and allowed the Titans to take the lead in the match.
Bozzo finished with 19 kills to go along with her five aces in the match.
“I can't remember her missing one, and even if we did pass well, we had trouble scoring when she served,” Schall said. “Every time she served, she was scoring four (or) five points. It's hard to overcome that in a match. And she's good in the front row, too.”
Shaler carried over its momentum into the fourth game, scoring 13 of the final 16 points to win going away.
“We have maybe at times struggled with our passing,” Schall said. “They served us tough and took us out of what we wanted to do.”
While the Warriors' season ended in disappointing fashion, Schall said he considered the overall season a success. Penn-Trafford beat Canon-McMillan in the first round of the playoffs, exceeding its postseason run from a season ago.
Several solid seniors graduate from this season's team, including a four-year starter at setter in Taylor Solo as well as hitters Deanna Coll, Alex Heiman and Stephanie Jones and defensive stalwarts Caitlyn Petrosky and Sydni Werksman.
“The seniors were just a good group of kids,” Schall said. “I give them a lot of credit for how the team did this year and the way we played (against Canon-McMillan) and tonight, too. They're good kids and really played hard. We'll miss them. We have some good talented underclassmen, too, really good kids. I think they're going to be good players for us next year.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.
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