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Baldwin boys' volleyball team counting on individual athleticism

| Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
randy jarosz | for the south hills record
Shane Perko is a senior right-side hitter for the Highlanders.

Three seniors and four juniors have been joined by a top sophomore player in the Baldwin boys' varsity volleyball team's starting lineup this season.

“The varsity team as a whole is inexperienced,” Eric Falcione, Baldwin's veteran head coach, said. “The more games, and tough matches they get under their belt, the better off they will be.

“They are a more athletic group then in previous years, so that should help them gel faster.”

Senior starters Nick Jugovic, a defensive specialist; and Shane Perko, a right-side hitter; and juniors Alex Keiser, a setter/right-side hitter; and Patrick Stofanak, a middle hitter; are returning lettermen for the Highlanders.

“Alex will be a fulltime player this year who will not only set but will give us another option as a hitter,” Falcione said. “If he continues to improve, he could be one of the better players to have played at Baldwin in recent years.

“Shane has changed positions over the last three seasons, but has finally settled in at right-side. Since making the change, his stats have risen dramatically. Look for him to have a very solid year.”

The four returning lettermen have been joined by senior setter Dan Costantini, junior outside hitters Ethan McClure and Antonio Parente, plus sophomore middle hitter Terrance Ahlin in the team's starting lineup.

“Terrence is experiencing his first stint at the varsity level,” Falcione said. “He is still a work in progress, but is making huge strides. He may be the hardest worker on the team.”

The leading early season reserves for the Highlanders include seniors Matt Bettilyon (OH), Alex Hissong (RS), Brandon Keller (defense) and Adolphus Tarley (MH); as well as juniors Mike Franklin (MH), Evan Isaacs (S), Matt Kuhn (D) and Luan Pham (D).

“My outlook is much the same as in previous seasons,” Falcione said. “It's a tough section in that most of the teams can beat anyone on a given night. There isn't much room for error.

“Our section includes WPIAL runner-up Bethel Park, who looks to be as strong as last season; Peters Township, who under coach Chris Kelly is again another postseason contender; and Upper St. Clair, who has a new head coach but maintains the same competitive attitude. They will be as tough as always. So Baldwin will get the high-level experience they will need to get better and push to the postseason.”

Baldwin dropped a 3-0 decision to Peters Township last week in its section opener.

The Highlanders will visit Canon-McMillan on Thursday.

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or rfisher@tribweb.com.

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