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TJ boys volleyball still finding room to grow

Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review - Thomas Jefferson's Luke Good (8) attempts to block in front of Altoona's Adam Borst (13) during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Ken Reabe Jr.  | For The Tribune-Review</em></div>Thomas Jefferson's Luke Good (8) attempts to block in front of Altoona's Adam Borst (13) during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review - Steve Dunlap of Thomas Jefferson attempts to hit over Noah Stewart (10) of Altoona during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Ken Reabe Jr.  | For The Tribune-Review</em></div>Steve Dunlap of Thomas Jefferson attempts to hit over Noah Stewart (10) of Altoona during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
Ken Reabe Jr. | for the South Hills Record - Thomas Jefferson's Luke Good (8) blocks the shot of Altoona's Adam Borst (13) during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Ken Reabe Jr. | for the South Hills Record</em></div>Thomas Jefferson's Luke Good (8) blocks the shot of Altoona's Adam Borst (13) during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review - Thomas Jefferson's Luke Good sets for teammate Chris Serrao (right) during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Ken Reabe Jr.  | For The Tribune-Review</em></div>Thomas Jefferson's Luke Good sets for teammate Chris Serrao (right) during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review - Gabe Cappetta (20) of Thomas Jefferson attempts a shot on Josh Huber (17) and Tyler Wray (21) of Altoona during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Ken Reabe Jr.  | For The Tribune-Review</em></div>Gabe Cappetta (20) of Thomas Jefferson attempts a shot on Josh Huber (17) and Tyler Wray (21) of Altoona during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review - Thomas Jefferson's Gabe Cappetta jumps to block in front of Altoona's Eric Wineland (8) and Noah Stewart (10) during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Ken Reabe Jr.  | For The Tribune-Review</em></div>Thomas Jefferson's Gabe Cappetta jumps to block in front of Altoona's Eric Wineland (8) and Noah Stewart (10) during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review - Christian Valecko of Thomas Jefferson jumps to block in front of Altoona's Josh Huber during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Ken Reabe Jr.  | For The Tribune-Review</em></div>Christian Valecko of Thomas Jefferson jumps to block in front of Altoona's Josh Huber during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review - Steve Dunlap of Thomas Jefferson attempts to shoot over Noah Stewart (10) of Altoona during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Ken Reabe Jr.  | For The Tribune-Review</em></div>Steve Dunlap of Thomas Jefferson attempts to shoot over Noah Stewart (10) of Altoona during the Spartan Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Hempfield High School.

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Standings

Class AAA

Section 1:

Team W-L

Bethel Park 5-0

Peters Township 5-1

Canon-McMillan 5-2

Upper St. Clair 3-2

Baldwin 2-4

Moon 1-4

Central Catholic 0-6

Section 2:

North Allegheny 5-0

Seneca Valley 4-1

Fox Chapel 4-2

Butler 3-2

Pine-Richland 1-4

Shaler 1-4

North Hills 0-5

Section 3:

Norwin 5-0

Penn-Trafford 4-1

Latrobe 3-1

Gateway 2-3

Plum 2-3

Penn Hills 1-4

Hempfield 0-5

Class AA

Section 1:

Ambridge 3-0

Beaver County Christian 3-0

OLSH 2-2

Hopewell 0-3

Montour 0-3

Section 2:

Derry 4-0

Deer Lakes 3-1

West Shamokin 2-2

Summit Academy 1-3

Ford City 0-4

Section 3:

Thomas Jefferson 4-1

Keystone Oaks 3-0

Steel Valley 3-1

Seton-La Salle 2-2

Trinity 1-4

South Park 0-5

Top high school sports

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Justin Criado
Sunday, April 13, 2014, 10:18 p.m.
 

In his four years of starting for Thomas Jefferson, setter Luke Good has seen it all, but he said this year's team is a different feeling.

“The difference between this year's team and the last three I've been on is this team is willing to put in the effort and work,” Good said. “This year's team really wants to win and is focused on winning the section, which is great.”

Midway through the season, the Jaguars (4-2, 4-1) are in the playoff race in Section 3-AA, and coach Frank Staffen said it started with captains Good and Adam Patrick.

“I'd say Luke's one of the best setters in our section,” Staffen said. “To go hand-in-hand with him is our middle hitter, Adam Patrick. Those two work pretty well together. With them being so well timed, they know what to do. They don't even need to communicate.”

Good credited Patrick's willingness to put in the extra work during the winter for his big jump in his second year starting.

“He worked really hard in the offseason and really dedicated more time than anyone expected of him to get better, and it's really paid off for him,” Good said.

The Jaguars' 5-1 formation features five hitters, including juniors Gabe Cappetta and Christian Valecko and sophomore Jake Dobransky, who Staffen said has been a solid utility player.

“He's very good at reading the block,” Staffen said of Dobransky. “He won't overpower you with his shot, but he knows how to hit it. He has a mixture of shots.”

Returning nine starters, the Jaguars don't lack experience, but Good said slow starts have become too common, and that has to change if the team wants to make a deep playoff run, that has to change.

“I honestly don't think we reached our full potential,” Good said. “I don't think we had a whole game where we can say we totally dominated a team.”

A 3-2 comeback win over Steel Valley on April 2 served as a wake-up call. After dropping the first two sets, TJ won the final three to win the match.

“That was a big, emotional one,” Staffen said. “The emotion kicked in, and they realized they had to step up.”

The Jaguars competed at the Hempfield Tournament over the weekend without some starters who were on a school field trip. They advanced to the playoff rounds before losing to Norwin.

Justin Criado is a freelance writer.

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