ShareThis Page

Plum volleyball seeks momentum before WPIAL playoffs begin

Michael Love
| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 5:57 p.m.

Senior Greg Ionadi, left, and junior Jack Murray get into position during a pool-play game at the Plum Invitational Tournament on April 26, 2014.
Michael Love | Plum Advance Leader
Senior Greg Ionadi, left, and junior Jack Murray get into position during a pool-play game at the Plum Invitational Tournament on April 26, 2014.

The WPIAL boys volleyball committee is scheduled to meet Monday to decide the pairings for the Class AAA championship tournament.

The first set of games tentatively is set to begin Tuesday with a champion to be decided on May 23.

Plum again is a part of the 12-team field — with four teams from each of the three AAA sections — and head coach Mike Larko Jr. hopes his team can build some steam as it enters postseason play.

The Mustangs entered this week 4-6 in Section 3 action and were slated to host Hempfield on Tuesday in a match that was to be contested past the deadline for this week's edition.

Plum visits Gateway to close out section play Thursday evening at 7:30.

The Mustangs hope to complete a season sweep and prevent the Gators, who are eliminated from playoff contention, from earning a big win to cap their campaign.

“We want to build some good momentum going into playoffs,” Larko said.

“WPIALs is definitely up for grabs. There aren't one or two teams beating everyone else 3-0. If you get some good momentum at the right time, you can definitely make a run. We hope to be a team that can do that.”

Larko said he hopes his team can rebound from a string of recent 3-0 losses to the top three teams in the section — Greater Latrobe, Penn-Trafford and Norwin.

“The first time through, we played all three teams tough,” Larko said.

“The matches could've gone either way. The second time through, though, I don't think we played well, especially against Penn-Trafford and Norwin coming out of our (Plum Invitational) tournament. I thought we looked good at the tournament, but we didn't take advantage of that momentum. But there's nothing we can do about that now. We can learn from the losses and make adjustments. All we can do is look forward and take advantage of the opportunities we have left.”

Plum was to honor this year's five seniors — Brenden Grande, Austin Dedert, Andy Marzullo, Joe Pavia and Greg Ionadi — before the match with Hempfield.

“We're definitely going to miss them next year,” Larko said.

“We've definitely enjoyed coaching them.”

Grande, who missed playing time last year with a concussion and a sprained ankle and time this year with pneumonia, returned to action last week, and Larko hopes he can be a strong factor moving forward.

“He's been definitely unlucky,” Larko said.

“We wish we could've had him on the court for that time, but he's back now, and hopefully we can keep him healthy for the stretch run and into the playoffs. He was really frustrated, but he knows he can't do anything about the past. He's focused on what's ahead and the time he has left in the season.”

Marzullo, Larko said, continues to progress after recovering from a concussion and getting cleared to return to practices and games.

Underclassmen players such as juniors Tyler Arnold, Zach Crowe, Dom Grasso, Jack Murray, Matt Innes, Nathan Kunkel and Khaynen Yocca, Larko said, have been crucial parts to the Plum boys volleyball machine this season.

Larko hopes they can continue to come together for what he hopes is a strong run in the playoffs.

He also hopes they can turn around their playoff fortunes from a year ago

The Mustangs suffered a tough five-set loss to Seneca Valley on their home court in the first round.

Plum also hopes to recall the feeling of a playoff victory such as the one it experienced in 2012 when it shut down Butler, 3-0, in a first-round matchup at Plum High School.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.