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Defending champ ends Latrobe's season in quarterfinals

| Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The 2014 postseason took an all too familiar course for the Latrobe boys volleyball team.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, their playoff run ended the same way it did last year, with a 3-1 loss to defending champion North Allegheny in the Class AAA quarterfinals.

“They're the best, what can you say? They've proven that over the course of time that they are the best,” Latrobe coach Drew Vosefski said of the seven-time defending champion Tigers. “I thought we presented ourselves and did pretty darn well. There's very few teams that can even take a game off NA throughout the season.”

Latrobe senior Garrett Kollar added: “I never think there is really a good way to end a season this short. Yes, it was a tough loss, but we gave NA a good run, gave 100 percent, had fun.”

Latrobe's first-round opponent was another familiar postseason foe in the Upper St. Clair Panthers and much like last year, the Wildcats emerged victorious. After dropping the second game in its matchup, Latrobe was able to cruise to a 3-1 victory to set up the matchup with North Allegheny.

“Deja vu all over again,” Vosefski said of playing Upper St. Clair in round one. “We had them last year, another traditionally good school, good volleyball program. I just think we were maybe a little more prepared, had a few more horses this year and we were able to overcome a sloppy second game.”

Finishing 9-3 in Section 3-AAA this season, the Wildcats were anchored by a strong senior class that includes Kollar, a George Mason recruit.

Additionally, senior Kevin Gibson led the team in aces (18) and kills (150), while senior Robert Gunther led the Wildcats with 402 assists and senior Zane Harshall led the way with 69 digs. Seniors T.J. Greene and Nathan Carota also played key roles in Latrobe's success.

“It's always tough because most of those kids started out in our junior high program like six years ago so I've seen them all grow up,” Vosefski said of his seniors. “Every year you become attached to them because you've been in their lives for so long that it's like watching your kids go off to college. It's bittersweet, it definitely is.”

Heading into 2015, Latrobe will look to a younger group of players to replace that group. The trio of junior Jared Skoloda and sophomores Jack Fenton and Tommy Kisick, who “is just going to be one heck of a volleyball player,” according to Vosefski, will look to form Latrobe's nucleus along with sophomore John McIntyre.

“With those kinds of kids coming up, we don't lower our sights for anything,” Vosefski said. “Just keep raising the bar and climbing the mountain.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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