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Plum middle hitter earns All-WPIAL honors

| Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Michael Love | Plum Advance Leader
Plum’s Tyler Arnold, at left, and Khaynen Yocca were the only two juniors to be voted to the Section 3-AAA all-star first team. The rest were seniors.

Plum junior middle hitter Khaynen Yocca rose to the occasion again this spring for the Plum varsity boys volleyball team, and he helped the Mustangs maintain their tradition of appearances in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

For his efforts, the 6-foot-6 Yocca was voted to the All-WPIAL AAA second team for the 2014 season.

The teams were announced last week during the WPIAL boys volleyball championship games, and Yocca is one of eight players from Section 3 on one of the three All-WPIAL squads.

“Khaynen had a big season, and he definitely was deserving of the honor he got,” Plum head coach Mike Larko Jr. said.

“It was right where we thought he would end up. He really worked hard in the offseason to improve his game, and it has paid off. I'm sure he will continue to work hard, and next season will be even better for him.”

Larko said Yocca really worked on the offensive side of his game in preparation for his junior campaign.

“His height in our offensive is definitely a good thing to have, and he used that to his advantage,” Larko said.

“He has such a powerful swing, and he finished off a ton of points for us. Throughout the year, he also got better defensively. By the end of the year, he was playing all the way around in serve-receive. He's become just an all-around better player.”

Yocca started the all-star honors with a spot on the Section 3 first team, and he was joined on the first team by Plum junior setter Tyler Arnold.

“I really thought Tyler took a big step this season in his development as a setter,” Larko said.

“He's done a great job in running the offense, and he always is working to improve the fundamentals of the position.”

Yocca and Arnold were the only two juniors on the all-section first team, and three other Plum players — junior middle/outside hitter Jack Murray, senior libero Joey Pavia and junior outside/right side hitter Nathan Kunkel — earned spots on the second and honorable-mention teams.

Murray and Pavia were second-team picks, while Kunkel was tabbed as an honorable-mention selection.

Larko said he was pleased to see Pavia get all-star recognition in his final season with the Mustangs, and he also was happy to have four returning players on the all-star squads.

“We know we have shoes to fill with a number of key seniors graduating, but it's nice to know a good core group will be back,” Larko said.

The WPIAL and all-section teams are compiled based on a vote of the teams' head coaches.

Plum finished 6-6 (fourth) in Section 3 play.

The Mustangs faced No. 4 seed Bethel Park in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs, and they suffered a 3-1 loss to the Black Hawks.

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

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