Deer Lakes, Plum expect tough matches in 1st round of WPIAL boys volleyball playoffs

Friday, May 13, 2022 | 5:57 PM

Last year, the Plum boys volleyball team was the No. 9 seed for the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs, and it defeated No. 8 Trinity in the first round before a matchup with eventual champion Seton LaSalle in the quarterfinals.

The Mustangs hope for a similar first-round outcome as they again are situated in the same 8-9 matchup.

The bracket and pairings for both the Class 3A and Class 2A tournaments were revealed Friday afternoon. Plum drew the No. 8 seed and will take on No. 9 Thomas Jefferson in the first round Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Norwin High School.

The winner between Plum and TJ will face No. 1 OLSH in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

“I definitely think it will be a competitive match,” said Mustangs coach Fisher Bagiatis, whose team finished second to Gateway in Section 2 with a 5-3 record.

“(TJ) has a nice mix of a couple guys who came back from last year and a couple of younger guys who have stepped up to fill spots. I think that seeding, at this point, means very little. We’re going to have to show up with our best game if we want to win.”

Plum is in the playoffs for the second season in a row. The Mustangs missed out on the postseason in 2019, their final one in Class 3A before moving down to Class 2A.

Thomas Jefferson finished third overall in Section 3 behind defending WPIAL champion Seton LaSalle and Trinity.

The Jaguars, as the No. 11 seed last year, upset Deer Lakes in the first round before falling to Ambridge in the quarterfinals.

Deer Lakes and Ambridge, two perennial playoff qualifiers, will meet in the first round Tuesday.

The No. 5 Bridgers will take on the No. 12 Lancers at 6 p.m. at Shaler. The winner will face the winner of No. 4 Gateway and No. 13 Keystone Oaks in the quarterfinals.

Deer Lakes, which has won four WPIAL titles in its history, the most recent one in 2011, finished in a tie for fourth place with Mars (both 1-7) in Section 2. The Lancers and Planets split their season series.

Deer Lakes came into the season with no starters returning from last year.

“The guys are definitely excited for this opportunity to go up against a team like Ambridge who is solid every year,” first-year Lancers coach Kody Putirka said. “It’s going to be a tough match, and we will have to be at our best. The guys have grown throughout the season.”

Putirka pointed to a battle with Mars from Tuesday where the teams went five sets before the Planets pulled out the 3-2 win to punch their playoff tickets.

“It was such a close match,” Putirka said. “We lost, but the guys still were in good spirits. Now, we have to continue to work hard to be ready for Ambridge.”

The Bridgers, the fourth-place team from Section 1, have won nine WPIAL titles since the WPIAL went to two classifications in 2007,and they captured an additional title in 2002.

The semifinals for both Class 3A and Class 2A are May 23 at neutral sites, while the title matches for both will be at 6 and 8 p.m. May 25 at Robert Morris University’s UPMC Events Center.

There also will be consolation matches as the top three teams from both classifications earn berths to the PIAA playoffs.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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