Penn-Trafford boys volleyball peaking at perfect time

Friday, May 20, 2022 | 4:42 PM

The Penn-Trafford volleyball team is picking a good time to play its best.

After finishing third behind Hempfield and Norwin in the difficult WPIAL Class 3A Section 3, the Warriors have put together two solid performances in the WPIAL playoffs.

The Warriors defeated Fox Chapel, 3-1, in the opening round and then stunned No. 3 Hempfield, 3-2, in the quarterfinals. Game scores were 22-25, 25-12, 25-18, 23-25 and 15-13.

Penn-Trafford (12-5) will face No. 2 North Allegheny in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Monday at Fox Chapel.

The Warriors looked nearly flawless in defeating the Spartans, who won both matches during the regular season, 3-1.

“It took us a little longer than expected to start to jell,” Penn-Trafford coach Jim Schall said. “Hempfield and Norwin had great teams, but we’ve become one. We played a great game against Hempfield.”

After dropping a 25-19 decision to the Spartans in Game 1, Schall inserted 6-foot-5 junior Andrew Kessler on the front line. His presence made an immediate impact, and the Warriors started playing with confidence.

They dominated Games 2 and 3 and never allowed Hempfield to play with the lead. Every time the Warriors scored a big point, the energy showed.

Leading the celebration were juniors Daniel Tarabrella and Patrick Schall. Tarabrella was one of the key leaders on the football team, which won PIAA and WPIAL Class 5A titles. He was the leading tackler.

“Andrew always plays well. He does his job,” Tarabrella said. “This was a big win for us. The key was the way we practiced and how motivated we were. We believed in each other.”

Different players stepped up for the Warrior. Unofficially, Kessler ended up with 19 kills, Schall 14, Alex Rugh 12 and Brad Heinbaugh nine.

“Andrew is capable of making those types of plays,” Jim Schall said. “I put him in late in Game 1, and he had a kill. I went with him, and he performed well. Everyone played well, especially Daniel. He was a leader on the court.”

Hempfield coach John Howell said Penn-Trafford was much improved and played a perfect game.

“They played really well, and we had too many unforced mistakes and it cost us. You can’t do that this time of the year.”

Schall said he couldn’t be prouder of his team.

“It was a great team effort,” Schall said. “Honestly, I didn’t think it would take us so long to get good. They beat us twice during the regular season, but we beat them when it counted.”

And now the Warriors are the lone team left from the section playing in the semifinals.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at


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