Penn-Trafford volleyball craves return to WPIAL playoffs
Friday, September 13, 2019 | 6:52 PM
The Penn-Trafford girls volleyball team has been a consistent presence in the WPIAL playoffs over the last decade. The Warriors have been in the postseason eight of the previous 10 years.
But after failing to advance last year, Penn-Trafford has focused on not falling short two seasons in a row.
“Every team is different,” Penn-Trafford coach Jim Schall said. “I think we have a lot of kids returning who didn’t like how last year ended up. It is motivation to have a good year this year.”
The Warriors got off to a solid start this season, opening the Section 3-AAAA schedule with a 2-1 record.
The Warriors lost only three seniors from last season’s team, but that included the team’s leader in kills and blocks in Stephanie O’Donnell, who is now a freshman at Slippery Rock.
“We lost three kids who were all contributors,” Schall said. “But we had some younger players who were pretty talented and contributed to the varsity team. They are a year older and more experienced.”
Leading the way are the team captains Meghan Alexander and Bella Long. Alexander is a setter but can move to outside hitter if needed. Long is a multi-sport athlete who also plays basketball. The 5-foot-10 senior has been a force at outside hitter.
“Bella is one of the more experienced kids,” Schall said. “She is a really good all-around player for the team.”
Senior Emily Biroscak and Maeve Kelly have started on the left side.
Junior Julia Hauck is in her second season at middle hitter.
“She has gotten better as a blocker and her hitting has improved,” Schall said. “She had a really good match against Hempfield. She has worked hard every day to get better.”
A new member of the team is Jude Lovre. After playing field hockey last season, the sophomore moved to the volleyball court and stepped into the middle hitter position.
“She played volleyball before,” Schall said. “She decided not to try out for JV last season but came back this year. She has done really well as a middle hitter.”
Schall also praised the effort of his back-row players — senior liebro Mackenzie MacFarlane and junior defensive specialists Maddie Suman and Ellia Habura.
Having a roster that is heavy with upperclassmen, Schall said the team’s strength has been its passing. The Warriors have also focused on their hitting.
“We tried to work hard on that,” Schall said. “We want to hit at a higher level. But it is coming along.”
With wins over Latrobe and Connellsville, Penn-Trafford is ready to climb the section standings. But instead of focusing on opponents, Schall wants his team to concentrate on themselves.
“I just want them to continue to do well in practice,” Schall said. “I think if we do that, we will get some wins. I would like to be a playoff team. If we continue to work hard, the wins and losses should take care of themselves.”