Penn-Trafford volleyball has pieces in place to continue success
By: Nathan Smith
Friday, June 1, 2018 | 8:21 PM
If there was any disappointment with the season for Penn-Trafford boys volleyball coach Jim Schall, it's that there wasn't more of it.
The Warriors were upset in their first match of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs as they lost to Seneca Valley, 3-1, in the quarterfinals. Despite the early exit, Schall feels it was a successful season.
“It was disappointing that it ended before we wanted,” Schall said. “But overall, we won some good matches and winning the section was nice. Overall, it was pretty positive.”
The Warriors won the first set over the Raiders, 25-22. But the team then dropped three consecutive sets — 25-18, 25-22, 25-20. It was the first time since 2009 that Penn-Trafford did not win a playoff match.
“They had a couple of hitters who did well,” Schall said. “I just think we couldn't stop a couple of their guys. We were without (senior) Nick Tarabrella, who was out with a gym class injury, so we had to make adjustments. (Freshman) Adam Grove went in and did a good job.
“But it would have really helped to have Nick there.”
Penn-Trafford finished the season 15-3-1. That included a 13-1 mark in Section 3-AAA play as the Warriors won their third consecutive section title.
They only lost twice during the regular season. The first was a 3-1 setback to rival Norwin on April 17. The Warriors then finished the regular season on an 8-1 run. The only blemish was a 3-0 nonsection loss to North Allegheny. The Tigers went on to win the WPIAL Class AAA title.
The Warriors had three players receive all-WPIAL honors. Tarabrella was named to the first team, senior middle hitter Sean Kelly was named to the second team and senior outside hitter Long Paluzzi was named to the third team.
The team has building blocks in place to have another successful run next season. In addition to Grove, the team is set to return junior middle hitter Jake Tappe, junior outside hitter Zach Rapp and junior outside hitter Brayden Puskar.
“It will be similar to this year because we need to replace a lot of guys,” Schall said. “But we have some pretty talented guys coming back. There is a lot of potential.”
But the Warriors will move on without the eight seniors from this season's team. The group has been part of one of the most successful runs in the program's history that includes three section titles, a WPIAL title and another appearance in the WPIAL title game.
The group includes outside hitter/defensive specialist Josh Beers, outside hitter/defensive specialist Mason Conrad, outside hitter Mitch Nedley, middle hitter Ryan Schiavone, libero Thomas Shaw, Tarabrella, Kelly and Paluzzi.
“It was an overall good group,” Schall said. “We did well for a team who didn't play a lot last year. I thought they would be good players, but we had a really good team the last few years. They waited for their turn and did a really good job this year.
“They used their junior season to improve and were big contributors this year.”
Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.