Pine-Richland volleyball looks to deliver on talent
By: Kevin Lohman
Friday, March 29, 2019 | 8:11 PM
The WPIAL Class AAA boys volleyball champion has emerged from Section 2-AAA in 15 of the past 16 seasons.
North Allegheny and Fox Chapel have won the titles. Pine-Richland wants to join that list.
Rams coach Shawn Grady enters this season with a talented group of players, and though it is too early for the team to be thinking about WPIAL titles, one thing they are set on earning is respect.
“I think there’s an attitude of proving folks wrong. With our section as competitive as it is — North Allegheny being a perennial favorite, Seneca Valley and Shaler looking really good—there’s an awful lot of really good teams in our section, and I don’t think we’re getting much credit,” Grady said.
“I don’t blame anyone. We haven’t performed in the last couple of years, whether it be because of injuries or what have you, but I think the guys are ready to step up and prove people wrong.”
A contributing factor to the Rams falling short of last year’s expectations was an injury to outside hitter Luke Olson. Despite missing multiple games, Olson was awarded first-team all-section honors.
This season, the 6-foot-5 Olson, who is on the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American Watch List, is healthy.
Like Olson, junior Blake Todorowski has been starting since his freshman year. The libero also returns to key his team’s attack.
At the net, Blake Briski will take over as middle hitter. It will be Briski’s first year as a starter, but Grady said he is eager to see the junior step up to fill the role.
After playing outside hitter in Olson’s stead last season, Ethan Wallace is moving to right-side hitter.
Meanwhile, Dave Pohlod will take over at outside hitter opposite Olson. The junior moves from the setter position and will look to provide his team with another dynamic option as a finisher.
“Him being a junior this year, and moving to the outside, he can be that guy to counter with Luke,” Grady said.
“He set for us as a sophomore last year, and I just think he’ll be a name that gets some attention and steps up in a big way. He probably grew 3 or 4 inches in the last year, and we think he can be the guy for us.”