Plum bowlers happy to be back in action after layoff

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Sunday, January 10, 2021 | 9:01 AM


The Plum varsity bowling teams didn’t have a lot of time between the return to practice Jan. 4 from the three-week state-government imposed shutdown of high school activities and Monday’s scheduled start of the season.

But coach Darryl Pilyih said the dozen combined bowlers on the boys and girls rosters are just grateful to be back on the lanes and are working hard to prepare for everything the season will throw at them.

“We didn’t get a chance to bowl any matches (in December), so we had to make some changes (to the schedule),” he said.

“The kids are excited to compete. They know it will be a challenge, but they are ready.”

Plum was scheduled to kick off its season Monday against Gateway at Nesbit’s Lanes. The match was to be contested past the deadline for this week’s edition.

The Mustangs are slated to host Burrell on Friday.

The East section remained the same from last season, and Plum also will face Penn Hills, Redeemer Lutheran and Valley. The compact schedule will have the Mustangs compete three times next week and also three times the week of Jan. 25.

All of the regular-season matches, set to conclude with back-to-back contests against Valley on Feb. 2 and 3, lead up to the WPIBL team championships Feb. 10-11 and the WPIBL singles tournaments Feb. 17-18.

The Plum boys went 8-2 last year in the East section and finished fifth overall at the WPIBL team championships. They also competed at the Western Regional tournament.

The Mustangs lost team leaders Vincent Cocca (195.40 average for 30 games) and Owen Cirelli (183.13/30 games) to graduation.

Nicholas Daniels is back after a freshman season that saw him sport a 191.13 average for 30 games. He achieved season highs of a 244 game and a 650 series.

“I was a little frustrated knowing that I was getting rusty (during the shutdown) and not able to practice,” Daniels said. “I was wondering if I would be in my prime by the time the season starts. But it was nice to get back with my teammates so we can get ready for the season.”

Also back for the Plum boys are senior Michael Bednar (163.23 average/21 games) and sophomore Sean Endler (162.96/25 games). Both Bednar and Endler had personal-best game scores of 211.

Sophomore Alec VanScyoc and freshman Zach Endler hope to make an impact as newcomers to the varsity lineup.

“I think the boys are ready to challenge for a playoff spot,” boys coach Bob Small said.

“There are different experience levels on the team, but they are really coming together well. They all have the potential to qualify for (WPIBL) singles. They are happy to be back bowling together.”

The Plum girls have four bowlers back with varsity game experience from last year. The team finished in a three-way tie for the top spot in the section with Penn Hills and Burrell at 8-2, but the Mustangs lost out on the playoff-qualifying tiebreaker to the Indians and Bucs.

The team will hit the lanes without out 2020 WPIBL girls singles champion Shannon Small who moved on because of graduation and now bowls in college at Duquesne.

Haley Gabor, a junior, fronted the scoring for the Plum girls last year with a 145.96 average over 27 games bowled. She recorded a season-best 170 game.

“It was nice to wipe away the cobwebs and get back at it,” Gabor said of the return to practice last Monday.

“The (girls) team is looking strong.”

Also returning to varsity are seniors Alana Stecker, Sara Tamuschy and Emily Kimmell. They are joined by freshmen Mareana Pilyih, Jordyn Osche and Rebecca Griffin.

Pilyih’s older sisters, Talia and Brianna, helped the Mustangs bring home the 2016 state team championship.

“There is a lot of potential and optimism for what she can do,” coach Pilyih said. “She is very competitive.”

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

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