Shaler Area volleyball makes history with win in state playoffs

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Thursday, May 30, 2019 | 10:08 PM


Billy Dadowski didn’t want the Shaler Area boys volleyball team’s first trip to the PIAA Class AAA boys volleyball playoffs to be a footnote in program history.

Just by making the trip to Cochranton last Tuesday to play McDowell, this group became the first volleyball team — boys or girls — in school history to make the states.

The Titans made their PIAA debut a memorable one. Shaler (16-4) dominated the first set 25-9 en route to a 3-1 victory.

“We played really well,” said Dadowski, a junior outside hitter. “We were mentally and physically prepared and took it from there.”

The Titans’ win set them up for a quarterfinal matchup against section rival and defending state champion North Allegheny last Saturday at Penn Hills. Results were too late for this edition.

Shaler coach Paul Stadelman said facing McDowell at the Cambridge Springs Tournament earlier this season was a big boost.

“A constant throughout the season is our biggest plan was to play the game on our half of the net and play the game the way we want to play it,” Stadelman said.

“We wanted to dictate the tempo by how we executed our set. We didn’t want to let anyone dictate how we play. We knew how they were going to attack us.”

The Titans built momentum heading into the state tournament with a strong finish at WPIALs. After falling to Bethel Park in the semifinals, Shaler swept Latrobe, 25-20, 25-19, 25-21, in the third-place match.

Dadowski had a team-high 13 kills, and Steve Hoffman added 10. Trapper Crain had a team-high 10 digs, and Tommy Borgen added 22 assists and seven digs.

“We came out firing. We all wanted to go to states as a team,” Dadowski said. “We put our minds to it. We put our minds in the game.”

Shaler is having its best season despite not having a senior in the lineup.

The Titans were undersized but found a way to play the style they needed.

“Every point, every rally is played the same way,” Stadelman said. “Knowing we need to execute every time and focusing on that in matches and practices. It never felt like we were out of a match. When you have that feeling, knowing you can win, it is a totally different mindset.”

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