Shaler boys volleyball lacks varsity experience but ‘stacks up well’ with top teams
Sunday, April 4, 2021 | 11:01 AM
Ian Weber stepped on the court last Thursday against North Allegheny in an unfamiliar spot.
The Shaler Area junior middle blocker is the only returning starter from the Titans’ 2019 boys volleyball season. That season marked a landmark one. The Titans finished third in the WPIAL and won their first PIAA Class AAA playoff game in school history before bowing to North Allegheny in the quarterfinals.
Now, after 11 seniors missed out after last season was canceled due to the pandemic, Weber is the elder statesman in terms of experience for Shaler.
“It’s definitely odd because I feel like I’m thrust into a new role with a lot of responsibility,” Weber said. “I feel like I can live up to it. There are younger guys on the team who were in the same position I was in two years ago. I want to be a role model for them.”
Before Shaler opened section play against the Tigers, it had a hard time getting the season started. The Titans missed their first scrimmage because they were shut down due to the virus.
Shaler’s first scheduled nonsection match with Penn-Trafford was also canceled because the Warriors were shut down.
Titans coach Paul Stadelman believes a lack of experience won’t be limited to one program.
“I think everyone is low on experience,” Stadelman said. “For NA, a lot of those kids were behind a talented group of kids we played in 2019. Everyone is young and lacks experience, so that’s sort of leveled that playing field. I think we stack up well against the perennially good teams.”
Shaler opened the season ranked third in the WPIAL by the Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association, behind section rivals North Allegheny and Seneca Valley.
Outside hitter Dominc Rossi was named player of the week in Class AAA for Week 1. Stadelman expects setter Peyton Planz and middle blocker Logan Peterson to play important roles.
Rossi believes the Titans will show their grit.
“We just want to give it your all,” Rossi said. “No matter what happens, if I get blocked, my teammates pick me up right away. We want to be able to get big kills and play with high energy.”
Stadelman believes Shaler will continue its recent tradition of success. The Titans have reached the WPIAL playoffs the past three seasons.
“I think the good thing is these kids when they were freshmen, they got to learn from a talented hard-working group of seniors who didn’t get to play last year,” Stadelman said. “They are a young group, exuberant and excited to play. They are putting in the work and time and have great energy.”
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