Taller roster gives Shaler boys volleyball team new look

Sunday, April 24, 2022 | 9:01 AM

Shaler senior outsider hitter Dom Rossi knows the Titans have a different way to build energy than in his previous years with the program.

Featuring a larger frontline, the Titans can put up a strong block against section rivals North Allegheny and Seneca Valley.

“I think the height helps,” Rossi said.

“It gives you energy when you get a big block. We’re able to roll off those moments.”

For the first time since Paul Stadelman took over as the Titans coach, Shaler has some serious size up front.

Tanner Planz is 6-foot-6, Ian Weber is 6-4, Marty Stanton is 6-5 and Luke Hoffman is 6-5.

During the Titans’ 4-2 start, Shaler’s improved block has given the Titans program, previously known for its doggedness on defense, a new look.

“Having bigger guys that can get their hands over the net is helpful with blocking,” Stadelman said.

“It helps get in better spots to make the playoffs. If we don’t get a block, it tends to influence the hitter and what shots they are going after.”

Shaler, which started 3-2 in Section 2-3A play, showed it would be a tough out from its opening match.

Opening the season with Penn-Trafford, the team that swept the Titans out of the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs last season, Shaler scored a 3-0 victory.

Weber led Shaler with four blocks and also added six kills. Sophomore outside hitter Logan Peterson led the team with 13 kills against the Warriors.

The Titans have a tremendous amount of versatility. In Shaler’s 3-0 victory over Pine-Richland on April 14 at home, Planz led the team with nine kills while Rossi contributed eight.

“We’ve done a lot of strength and conditioning to increase our verticals,” Stadelman said.

“We are a better block team. We are more dynamic on offense and are attacking with multiple weapons across the front row at all times. We have a lot of interchangeable parts, which is both challenging and rewarding as a coach.”

There may be no better example of Shaler’s collective versatility than Rossi.

Rossi, who signed recently with Thomas More (Ky.) University to play volleyball in college, was forced into action as a freshman with Shaler as a setter.

During that season, the young Rossi played a vital role in helping the Titans finish third in the WPIAL and win a state playoff match for the first time in program history.

As a senior, Rossi has served Shaler as a strong outside-hitting option.

“I think it shows my versatility,” Rossi said.

“For my club team, I was setter and right-side. I can play anywhere. It shows I can play wherever they want to put me.”

With many players willing to take on different roles to challenge themselves, Shaler now just needs to find a way to put everything together.

The Titans have taken two losses in the section to North Allegheny and Seneca Valley, which will be battling for the top spot in the section. Shaler is hoping to stay in the race for the top and lock in a playoff spot.

The Titans need to take their newfound skills and build off their old identity.

“We have to get more scrappy on defense,” Stadelman said.

“We need to get a little bit more energetic about making splash plays and making really strong defensive and scrappy plays. In the backcourt, we need to do a better job of playing defense.”


More High School Sports

What to watch for in WPIAL sports on May 16, 2022: Baseball, softball playoffs begin
Trib HSSN broadcasts set to begin for baseball, softball, spring sports playoffs
Trib HSSN Baseball Team of the Week for May 15, 2022
Optimistic Plum girls lacrosse team seeks 1st playoff victory
Trib HSSN Baseball Player of the Week for May 15, 2022