With experienced roster, Penn Hills volleyball ready to shake things up

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Sunday, August 28, 2022 | 9:01 AM


The makeup of the Penn Hills girls volleyball team has Jay Mitlo approaching the upcoming season differently than in seasons past.

Mitlo, who is in his 25th season as head coach, will be mixing and matching his lineups throughout the season. That versatility will allow him to have girls serve in different roles.

While it isn’t necessarily an advantage the Indians have over their opponents, this is a new wrinkle from some of the previous Penn Hills teams.

“I’m not saying it gives us an advantage over our opponents,” Mitlo said. “We have three girls who play club, while most teams have three girls who don’t play club. We have the situational intelligence this year to play a different way. These girls are experienced enough to pull it off.”

Middle hitter Sarah Miller will lead Penn Hills’ attack.

Ameira Smith and Taylor Slaughter will also be key cogs in the Indians’ machine.

“We are a very experienced team,” Mitlo said. “We are returning six seniors, five of which have a lot of experience between high school and club.”

Last season, Penn Hills went 4-10 in section and finished four games back of a playoff spot. The Indians’ lone wins in section play were a pair of victories over both McKeesport and Woodland Hills.

But this is a group with another year of experience that will know how to better utilize its skill sets.

One of the best examples of how this group of Penn Hills players can adapt is senior setter Ava Adamski. Adamski isn’t a traditional 5-1 formation setter but will be asked to be Penn Hills’ sole setter throughout the season.

“We have a lot of players who are multi-faceted,” Mitlo said. “We will be able to be more creative and move things around to help mask things. While Ava isn’t the tallest player, we will be able to maneuver our block to be in the right position to support her.”

Being a new section will provide a new challenge for the Indians.

Penn Hills will be in Section 1-3A with Gateway, Hampton, McKeesport, Plum, West Mifflin and Woodland Hills.

Mitlo believes the Indians will be capable of challenging for a playoff spot after they missed out last season. Penn Hills will need to lean on its seniors to make plays.

No matter the positions the Indians find themselves in, Mitlo believes they will be able to adjust and be in a place where they can thrive.

“We have the situational intelligence to pull that off,” Mitlo said. “This is a good group of girls. They are a cohesive group. There’s no drama and they play well together. If things go well, we should be able to challenge for a playoff spot.”

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