With solid core returning, Penn-Trafford volleyball has talent to contend

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Sunday, March 28, 2021 | 10:01 AM


Following last season’s cancellation, the Penn-Trafford volleyball team is anxious to get back on the court.

After all, the Warriors had a streak of 12 straight appearances in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs interrupted, including the 2016 championship.

Penn-Trafford begins the season ranked fifth in the WPIAL coaches poll.

“This year, it’s especially hard to tell,” said 19th-year coach Jim Schall said of his lofty preseason ranking. “Nobody played last year, but I have a little idea who’s going to be strong. I don’t put too much stock in the rankings.”

The Warriors are optimistic about the upcoming season with a core of returning players who were sophomores two years ago. Among them is senior setter Jarred Schoffstall, along with fellow seniors Alex Kania, a middle hitter, and outside hitters Lucas Stotler and Milan Cermak.

“Jarred played as a sophomore two years ago, and he’s a pretty athletic guy,” Schall said. “We’re hopeful he can do a good job. That makes a big difference. The other three guys have good size and are good athletes and should be strong hitters.”

Schall feels the toughest competition to extend the Warriors’ playoff streak will come from geographic rivals in Westmoreland County such as Latrobe, Hempfield and Norwin.

Said Schall: “Those three are pretty good competition for us. Pittsburgh Central Catholc is a new team in the section, and I haven’t seen them for a while.”

Penn Hills and Armstrong round out Section 3-3A. The top four teams will go to the WPIAL tournament and the top three finishers there qualify for the PIAA playoffs.

Penn-Trafford was scheduled to open the season with a tournament at North Allegheny the weekend of March 27 before rounding out the exhibition card at Shaler on March 29. The Warriors were slated to open section play against Central Catholic the next day.

“Our guys are very hopeful and anxious to start the season,” Schall said. “Last summer, we did what we could in July with some limited things, then everything shut down there in December. We started some workouts in January.”

Schall also indicated seven team members did play club and USA volleyball last summer.

Penn-Trafford’s turnout numbers continue to be impressive, considering that many schools have limited rosters or do not sponsor the sport at all. There are 15 varsity players and 17 junior varsity players out this season.

“I was really happy with the turnout,” the veteran coach said. “We have 12 new guys in the program and a couple of guys who are younger brothers of former players. In the offseason stuff we do, guys sometimes bring friends along who want to learn to play the game right.”

Assisting Schall this season will be John Carlisle and volunteer assistants Peter Leonetti and Angela Tarabella, sister of sophomore setter Daniel Tarabella.

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