The Penn-Trafford girls volleyball team entered the 2014 WPIAL postseason as a playoff-ready group.
Fresh off a pair of losses to co-section 1-AAA champions Hempfield and Norwin in their last two games of the season, the Warriors (10-5, 8-4) were certainly prepared entering the playoffs as the No. 13 seed.
While Penn-Trafford dropped its opening round match 3-2 to Mt. Lebanon, it certainly was not for a lack of preparation late in the season.
“I kind of like the idea of playing them (co-section champions) at the end,” said Penn-Trafford coach Jim Schall. “It just didn’t work out…I like seeing them at the end. They were good teams, we were pretty good, just not good enough.”
“I’d rather go into the playoffs playing a good team rather than playing a team that’s not as good,” added senior outside hitter Maria Palarino.
A narrow five-set defeat against Mt. Lebanon, Penn-Trafford nearly rallied from a 2-1 deficit to advance to the quarterfinals, before losing a close fifth set.
“I felt like when we played them, we were pretty even with them,” said Schall of his team’s first round loss. “We gave a lot of points away at the end of the match…but I was very proud of the effort against Mt. Lebanon.”
“We obviously would have liked to go a lot farther in the playoffs, but the game against Mt. Lebanon was a fight to the last point, it was close the whole time so I’m not upset with how we played in that game,” added Palarino. “I think our team played very well, we just couldn’t finish it.”
The Warriors were led by a core of seniors this year in Palarino, outside hitter Angela Tarabrella, middle hitter Emma Mull and setter Kelsey Roche, a group that led Penn-Trafford throughout the season.
“The seniors definitely did a lot of the heavy lifting this year,” said Schall. “We’ll have a lot of kids to replace.”
The Warriors will look to a new group of players to lead in 2015, including sophomore middle hitter Taylor Wisniewski, to help guide them back to the postseason.
“I guess it’s to be determined,” said Schall of next year’s lineup. “A lot of it will depend on how well they do in the offseason and the kind of improvements that they make.”
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.