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Pine-Richland volleyball moves forward with veteran group | TribLIVE.com
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Pine-Richland volleyball moves forward with veteran group

Tribune-Review
| Sunday, April 3, 2016 10:51 p.m
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Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland's Lance Todoroski prepares to set the ball for a teammate during a tournament on Saturday, April 2, 2016, at Derry Area High School.
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Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland's Chris Gebhardt (9) watches his shot go past the block attempt of Montour's Jacob Kownacki (15) during a tournament on Saturday, April 2, 2016, at Derry Area High School.
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Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland's Luke Olson (25) taps the ball over the reach of Latrobe's defenders during a tournament on Saturday, April 2, 2016, at Derry Area High School.
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Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland's Sam Vidic (22) and Chris Gebhardt (9) attempt to block the shot of Latrobe's DJ Kiesel (10) during a tournament on Saturday, April 2, 2016, at Derry Area High School.
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Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland's Lance Todoroski (11) attempts to block the shot of Latrobe's DJ Kiesel (10) during a tournament on Saturday, April 2, 2016, at Derry Area High School.
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Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland's Sam Vidic prepares to pass the ball during a tournament on Saturday, April 2, 2016, at Derry Area High School.
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Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland's Lance Todoroski makes a play at the net during a tournament on Saturday, April 2, 2016, at Derry Area High School.

Last season, the Pine-Richland boys volleyball team had to acclimate itself to a new coaching staff and a new offensive system. All in all, the learning curve may have had an effect on the Rams, as they went 3-6 in Section 2-AAA.

But this year, that learning curve should be all but over, as the team coached by Peter Mathis and assistant Shawn Grady returns five of its six starters and clearly possesses a stronger grip on the coaches’ unique offensive system.

“No one else in the WPIAL runs it. It takes a very talented setter and it takes very athletic hitters,” Grady said. “We feel that it can create matchup problems. We don’t have the height of some of the teams in our section, but we feel we have the athletes to compete.”

“In our eyes, the offense is something that can equalize things.”

According to Grady, the offense Pine-Richland (1-1, 1-1) runs allows its hitters to call the location of their swings prior to the ball being set for them at the net.

As a result, the team’s hitters, 6-foot senior James Kozej, 6-2 senior Mike Pohlad, 6-4 junior Owen Tyndall, and 6-4 freshman Luke Olson, will be able to adapt and improvise more around the net and with their finishes.

“It’s something different, it’s something new and it allows them to feel out the game a little bit more,” Grady said.

Much of the team’s success with its new offense will continue to depend on the play of its setter, junior Lance Todorowski.

Another first-year starter is Gabe Schoone. The sophomore has taken hold of the starting libero position and has flashed playmaking ability early on, according to his coaches.

With the mix of newcomers and veterans, the Rams swept North Hills to open the season. Shortly after the win, the team suffered a 3-set loss to Seneca Valley.

Pine-Richland was scheduled to play a Section 2-AAA home match at against Fox Chapel at 7 p.m. Tuesday, after this edition’s deadline.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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