Shaler volleyball team earns 1st-round victory
Peaking at the right time has the Shaler girls volleyball team marching into the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals.
Scoring a 3-1 (25-17, 25-16, 16-25, 25-22) upset victory against Hempfield on the road Wednesday night gave the Titans their first playoff victory since 2013. There has been little which has cooled Shaler, which was scheduled to take on No. 2 seed Baldwin in the next round.
Paul Stadelman, in his first season leading the program, feels like the onus will be on their opponents as they move forward in the playoffs.
“The girls get to have fun and enjoy it,” Stadelman said. “The pressure is on the other teams. We are the underdog. Their job to step up and play well against us.”
The 10th-seeded Titans have now won eight straight matches. Sierra Ricci led Shaler (11-6) with 16 digs against the Spartans.
Mia Schubert had a team-high 14 kills, while Oyinda Agbale contributed 11.
“The girls performed great,” Stadelman said. “The playoffs are a different animal. We approached it like it was another match and game. We executed our game plan and controlled our half of the net.”
Shaler’s emphasis on defense has been a key contributor to the winning streak.
“If we have the right attitude, the defense can finish a game for us or bring us back if we are trailing,” Stadelman said. “If we are focused in that area, it can erase issues with serve-receive or passing.”
Keeping issues to a minimum will be a must for the Titans.
Shaler, which has advanced after losing in the first round the past two seasons, doesn’t want to get complacent. That’s why Stadelman wants the Titans to approach everything the same way.
“Each point is played the same way at the start of the season, end of the season or at the playoffs,” Stadelman said. “Every point is the same if the score is 0-0 or 24-23. Every pass, every set, every block is important. Practice and play that way, things shouldn’t get different at any point.”
Shaler hockey breaks in new rules
Before this PIHL season, the league determined regular season games would no longer end in ties. Much like the NHL, high school hockey programs would go to a shootout after a 3-on-3 overtime period.
Shaler (1-0-3) has already spent plenty of time refining its shootout skills.
The Titans, including a 2-1 loss to Moon last Tuesday at the Alpha Ice Complex, has advanced through overtime to the shootout in three of its first four games. Shaler has also suffered shootout losses to Mars (3-2) and Hampton (4-3).
Shaler’s lone win was a 6-3 victory over Quaker Valley on Oct. 9.