Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Despite Its Youth, Shaler a Contender on the Court

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Despite Its Youth, Shaler a Contender on the Court

Article excerpt

The Shaler Area High School girls volleyball team is young, but surprisingly experienced.

The Titans had only one senior on last year's squad.

"We lost our libero to graduation," Shaler coach Kris Ruppert said "Everybody else is back, and we're still young. The difference is that this year's squad is experienced."

Ruppert has four seniors on this year's squad, and only two are part of the starting rotation.

"I've been using nine players in our starting rotation and only two are seniors," Ruppert said. "It's nice to know that most of them are back next year, too."

Ruppert, now in her 10th season, has led Shaler to eight consecutive WPIAL playoff appearances.

"We've qualified for the WPIAL playoffs every year, except for my first year," Ruppert said. "Our goal every year is to qualify and go as far as we can."

Shaler has made six WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal appearances during Ruppert's tenure, but none of those squads was able to advance further.

"We have an experienced squad that plays well together," Ruppert said. "And many of my girls are playing club ball."

Shaler opened the season ranked No. 3 in the WPIAL Class AAA preseason rankings.

"North Allegheny and Pine-Richland are clearly the top two teams in the WPIAL," Ruppert said. "It's a free-for-all from No. 3 on down. Once you get past North Allegheny and Pine-Richland, you have several teams that are capable of beating each other on any given night."

Ruppert's starting lineup includes two All-WPIAL selections, 5- 10 junior setter/right-side hitter Annie Bozzo and 5-5 junior outside hitter Liz Kline. Bozzo was voted to the WPIAL second team last season and third team as a freshman. Kline was a third-team pick last year.

"Annie is a tremendous athlete who is physically gifted," Ruppert said. "She has schools like Temple and Lehigh interested in her. Her only drawback is that she's transitioning over to setter later than usual. She's only been setting for one year.

"Liz is a tremendously skilled all-around athlete. …

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