Section champ volleyball team preps for playoffs


Tom Rekowski

Senior Mia Schubert attempts a kill vs North Allegheny during the Titans 3-0 victory earlier this season.

A year after a 14-3 season that ended with a loss in the WPIAL Finals to rival North Allegheny, the Shaler Area Titans girls volleyball team heads into this year’s playoffs after a 15-1 regular season that included a victory against North Allegheny.

After last Thursday’s 3-0 win over North Hills, which helped secure a section co-championship with North Allegheny, the Titans enter this year’s WPIAL playoffs as the number two seed in the WPIAL Class 4A girls volleyball playoffs. The Titans receive a bye for the first round, and then will host the winner of seventh-seeded Bethel Park and tenth-seeded Latrobe in the quarterfinals on Oct. 28 at 6:00 p.m. ET.

“We are working on fine-tuning our play so that our skills and strengths as a team come through,” senior Tia Bozzo said. “We know that we need to continue to work hard every single day. We are focusing on one game at a time.”

The Titans’ 2021 season began with a 14-match win streak. Tournament wins at Butler and State College highlighted the 15-win season for the Titans, but the season was embodied in their biggest win, a 3-0 victory over the top-ranked North Allegheny, that allowed the Titans to move up to the top spot in the WPIAL rankings.

The Titans won all three sets over the Tigers by scores of 25-21, 25-15 and 27-25 in the third set that saw North Allegheny lead 24-19 at one point. This win ended the Tigers’ 27-match win streak and 57-match win streak in Class 4A Section 1 play.

We were happy with our success last year, but we are approaching playoffs like we have some unfinished business to take care of.

— Mr. Paul Stadelman

“I remember the feeling of accomplishing for something no other team has done in a long time,” senior Mia Schubert said. “We were finally able to achieve the thing we’ve known we could achieve all along. All of our hard work paid off to become ranked number one in the WPIAL. There was so much energy that night.”

The Tigers ended up returning the favor and handed the Titans their first and only loss of the season in a 3-2 match at North Allegheny, despite taking at 2-0 lead to start the match.

“I think our key takeaway is that we need to play like we deserve it,” senior Kayliegh Newland said. “We have worked tremendously hard this season, therefore we need to play tough to reward our efforts. We cannot act like it’s the end of the world. We have already accomplished so much this season and a single defeat cannot take that away from us. Against NA, some components to our game fell apart, therefore we didn’t come through in the end. If we sharpen certain areas and play to our potential, I think we will be just fine in the long run. Each team starts at a 0-0 record for playoffs, so that loss is now irrelevant to our goals.”

Five seniors, Bozzo, Schubert, Newland, Brooke Schweitzer and Sierra Ricci, have helped lead their team to the postseason with a first-round bye and were able to get a senior night win in early October against Seneca Valley 3-0. In addition to team success, player success has been able to make its way to the Titans.

Bozzo, a captain and four-year starter, reached a milestone achievement this regular season by recording her 2,000th assist in an early October win at Pine Richland. Bozzo has previously been recognized on the PVCA Class 4A All-State team in 2020, voted to the WPIAL All-Star team twice (first team in 2020 and second team in 2019), and named First Team All-Section, First Team All-WPIAL, part of the AAAA All-State Team and part of the Big 56 Conference first team last year.

“I was a couple of assists away starting the game at Pine Richland, but in the first set my teammates and I were able to play well allowing me to get my 2,000th assist,” Bozzo said. “It felt great having my team and family there with me. Everyone was excited. I wouldn’t have been able to reach it if I didn’t have an amazing team behind me each year helping me get there.”

Dating back to last year, the Titans have won 29 of their last 33 matches, and 15 of their last 16. Days before their first playoff match, head coach Mr. Paul Stadelman says that it is just business as usual.

“I think we prepare like we have prepared all season. We have approached each match like it is the most important match of the year and we prepare both physically and mentally, accordingly. Our focus and businesslike attitude toward our matches have served us well,” Stadelman said. “We will need to continue to work on our weaknesses and solidify our strengths with diligent effort for playoffs. We were happy with our success last year, but we are approaching playoffs like we have some unfinished business to take care of.”