Girls Volleyball success continues under new coach

Andrew Deal

The Shaler Area Girls Volleyball team had another very successful season. The team reached the WPIAL quarterfinals and finished 2nd in the section. 

The team faced some challenges throughout the season. For one, they entered this year under a new coaching staff. Ms. Annie Bozzo took over the team as the head coach after coaching two years at Hampton. 

Bozzo, a Shaler alumna, and 2021 Shaler Area Athletic Hall of Fame inductee for her career as a volleyball player, coached the team to an 10-7 record. Bozzo’s accolades as a player are right up there with the best, and a big reason for becoming a coach. A team captain for all four years, two time All-WPIAL athlete, and a two time All-State Athlete were just some of the accomplishments she received throughout her career. 

“After playing for Shaler Area, it was a dream come true to come back home and be the head coach,” Bozzo said. 

Although there was no vertical movement in classifications for the team, they did move to another section in Class AAAA. 

“We had to scout new teams, we traveled farther for games, and we had to play some tough out of section matches as well,” Bozzo said. 

One of these tough out of section matchups included rival and neighbor North Allegheny. Over the past two seasons, the teams have met a total of seven times. However, this season they only met once, in the regular season. 

The team went through other hardships throughout the course of their season. They lost a key player, junior Hilary Quinn, early in the season due to an ACL injury, which forced many players to embrace new roles and an even bigger teamwork mentality. 

After playing for Shaler Area, it was a dream come true to come back home and be the head coach.

— Annie Bozzo

“Coming down from such a successful previous year can be challenging in itself. Adding on a new coaching staff makes for transition challenges as well. The girls handled both with grace and worked hard to put themselves in the same position this year,” Bozzo said. 

The Titans also had many memorable games and moments. They were able to continue to make their presence known with another great run in the State College tournament. The team finished 2nd in their pool play, which entered them into the “power pools” bracket. Entering the day, they were using a brand new lineup, but they won their way into the quarterfinals where they just fell short to section opponent Hempfield.  

“They accomplished our goal of getting better each set. We also had a great time bonding as a team. We had ice cream at The Creamery Friday night followed by bowling as a team where the girls got creative and had fun with it,” Bozzo said. 

However, September 20, earlier in the season a five-set thriller against the eventual section winner Penn Trafford meant the most to the team.

“Going into the game, we knew they were going to be our biggest competition in the section. The game was very competitive and it was super rewarding to come out on top after a long hard-fought battle,” senior Candace Kozej said. 

Shaler Area went on to the WPIAL playoffs and defeated Upper St. Clair in a fun, competitive first-round home matchup. However, the team would go on to lose in the next round to Pine Richland. 

“My players work hard and make every practice and game fun. I look forward to keeping the program at the high level Coach Stadelman left it at,” Bozzo said.