Sunday, October 25, 2020 | 11:01 am
Christopher Horner | Tribune review
Megan Bologna of Plum scores during a game on October 20 at Kiski Area High School against Brook Endress of Kiski Area. Plum won 3-1.
The Plum girls' volleyball team returned to the top last week when they won the championship of the first section of the program since 2011.
The Mustangs 3-1 victory in Kiski Area on October 20th rounded off their crown in the 16th section.
"That was really exciting for the girls, especially the (eight) seniors," said plum trainer Kelsey Bonk. “When my twin (Carly) and I started here, we decided to take the middle school job too. These seniors were now our first group in eighth grade.
“From there we knew there were some great talent in this group. Then you combine them with some of the underclassmen and you have a great combination of players who have worked hard to make it happen. "
The section's title closes the loop for assistant trainer Rachel Satira, who was a newcomer to the roster in 2011.
"When we brought her in, that was one of the first things we talked about," said Kelsey Bonk. “She wanted to do everything possible to give Plum another title. That was wonderful."
The win over Kiski Area gave Plum a 13-0 lead in sections 1-3A, one game ahead of Franklin Regional (12-1), who faced each other in the section final last Thursday.
Bonk said the games against Kiski Area, Franklin Regional and others helped Plum prepare for games in the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs due to begin this week. The pairings for the four WPIAL tournaments should be released on Monday.
"The resignation of (Class 4A) has given us a little more confidence this season and we knew we had a strong and experienced team to come together," said Bonk. "But we knew it wasn't going to be easy and we had some challenging games."
Plum qualified for the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2017 when it finished third in Section 4-4A behind Armstrong and Oakland Catholic with a 7-5 record. The Mustangs entered the playoffs as 13th seed and fell 3-1 in the first round against Baldwin . 4.
"I think the team has really made a lot more contacts this year than in previous years because there are so many seniors," said Julia Vargo, a senior defensive specialist. "From the first year we said that the last year would be our year and it came true, which is great." We want to continue that with wins in the playoffs. "
Bonk said the ability to adapt to different styles of play, sometimes over the course of a game, has contributed to the team's success in the regular season.
"Last year we had five or six five-set games and we only won one," said Bonk. “At some point you have to be able to make these tiny adjustments to win these tight games. This year we've made these changes better in every game and set. "
The season started with limits that limited the number of people who could be in the gym at any given time to 25. This led to some strategic changes in game operations. Bonk said despite these challenges, before restrictions were finally relaxed, things were going well.
"The girls were great," said Bonk. “There was never a time when I had to play the harp to make sure they were following protocols. We talked about it at the beginning and it was never a problem. They just wanted to play volleyball and they wanted to do everything possible to make it happen. I give you all the credit for making these adjustments. "
Michael Love is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.