North/South/East/West Xtra: Area club volleyball teams displaying talent

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The Pittsburgh Volleyball Club made its fourth consecutive appearance at the United States Boys' Junior National Volleyball Championships, which took place June 27 through July 4 at the Reno (Nev.) Convention Center, and turned in its best overall performance to date.

"We entered six teams, in four age brackets, and four of the teams finished among the top 13 in their bracket," said North Allegheny coach Dan Schall, who serves as the club's volleyball director. "We're very proud of that."

The Junior National Championships feature the top teams in the country in seven age groups: 18-and-under, 17-and-under, 16-and-under, 15-and-under, 14-and-under, 13-and-under and 12-and-under.

"All seven age brackets have a Club Division in which any team may participate," Schall said. "In the 18, 17, 16, 15 and 14 age brackets, they also have an Open Division. The Open Division is much tougher and teams must qualify to compete in that division. The best teams in the country are in the Open brackets.

"We had one team qualify for the Open Division. Our 18-and-under team was one of 36 teams in the Open bracket. They tied for 25th overall, which was a little disappointing, but the competition in the Open Division is very strong."

The PVC had two teams entered in the 17-and-under division, two teams in the 16-and-under division, and one team in the 14-and-under division.

The 14-and-under club team actually turned in the best performance of any East Coast team in any bracket.

"Our 14-and-under team placed second in a 27-team field," said Schall, who also served as head coach of that team. "It was a big surprise, because seven of our nine players on that team had no previous experience in a tournament of this magnitude."

The team consisted of players who were either seventh or eighth graders during the 2012-13 school year. They lost to a team from Hawaii in the title match.

"They are players we will see at the varsity level in a year or so," Schall said. "They did a great job to place that high."

The 14-and-under team consisted of four players from North Allegheny, and one each from Seneca Valley, Pine-Richland, Fox Chapel, Penn-Trafford and Butler. Lance Todoroski of Pine-Richland and M.J. Barton of North Allegheny shared the setting duties for the silver medalists.

The PVC had two teams entered in the 16-and-under Club Division, which included 68 teams. The PVC Yellow squad tied for ninth overall, the best finish of any East Coast team in the 16-and-under Club Division. The PVC Black squad tied for 13th overall.

"We played 10 matches in four days and won six," said Penn-Trafford coach Jim Schall, who served as head coach of the PVC 16-and-under Yellow squad. "This is my third year with the PVC and it's clearly the best team I've coached. I'm very pleased with our performance, especially when you consider how strong the competition is."

A total of 59 players from 15 area school districts in the WPIAL and City League were represented on PVC's six teams. The other schools represented were: Baldwin, Bethel Park, Derry Area, Greater Latrobe, Montour, North Hills, Obama Academy, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Plum.

"It's a lot of fun for both the players and coaches," Jim Schall said. "Hopefully, the club's overall performance will convince more and more kids to get involved."

The PVC's other two teams were in the 17-and-under Club Division. The PVC Black squad tied for 13th overall out of 56 teams, while the PVC Yellow squad tied for 27th.

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