Experience key for volleyball team
The Parkland boys volleyball team has advanced to the state tournament in five of the past six seasons and with an experienced group in 2013, the Trojans will be looking to make their second straight trip to Penn State.
But despite the success, it's been five years since the boys' team has added a District 11 title to the trophy case. That's the longest stretch since the five-year gap between head coach Scott Trumbauer's first two district titles in 2003 and 2008.
This year's group could be the one to end the mini-drought.
Trumbauer returns five players with significant experience from a team that went 19-7 last season and finished as the runners-up in the Lehigh Valley Conference and District 11. Until the PIAA tournament in State College, the only team to beat the Trojans was Emmaus, which was responsible for four of the losses last season.
The team has some replacing to do at the top as Josh Suppan, a two time LVC first-teamer, and Reno Kriz, who made the PIAA All-Tournament team along with the LVC's first team, have both moved on after graduation.
The good news is that Parkland has a pair of senior setters in Michael Lewis and Alec Dougherty who have both seen time on the court for the past two seasons. They're joined by returning senior classmates Ian Sundahl (outside hitter) and Aaron Silverstein (libero) and junior middle hitter Derrick Rice.
"We return a lot of experience which we will be leaning on as the season goes on," Trumbauer said. "We also welcome a number of kids to the varsity team whom had helped guide the JV teams to very good seasons.
"As with any new season, it takes time to get comfortable with new faces on the court. Losing two first team All-LVIAC players isn't easy to replace, but we have a number of kids stepping up in those roles well so far."
Those players include three juniors who are expected to make an immediate impact in the rotation. Tyler Phifer will join Rice as a middle hitter, while Chris Schweikert seeing action as a libero. Gannon Venable will get on the floor as an outside hitter.
The roster also features seniors Jason Fine (middle), Daniel Ventura (libero), Chris Hamil (opposite), Eli Flagg (outside) and junior Mitchell Fox (opposite).
The Trojans will have to do most of their gelling on the road as six of their first seven games are on the road. That doesn't include a trip to the Bobcat Invitational at Northeastern High School in Manchester on April 6. At the tournament, the Trojans will see state runner-up Pennridge along with Warwick, Dallastown and host Northeastern, a Class 2A powerhouse.
The schedule also features big home matches on Thursdays in April as Parkland battles Emmaus on April 18 and a week later hosts Class 2A state champ Bethlehem Catholic.
"I expect us to be very competitive this year. The kids are anxious to continue the tradition the past classes have established," Trumbauer said. "They know it's been a few years since we added a year to the district championship banner so they have their sights set on putting their year on that banner.
"My goal is to get us in a position to peak at the right time and ending the season playing the best volleyball of the year."