Butler volleyball tops SV, caps best season ever
Butler's Dan Kline (29) celebrates a point against Seneca Valley during the Golden Tornado's 3-1 victory Thursday night.
JUSTIN GUIDO/ BUTLER EAGLE
BUTLER TWP — Butler's boys volleyball team capped the best section record in its 25-year history Thursday night by defeating an old nemesis.
The Golden Tornado overcame a loss in the first set to dispatch the Raiders 3-1 by scores of 25-27, 25-16, 25-21 and 25-15.
Butler (15-3, 10-2) had already defeated the Raiders earlier this season.
“We may have swept them in the first few years of our program,” said Tornado coach Lew Liparulo, “but even if we did, it's been a long time. They have been dominant against us in recent years.”
Despite falling to the Raiders in Thursday's opening set, Liparulo was very confident after his team's late effort.
“We were down (19-12) at one point and came back to only lose by two,” he said. “There's no quit in this team. They keep the ball off the floor.”
Butler dominated early on in the second set, opening up a 10-2 lead with senior Tyler Rankin behind the service line for seven straight points. A pair of kills from Andrew Chwalik highlighted the run. The Raiders never got closer than five points the rest of the way.
“In the first set, we handled the ball well, played well on defense,” said SV coach Karen Martini. “After that, we just had too many errors. Way too many.”
Senior Nash Bryan starred for the Tornado in the final two sets, totaling nine kills, including one that ended the third set. His block later on ended the match as the Raiders never were able to regain their form at the start of the night.
Bryan ended the night with a team-high 16 kills and Rankin dished out 32 assists. Cody Schnur added four blocks.
SV senior rightside hitter Kyle Martini led the Raiders with 16 kills.
Both teams will compete in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs, which begin next week.
The Raiders (8-6, 7-5) enter postseason play with question marks.
“We're a young team,” said Martini. “We have some players out there who are getting their first varsity playing experience and we have some players playing out of position. It's just hard to build confidence right now.”
Following its historic regular season, Butler has high hopes for the playoffs.
“We're hungry to make a run. They better be ready,” said Rankin of the district's other playoff teams. “We're coming for them.”
Liparulo is the only head coach Butler boys volleyball has ever known. He appreciates the effort of this year's team. Two of the squad's three losses this season came against North Allegheny, the 4th-ranked team in the state.
“We have kids who have made a commitment to the sport, playing on club teams in the offseason,” he said. “A few years ago, we lost a lot of seniors. The next season, I opted to play a lot of sophomores, believing it would benefit us down the road and here we are.
“A lot of credit goes to my assistant, Jim Aggas. We work well together. He's also the coach of the junior varsity team and does a great job of getting those kids ready for varsity. A program is only as good as what's beneath it.”