Posted/Updated: 6/17/2024 10:26:34 AM

Revenge of the Titans: Parkland boys volleyball swept by Shaler in PIAA final

By Kyle Craig | For

Parkland High School's boys volleyball team experienced the revenge of the Titans on Saturday afternoon.

A year after sweeping Shaler for a state title, the Trojans dropped a three-set result (25-21, 25-15, 25-20) to the WPIAL champion in the PIAA Class 3A final at Penn State University's Rec Hall.

It's the first state championship in program history for Shaler (19-1).

"They had a year of experience, a year of the feeling that we have now to sit in them. I know that motivated them immensely," Parkland coach Scott Trumbauer said. "They were a much better team (than last year) tonight. Their key players played on a different level."

A kill by senior Luke Smith gave the Trojans a 13-10 lead in the first set. Smith scored again to push his team in front 21-20. That was the final point Parkland registered in the frame, however, and marked a moment where the entire match changed for the District 11 champion.

Shaler senior Dante Palombo tied the opening set with a kill, and classmate Zac Wurzer followed with an ace. A hitting error and an attacking violation sandwiched around a kill by Wurzer to register the final three points for the Titans.

Shaler stormed to a 6-0 advantage in Set 2 as five different players tallied a point: Logan Peterson, Palombo, Wurzer, Peyton Planz and Cam Miller. Two early Parkland timeouts couldn't stop the Titans' momentum.

"Credit to Shaler. They ... proved why they were No. 1 all year and had the success they had," Trumbauer said. "I can't take anything away from them. They put the pressure on us from the first serve to the last point."

Parkland junior Josh Nation tallied three kills in a four-point span to take a 6-5 advantage in the third set. That was the Trojans' final lead of the afternoon as a string of miscues put Shaler ahead 11-6.

Kills from Will Stiles and Owen Rodgers, both seniors, trimmed the Titans' advantage to 19-18. Smith scored to pull Parkland within one again at 20-19. Shaler responded with a three-point spurt – a kill by senior Logan Schimmel, an ace from senior Zach Rosenwald and a kill by Planz – to reestablish breathing room. A Parkland hit skipped off the top of the net and out of bounds for the championship point at 25-20.

"Shaler did not allow us to get any kinds of runs. I think maybe a two- or three-point stretch was the most we could put together all night," Trumbauer said. "... We were kind of putting ourselves in some tough situations serve-receive wise and defense wise. But, again, ... their serving was aggressive, their attacks were aggressive, and we just did not have the ability to get [up to] pace with them. I feel like they played a step and a half ahead of us."

Parkland's blocking, which served it well in 2023′s state final and was excellent in this spring's semifinals, couldn't contain the Titans.

"Last year, we kind of shut them down with our blocking," Rodgers said. "This year, they looked a lot more solid and were able to get in system more often."

"A lot of things we did the whole year and really had a lot of success, weren't working today," Stiles added. "They put a lot of pressure on us."

Palombo, a Juniata College recruit, was an explosive offensive weapon for Shaler.

"Dante Palumbo was absolutely amazing ... He showed me a different level today with his angles and attentiveness to certain details," Trumbauer said. "Their blocking was great."

Saturday marked a disappointing end to a fantastic run for the Trojans (21-4), who won Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and District 11 crowns. A return trip to Penn State didn't seem likely when Parkland, which was unbeaten in 2023, dropped an early conference result to Whitehall.

"Why wouldn't we be able to do it again?" Smith said about reaching the PIAA final. "Early in the season when we lost to Whitehall, everyone was kind of asking if it was going to happen again. And to be honest, we were all like, ‘If we keep playing like this, it's not going to happen.' But, everyone stepped up, played their role and played it very well."

"The season didn't look quite as promising," Rodgers said about the regular-season setbacks. "But then once we got in rhythm, we looked so good. We were so confident going into today. It just didn't fall our way and that happens sometimes."

Parkland is now 2-1 all-time in PIAA boys volleyball finals.

"I'm forever grateful to Coach Scott, all the coaches, everyone for believing in me ... Even making it this far is, in my opinion, a success," Stiles said. "Obviously, this hurts so much, but I couldn't be prouder of my team."

Trumbauer was happiest with the way his senior-laden roster carried itself as the only local program that reached a state final this spring.

"To represent ourselves two years in a row in Rec Hall at Penn State, no other team in the Lehigh Valley was playing for state championships and all eyes were on us in a sense, and we were getting a lot of attention," Trumbauer said. "It never made these guys change. They just wanted to keep pushing forward and keep making us proud."

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Kyle Craig may be reached at

Questions/Comments? Contact Scott Trumbauer