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Golden Tornado volleyball pulls it together in win over Mars

Turning the Tide

BUTLER TWP — Butler faced adversity for the first time this go-round and passed the test with flying colors.

During one stretch during the second and third sets Tuesday night, visiting Mars held control for 69 of 79 serves. The Golden Tornado wound up besting the Planets in four sets of boys volleyball action — the scores being 25-23, 19-25, 25-23, and 25-15.

“It just shows that we can work through troubles,” said junior outside hitter Coleton Welter of Butler’s response. “I know we started out a little rough, but then we started moving on and we finished those last two sets and just kind of showed what we can do.”

Welter starred, totaling 19 kills on the night. Senior Max Gianneski added nine and Andrew Archer seven.

Following a back-and-forth initial set that was tied at 23 before Butler (1-0) pulled it out, Mars took charge in the second when junior Ryan Ceh strung together four straight service points, including two aces. The hosts pulled within two points on seven occasions, but were unable to overcome the deficit.

The Golden Tornado fell behind early in the third set, too, but worked their way back in it in the later stages.

“We adjusted our defense and we played for the next point,” Butler coach Lew Liparulo said. “We quit worrying about the big picture and focused on setting. Our setting was good and our hitters rose to the occasion. It was just simple volleyball.”

After a five-set loss to Ambridge Monday night, it was another positive learning experience for the Planets (0-2).

“We’re kind of young, so I think that it’s kind of new to some of our guys, of how to compete in tight situations like that,” Mars coach Mike Nypaver said. “I thought a lot of this game was pretty tight and they (Butler) had some good athletes that we just couldn’t match up with very well outside.

“No. 16 (Welter) was a heck of a player and was hitting a great angle that we just couldn’t defend there. I think that that put us kind of behind a bit mentally.”

Liparulo’s side might look much different than last spring, but Welter, Archer, Gianneski, and a handful of their teammates all participate in the travel circuit.

“All around, we’ve played club,” Welter said. “I think we work really well together. Practices are a lot of fun and they’re very competitive.”

“They hung in and they did a very good job tonight,” Liparulo said. “Everybody contributed ... Many balls were right in the setter’s hands tonight, and that facilitates our offense.”

Seniors Andrew Archer and Nate Grossman gave Butler options in the middle, and sophomore Alec Teff on the outside.

“We’re striving to be (in) transition and move from one point to the other,” Liparulo said. “They struggled there for a while and then they started getting it.”

The Golden Tornado never trailed in the final set, as Welter, Gianneski, and Teff combined for a dozen kills. Welter closed the match out with consecutive service aces.

Close, competitive clashes are something Nypaver expects from section play. For a relatively inexperienced Mars group, setter Kyler Robinson and outside hitter Derek Piatek figure to be key pieces. Tyler Raabe is a returning starter for the team, and Liam Quinn is settling into the right side after setting a year ago. Libero Colton Riska is another returning starter.

The Golden Tornado are getting their feet wet quickly, as they’re scheduled to hit the court three more times in the next four days. They’ll hit the road to take on Greater Latrobe Wednesday and North Allegheny Thursday.

The Planets will play Plum at home on Thursday.

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