When Chris Dinkel became Hempfield Area's boys volleyball coach in the spring, he talked of how supportive his wife, Kristen, had been of his desire to coach, despite having three kids of their own.
Now he's returning the favor.
Kristen Dinkel has taken over as coach of Greensburg Salem's girls volleyball team.
"I told Chris that I was a single mom during the boys season," Dinkel said. "Now he's going to be a single dad while I coach the girls team."
Kristen (Damico) Dinkel is a 1995 graduate of Greensburg Salem.
"I was a two-year starter for Lynn Jobe as a defensive specialist [at Greensburg Salem]," Dinkel said. "I also played at Juniata College. I lettered three years and started my senior year. Juniata is where I met my husband. He played for the men's team."
Kristen Dinkel is a first-grade teacher at Greensburg Salem's Nicely Elementary. Chris Dinkel teaches in the Hempfield Area School District.
"I actually coached at Greensburg Salem from 2003 until 2005," Mrs. Dinkel said. "I was Brian Switala's assistant. I stepped down in 2006 to become a mom."
Kristen had doubts about applying for the job, but changed her mind when Rachel Roddy, an assistant on last year's squad, decided to stay on.
"I actually coached Rachel," Mrs. Dinkel said. "She was on all three teams when I coached. She graduated in 2007. I consider us to be co-coaches. Every decision we make is between us. I wouldn't be able to do this without her help."
Dinkel takes over a squad that struggled last season. The Golden Lions tied for fourth place in Class AA Section 3 with a 3-7 record.
Greensburg Salem's top returnee is Kylie McSwaney, a 5-foot-8 senior middle hitter who was voted second-team All-Section 3 last year.
"Kylie is one of our stars," Dinkel said. "She is one of our captains and our go-to hitter. We look to her for her guidance and help with the younger players."
McSwaney was Greensburg Salem's most dominant player at Saturday's Mt. Lebanon tournament, which was held at Bethel Park High School due to construction at Mt. Lebanon.
"Kylie had 14 kills and our next highest total was four kills," Dinkel said.
McSwaney is one of six seniors in the starting rotation. The others are 5-9 middle hitter Jenna Daniels, 5-1 defensive specialist Sierra Morosky, 5-1 libero Sabrina Morosky, 5-7 opposite Maggie Hantz and 5-6 outside hitter Kayla Zimmerman.
"Sierra and Sabrina are twins," Dinkel said. "Maggie is also a twin. Her sister Madison [a 5-5 defensive specialist] will play in the back row for us."
Liz Daniels, a 5-7 junior, has taken over at setter.
"Liz was our JV setter last year," Dinkel said. "She's adjusting well to the move up to varsity. But she has a problem with over-thinking. She just has to go with her gut."
Others in the starting rotation are 5-4 junior defensive specialist Taylor Rutkowski, 5-6 junior outside hitter Sarah Griffin, 5-8 sophomore opposite Anna Kate Tayha and 5-8 sophomore outside hitter Julia Howard.
"I actually taught Taylor in kindergarten, so I've known her for a long time," Dinkel said.
Dinkel would like to see the program get back to the WPIAL playoffs this year.
"Our goal is to be better than last year," she said. "We have to focus on passing and blocking. If we can do both successfully, we have a chance to be one of the better teams in the section and qualify for the playoffs."