South Xtra: Seton-LaSalle job excites new coach

VOLLEYBALL

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Shenango's loss is Seton-LaSalle's gain.

Kevin Hummert has taken over as girls volleyball coach at Seton-LaSalle after spending the past five years as Shenango's coach.

"The Shenango school board decided to go in a different direction, which was a big surprise to me," said Hummert, who led Shenango to four consecutive WPIAL playoff berths. "But I didn't want to quit coaching."

Hummert heard about an opening at Seton-LaSalle and applied even though he lives an hour's drive away from the high school.

"I'm still teaching at Shenango, but the job at Seton-LaSalle was too good to pass up," Hummert said. "I'm still very close with the athletic director at Shenango, and he passed my name on to the AD at Seton-LaSalle. They gave me an interview and the rest is history."

It's only been a few weeks, but Hummert is finding the drive to Seton-LaSalle to be less of a hassle than people might think.

"The route I take is almost all highway," Hummert said. "It takes me exactly one hour to make the drive."

Hummert is finding his one-hour trip to be very worthwhile.

"The girls have made it easy," Hummert said. "I have a great group of girls who are willing to put in the hard work to be a winner. It's the most fun I've had in my years of coaching. I couldn't ask for a better group of girls."

Hummert takes over for Mark Felbinger, who has served as boys and girls coach at Seton-LaSalle for several years.

"It just got to be too tough to handle both teams," Felbinger said. "So I decided to step down as girls coach. I will stay on as the boys coach."

Hummert was a bit disappointed that Seton-LaSalle moved up to Class AA in the WPIAL's realignment of its sections.

"I really think we would have had a good shot at winning a WPIAL title in Class A this year with the talent we have coming back," Hummert said. "Now we're one of the smallest [schools] in Class AA."

Despite the change in classification, Seton-LaSalle will be one of the top teams in the newly formed Section 6-AA. The Rebels are joined in the new section by East Allegheny, Keystone Oaks, South Fayette, Steel Valley and South Park.

"I'm not familiar with the teams in our section, but I think we have the talent required to compete for the section title," Hummert said. "Our main focus is on ball control. If we can pass, we can compete with anybody."

Hummert has found that out in the two scrimmages the Rebels have had.

"We played Bethel Park, a good Class AAA program, and beat them, 25-21," Hummert said. "That shows me we can compete with the bigger teams."

Hummert has built his squad around three returning all-stars. Angela Heintz, a 5-foot-11 senior middle hitter, was voted third-team All-WPIAL last year. Heintz, who has made a verbal commitment to Duquesne University to play basketball, was also voted first-team All-Section 2-A, along with teammates Abby Koval and Tony Torchia. Koval is a 5-7 senior setter, while Torchia is a 5-9 senior outside hitter.

"Angela has already accepted a basketball scholarship to Duquesne University," Hummert said. "Angela is one of the best all-around players I've ever coached. She is also near the top of her class in grade point average. She's the entire package."

Koval has been the Rebels setter the past two years. Torchia has a twin sister, Tia, who is also a 5-9 junior outside hitter.

"It took me a while to figure out which was Tony and which was Tia," Hummert said. "Fortunately, Tia had her hair cut shorter. That's the only way I can tell them apart."

Hummert has 19 girls out for the team and has designated 10 for the varsity team and the remaining nine for junior varsity. The other six members of the varsity are 5-7 senior opposite Alex Schilken, 5-1 junior middle hitter Brianne Culligan, 5-3 junior back-row specialist Juliana Ross, 5-4 junior back-row specialist Lindsey Farley, 5-4 junior defensive specialist Shelby Williams and 5-9 sophomore middle hitter Laura Nath.

Another player expected to see time on offense is Morgan Henderson, a 6-1 sophomore middle hitter who transferred from Texas.

"Morgan played at a Class 5-A high school in Texas and they only allow athletes to compete in one sport when they get to high school," Hummert said. "She played basketball last year as a freshman, and played some volleyball in junior high. She is a raw talent, but it's not every day that a 6-1 girl steps into the picture."

Seton-LaSalle opens its season Saturday at the five-team Neighborhood Academy Tournament. The Rebels first section match is Sept. 11 at South Fayette.

Hummert graduated from Norwin High School, but the Knights didn't have a boys program at the time.

"They started the boys program the year after I graduated," Hummert said. "But I enjoyed volleyball, so I helped coach Sheron Watson with the girls team."

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