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Norwin volleyball player Farabaugh chooses Penn State Behrend

| Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 9:30 a.m.
Doug Gulasy | Norwin Star
Mitch Farabaugh, who will play volleyball next season at Penn State Behrend, poses with his parents Paul and Ruth in the Norwin High School library on May 8, 2013. In the back row are Norwin athletic director Randy Rovesti (left) and volleyball coach Al Warden (right).

Mitch Farabaugh's college decision came down to two schools: Division I West Virginia and Division III Penn State Behrend.

In the end, the choice was easy and the reason was simple.

“West Virginia doesn't have a volleyball team,” said Farabaugh, who committed to play the sport at Penn State Behrend. “That's kind of the main (reason).”

As Norwin's setter last season, Farabaugh helped lead Norwin to a second-place finish in the WPIAL and a berth in the state tournament. The Knights took third place in the PIAA Tournament, advancing to the semifinals at Penn State for the first time since 2005.

“Going up there was a blast,” Farabaugh said. “It was a lot more fun than playing the teams around here, because up there they were really good.”

While he spent the 2012 season as Norwin's primary setter, Farabaugh's role changed this season. Norwin coach Al Warden elected to use a two-setter offense, with Farabaugh and junior Nick Nguyen splitting time at the position and Farabaugh spending the rest of his time as an outside hitter.

The change didn't affect Norwin's success as the Knights won their third straight championship and advanced to the WPIAL semifinals for the seventh time in the past 10 seasons.

The team advanced to the PIAA Tournament for the third straight season after defeating Penn-Trafford, 3-2, in the WPIAL consolation match last week at Baldwin High School.

“It'd be fun again to go up (to Penn State again), to play with a well-known group,” Farabaugh said earlier this month. “I believe we could do even better than last year.”

Warden said Farabaugh accepted his new role and thrived in it.

Farabaugh had 16 kills with no hitting errors in the victory over Penn-Trafford.

“The maturity that I've seen in Mitch from ninth grade when he walked in the gym the first day to being a leader I would have never expected,” Warden said.

“He's a really nice student-athlete who really grew up in front of my eyes, athletically and with regard to being a leader.”

Farabaugh likely will switch back to setter at Penn State Behrend, though he isn't sure how much playing time he'll get.

Penn State Behrend finished 15-15 in 2013, the second season in program history. That marked an improvement from a 10-18 inaugural campaign.

“It's kind of exciting,” Farabaugh said of the program's newness, “but it's kind of worrying, since it's only their beginning. I don't know how well they're going to do.”

Either way, Farabaugh, who will study electrical engineering at Penn State Behrend, said he's happy to continue his volleyball career at the next level.

“I love volleyball, so I can't stop,” he said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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