Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Ambridge's Lee Smith, Peters Township's Sarah Bootman
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Claim to fame: Smith had a team-high 26 kills in leading the Bridgers to a 25-21, 25-16, 25-23 sweep of District 10 champion Saegertown on Saturday in the PIAA quarterfinals at Slippery Rock. Smith — who was voted the most valuable player in WPIAL Class AA — notched a match-high 21 kills in Ambridge's 3-0 sweep of Derry to secure the school's second straight WPIAL title.
“He's been our leader in kills in every game,” coach Glenn Freed said. “On Saturday he really took it to a whole nother level and picked it up tremendously.”
Rate your performance throughout the playoffs.
I've been doing a lot better than expected. I've had some back pain lately, but I think I'm playing pretty good.
Coach Freed said that you've really picked up your kill totals in the playoffs. What are you doing differently?
I've just been going after the ball. Our setter is just putting the ball up, and I've just been trying to put them down.
What do you hope to improve upon when you enter your senior year?
Probably just jump serving more. I need to get that down and the speed up. Also, I have to work on my passing.
Have any colleges reached out to you yet?
I've talked to Penn State, Ohio State and a few California schools.
Do you have any big plans for summer vacation?
No, not really. Volleyball basically takes up my whole summer. I'll be playing on the youth national team again this year. I'll go to camp and, hopefully, I get selected in the final 12.
What's the best volleyball advice you've ever received?
Stay humble and be a leader out there.
School: Peters Township
Claim to fame: Bootman scored three goals to help the Indians win the WPIAL Division I championship, 16-14, over Shady Side Academy at North Hills' Martorelli Stadium on May 23. Bootman had four goals to lead Peters Township to a 16-4 over State College in the PIAA quarterfinals on May 29. An American University recruit, Bootman has scored 227 goals in her career.
“She has been great for us controlling draws and working hard in the midfield,” coach Kristin Slemmer said. “She has the highest shot percentage on our team and really attacks well for us.”
Why did you select American University?
They have a great internal relations program. I really wanted to try to get them to notice me. Academics are really what drove me.
What type of career would you hope to pursue with an internal relations degree?
You can work in the State Department or the Department of Defense. You can also do a lot of research work. That's what interests me.
What moment stands out most in your career?
I'd say it was the win over State College. That's the (furthest) a girls lacrosse team (has gone) in Western Pennsylvania. It's an honor to be a part of this team.
What will you work on to prepare for college?
I'll definitely work on my fitness. It's a drastic change from high school. I just got my summer workout packet and it's pretty intimidating.
— Brian Graham
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