Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: North Allegheny's Tommy Keisling, Ambridge's Hannah Smith
School: North Allegheny
Claim to fame: A Juniata recruit and two-time WPIAL MVP, Keisling broke the school record for kills in a career (1,291) and in a single season (486) en route to North Allegheny winning its first state title since 1999. Keisling was dominant in the PIAA playoffs, leading the Tigers with 21 kills in the finals against Pennsbury on Saturday and 15 in their semifinal win over Central Dauphin on June 5.
How are you feeling having finally won a state title?
I'm still in a really good mood even though it happened a few days ago. It means a lot to go out in my last match … that's really the only way I'd ever want to go out.
Why did you pick Juniata?
I like that it is a liberal arts school and it has small classes so you can get good attention from your teachers. I liked the coach and his assistants and also the rest of the team when I went up on a visit.
What are you going to work on this summer to get ready for the next level?
I'm just going to work hard, to hopefully have a role as a freshman. Not only will I practice volleyball, but I'm going to lift and keep myself in good condition.
What are you going to study?
Finance. I may try to be a financial advisor. I like money and I'm pretty good at math.
Do you have any big summer vacations planned?
I'm going to Myrtle Beach with my teammate Justin Weig, and I'm going to nationals in Nevada with my travel team, Pittsburgh Volleyball Club.
Claim to fame: A Pitt-Greensburg recruit, Smith had four hits, including a three-run homer that capped a five-run fifth inning in the Bridgers' 5-3 win over District 3 champion Greencastle-Antrim in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals on Saturday. Smith also was credited with the win after working in relief. She has been dominant at the plate this postseason, as she also hit a three-run homer in a victory over West Mifflin in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals.
What's been your approach at the plate in the playoffs?
I just try to step up and do my job and put the ball in play. I'm not doing anything different from the regular season. I did do a workout regimen before the season started, and I think it paid off because my hitting improved.
Why did you select Pitt-Greensburg?
The coach actually approached me at a travel tournament. I love him. He's a great guy. I went to visit the campus and it was beautiful. I'll definitely enjoy playing softball there.
Do you have a major in mind?
Right now, I'm going to study pre-dental. I just want to be a dental hygienist by the time I am done.
What moment about your high school career stands out?
I would say the very last game we just played. Being able to bring us back in the game and have that hit that helped us make it to the next round. That was a big moment for me.
— Brian Graham