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Koval set to lead Seton-La Salle girls' volleyball team into Class AA competition

| Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, 8:55 p.m.

The Seton La Salle girls' volleyball team is excited about the 2012 season.

The varsity program has struggled a bit the last few years, as the Lady Rebels earned their last section title in 2008.

Things are different this year.

The Lady Rebels have a new head coach, and have moved up from the WPIAL Class A ranks to join Section 6-AA.

Freedom resident Kevin Hummert, 36, will lead the team this season. Hummert is cautiously optimistic about how the Lady Rebels will fare in Class AA action.

“My expectations altered for Seton because of the move to Double A, but I am still holding them to the high standard of going undefeated in section and hopefully making a successful run in the WPIAL playoff,” Hummert said.

“And if Seton was in Single A, let's just say I would have considered us one of the top three teams in the WPIAL.”

Hummert will use a 10-player rotation with several returning starters in the lineup.

Abby Koval, a senior, is among those expected to lead the Lady Rebels this year. It was a welcome surprise for the new head coach when he saw Koval play.

“She's been setting for two years,” Hummert said. “She's very confident on the court and understands the setting position. It's one less thing for me to worry about.”

Koval, 17, who is from Brentwood and attended St. Elizabeth Elementary School, has played volleyball since the fifth grade.

She would like to continue her volleyball career in college, and plans to study speech pathology.

“I've tried every sport, but I like volleyball the best,” Koval said.

The local athlete enjoys her role as a setter, which she said is comparable to a quarterback on a football team.

“You lead the team. After you get a good pass, you get to decide what to do next,” she said.

The local athlete likes her team's chances for success going into the 2012 season.

“The way it looks now, I think we're going to be good,” Koval said. “It's going to be a challenge but I think we're up for it. We had all the skills before, but we weren't working together. We weren't focused, but we are now.

“I want to see how far we can go in the playoffs.”

Angela Heintz also is expected to be a big contributor for the Lady Rebels this season.

Heintz, a senior, has committed to play basketball at Duquesne University next year. Hummert has been working on transforming her into a true volleyball player — not just a basketball player who also plays volleyball.

“We're working on refining her skills,” Hummert said. “She brings a lot of athleticism, personality and maturity to the game. She's the total package. I wish this wasn't her last year with us.”

Twins Tia and Toni Torchia, both juniors, could be the difference-makers for the Lady Rebels this season.

Hummert predicts a good outcome for his team if the two outside hitters are successful putting balls away.

“They just go, go, go,” he said of the Torchia twins. “If they have a good season, we'll win the section.”

Lindsey Fairley and Julianna Ross, a pair of juniors, are leading contenders for the libero position.

“They're working hard for it,” Hummert said. “The ability to pass the ball to the setter is what makes a good team.”

The libero position is a fairly new position in high school that has changed the dynamics of the game in recent years.

The libero's primary role is passing.

With a libero on the court, there are fewer substitutions during a game.

According to Hummert, shorter players usually make good liberos because they are “closer to the floor” and can dive quickly to save balls.

Seton-La Salle will travel to South Fayette on Sept. 11 for its first section matchup of the season.

The Lady Lions, who historically are strong, are one of the teams to beat in the section.

“I'd rather face them later in the season, after we get the nerves out of the way,” Hummert said. “But it would be great to sneak away with a win.”

Other players in the starting rotation for the Lady Rebels include senior Alex Shilken, juniors Brianne Colligan and Shelby Williams, along with sophomore Laura Nath.

Junior varsity team members this season include sophomores Morgan Henderson and Sommer Waskiewicz, and freshmen Cassandra Barone, Angelina Cerro, Nicole Colligan, Jillian Gisoni, Michaela Mahoney, Michelle Sanders and Jenna Vojtecky.

Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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