Thomas Jefferson mother, daughter share WPIAL volleyball honors
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Angie Ryce Yurkovich of Jefferson Hills knows what it feels like to be an All-WPIAL selection in volleyball.
She received second-team All-WPIAL honors as a senior at Baldwin High School after the 1988-89 season.
Yurkovich now is an assistant coach with the Thomas Jefferson girls' volleyball program. Her daughter, Allie Yurkovich, a libero for the Lady Jaguars, followed in her mother's footsteps this year by being named All-WPIAL in Class AA.
Allie and Rachel Stover, both juniors, were first-team selections. TJ senior Renee Miller was a second team selection.
The Lady Jaguars were undefeated section champions in 2013. Their season ended with a loss to Knoch in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals.
Allie Yurkovich, 16, has been playing organized volleyball since she was 11. However, she was going to the gym with her mom for years prior to that.
Angie Yurkovich has held various coaching positions at Baldwin, Peters Township and Thomas Jefferson since the early 1990's. She has served as an assistant to TJ head coach Ron Kelly since 2003.
“Love of the sport keeps me coaching,” she said. “It's a sport that requires complete team effort. It builds a lot of discipline, and teaches life lessons that carry into all aspects of life.”
Angie, who is married to Bill Yurkovich, a 1989 Baldwin graduate who went on to play outside linebacker at Carnegie Mellon University, is thrilled Allie enjoys the sport as much as she does.
Coaching her own daughter has been a great experience. But she knows she's been tougher on Allie at times because of their familial bond.
“My expectations are higher for her. I don't want anyone to ever think that she got a position because she's the coach's kid. She has to earn it,” Angie said.
Allie often is asked how she feels about having her mother as one of her coaches. Her response is always the same.
“I love it. Yeah, she pushes me harder. But I wouldn't be the player that I am without her,” Allie said.
Allie Yurkovich is a 5-foot-8 libero for the Lady Jaguars. She loves playing the position because it allows her to be a leader in the backcourt.
“I'm the last line of defense. The play doesn't happen without me, and I love that,” she said.
Allie is looking forward to the club volleyball season, which will start soon and run through the end of May. Allie plays for Pittsburgh Elite, one of three local club volleyball organizations in the area.
The local netter always knew she wanted to play volleyball in college.
“Ever since I saw that high level of play, I wanted to be a part of it,” she said.
Allie admits a huge weight was lifted off her shoulders when she made a verbal commitment in July to continue her volleyball career at Robert Morris University in 2015. She plans to study biology.
“I've been to the campus for a lot of camps,” Allie said. “I know the coach and he's great. Then I saw the team play and they're awesome.”
Stover is a 6-1 right-side hitter, while Miller is a 6-foot middle hitter. Both still are sorting through her college options.
There are other members of the TJ squad who plan to play volleyball after high school, including Lexi German. The 5-9 senior outside hitter has committed to Carlow for next season.
Yurkovich, Stover, Miller and German all were named Section 7-AA all-stars.
Next year, Allie's younger sister, Morgan, will be a freshman at Thomas Jefferson. She also is a volleyball player, though she is a setter and not a libero.
In 2015, the torch will be passed and it will be up to Morgan to keep the family legacy alive with continued success on the volleyball court.
Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer.
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