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Volleyball

Seton-La Salle boys volleyball hopes to make bigger splash to close season

| Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 4:48 p.m.

The Seton-La Salle boys' volleyball team may have found its niche.

The Rebels, who started out slowly this season, are looking to make a push toward the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.

“We had a rough start, but I think we've finally found a lineup that really suits our strengths,” Mark Felbinger, Seton-La Salle's head coach, said. “It has taken a while to build some team chemistry, but we've been improving every game.

“We have a couple of sophomores who are really progressing nicely and are starting to contribute more. I'm expecting to be much more competitive during the second half of the season.”

Seton's starting lineup is filled by three seniors, two juniors and two sophomores.

The starters consist of Evan Szejko, a senior right-side hitter; sophomore Adam Rusnak and senior Jimmy Lydic, at middle hitter; sophomore Daniel Dixon and junior Ryan Kendrick, at outside hitter; Devin Gilfoyle, a junior setter; and Grayson Kisker, a senior libero.

Szejko is the team captain and one of three returning starters this year, along with Gilfoyle and Kisker.

“My expectation for the remaining part of the season is to achieve the section title. This will be difficult, but I have faith in my team,” said Szejko, who has a weighted grade-point average of 4.25 while taking honors classes at Seton-La Salle.

“Our (team) strengths are our aggressive hitters and our setter. If we can get a pass up, I am confident we will win the point. Another strength we have is we are smart on the court and will fight to make sure a ball doesn't drop.”

Szejko, a member of the environmental and cinema clubs at Seton-La Salle, plans to attend either Robert Morris or Pitt.

“Because I plan to major in film in college, I try to be at any movie sets and other (related) activities there are in the area,” he said. “I would just like to add how much fun these last few years have been playing volleyball. I'm looking forward to college, but there is nothing I'll miss more than playing volleyball with some of my best friends.”

Key reserves for the Rebels this year are juniors Augie Collins (S/RS) and Brendan Killen (OH), sophomore Caleb Klemick (L) and freshman Tegan Collins (RS).

Rusnak, who stands 6-foot-5, is the Rebels' tallest player.

Seton-La Salle opened its 2016 section schedule with back-to-back losses to South Park and Obama Academy, followed by a 3-1 win at Steel Valley.

The Rebels will host McNeilly Road-rival Keystone Oaks on Monday, and play at Obama Academy on Wednesday.

Prior to this week's action, South Park stood in first place in Section 3-AA with a 5-0 record, and was followed by Obama Academy (3-2), Thomas Jefferson (2-2), Keystone Oaks (2-2), Seton-La Salle (1-2) and Steel Valley (0-5).

“We're hoping to qualify for the playoffs in a very competitive section,” said Felbinger, who is assisted by Katie Jackson.

*****

There are close to 30 athletes in the boys' volleyball program at Seton-La Salle this season.

The Rebels' junior varsity squad consists of seniors Henry Pearce and Anthony Capretto; juniors Ballard Powell, Jerome Wassel and Jackson Doyle; sophomores Mark Mitchell, Cullen Vereb, Robert Gigliotti and Zach Horensky; plus freshman prospects Kyle Killen, Vinny Santos, James Sanchioli, Ian Contis, Andrew Lyle, Xavier Huetter, Chris Sigg, Wes Hoge and Alex Gamrat.

Ray Fisher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or rfisher@tribweb.com.

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