Hempfield’s Schade signs with Eastern Kentucky

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Thursday, January 4, 2018 | 7:09 PM


A trip to the WPIAL volleyball semifinals in the fall was more rewarding than Kierstin Schade could have imagined.

Schade helped underdog Hempfield reach the Class 4A final four as the 12th-seeded Spartans logged upsets against No. 5 seed Pine-Richland and No. 4 Baldwin.

They lost to No. 1 North Allegheny in the semis, but Schade was greeted with a nice consolation prize: a Division I scholarship offer.

The 6-foot-2 senior middle hitter didn't know Eastern Kentucky coaches were quietly following her progress. EKU head coach Lori Duncan is a 1980 Norwin graduate and is known for recruiting players from the WPIAL.

Schade gladly accepted the offer and on Thursday afternoon made the deal official by signing her letter of intent.

“The coach's sister came to see me play … I was super-shocked,” Schade said. “The next day, I sent film and some background and they set up an official visit. I loved the campus.”

Schade also had offers from Division II schools Edinboro and Seton Hill.

“She has wonderful size and can be such a game-changer,” Hempfield coach Kathy Kuhns said. “Her arm-swing is very natural. She led us in the playoffs.”

Once a promising softball player — a catcher, in fact, despite her height — Schade quit that sport after the seventh grade to pursue volleyball.

“I think it hit me in ninth grade that I had a realistic chance to play in college,” she said. “I had some knee injuries, but I worked hard to rehab with Greg (Meisner) and he really helped me get back. I really love volleyball and I am willing to put in all the time and effort to play at the next level.”

Meisner, Hempfield's athletic director, spends hours in the school's weight room working with student-athletes.

“We put her through an NFL workout,” Meisner said. “She worked really hard to get to where she is.”

Duncan has coached at her college alma mater for two decades. Other WPIAL players on the most recent EKU roster included Maria Ferragonio (Norwin), Kaylin Johnson (McKeesport), Clairissa Hankinson (Plum), Lauren Kolenik (Serra Catholic) and Celina Sanks (Knoch).

North Allegheny's Mika Logan is another incoming recruit.

“I looked up to (Ferragonio) as a D-1 player,” Schade said. “It's crazy to think I will be going to the same school as her. She played 15 minutes down the road from me.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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