A-K Valley athletes of the week: Knoch’s Skylar Burkett and Fox Chapel’s Colby Zmenkowski

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019 | 5:05 PM


Skylar Burkett

Class: Senior

School: Knoch

Sport: Volleyball

Report card: Burkett totaled 22 kills in Knoch’s two 3-0 sweeps in the PIAA playoffs last week. The Knights topped South Fayette in the first round and Franklin Regional in the quarterfinals. Burkett is an outside hitter and setter, and she possesses a powerful jump serve. She had three aces in the win over South Fayette.

How much have you been able to reflect on the team’s run over the last three years?

It’s pretty amazing. Not every school gets the opportunity to do what we’ve been able to do. We’re blessed to have the talented people that have come through here over the years, and I’m glad to have been a part of it since my freshman year. It’s awesome to know that I’ve contributed to all of the (girls volleyball) banners in the gym.

How has becoming a setter helped you as a player this year?

It has helped me become a well-rounded player. As a hitter, I know where hitters want the ball set, and that helps a lot. Like when I reverse set for Quinn (Hughes) or Morgan (Frishkorn), we usually get a kill on that. It’s really fun and exciting to be able to set Hannah (Rowe) and Kennedy (Christy) and watch them pound the ball down.

How much practice did it take to get comfortable, consistent and confident with your powerful jump serve?

I can’t even remember the first time I tried it. I must have been when I was in eighth grade where I saw it and wanted to learn it. You don’t see it as much in the girls game. Guys do it a lot. It came really easy to me. A lot of people have trouble with the timing and the toss, but once you get the toss, it is all about feel.

Do you have any college plans?

I definitely want to play. It’s been a struggle because I started late with the recruiting process. I haven’t been as involved as I should have been. I’m playing club this year, so I think that will help. I’m going to start visiting a lot more schools because I still haven’t got to visit all of the ones that I want to visit.

Do you have any superstitions or pregame routines?

I love coffee and drink it every single day. Sometimes I feel like coffee really helps me, but other times it messes with my stomach. I know this sounds weird, but before a match I’ll drink coffee, and halfway through the drink, if my stomach starts hurting, I stop, because I know it’s not going to go well for the game.

Do you have a favorite pregame meal?

I can’t eat a heavy meal before a game because I feel like it’ll weigh me down, and I won’t be able to jump as high. Drinking a lot of water is very important. I felt dehydrated after the last couple of games, so I’ve been drinking more water before games.

What’s your favorite school subject?

Music. I play piano, and I sing. I’m in the jazz band, the chamber singers and the quartet at school. I also write my own music.

Who are your best friends on the team?

I love all my teammates equally, but people I buddy around with are Kate McCarty, because she always is there to hype me up during games, Morgan Jack and I are really close, and I’ve been really close with Hannah this year. We’ve always been friends, but this year we really have bonded because I’m her setter, and you have to have that bond to be successful.

What’s your favorite TV show?

I’ve been into “American Horror Story” lately. It’s really creepy, but I can’t stop watching it. That’s what I’ve been binge-watching after games.

What’s something interesting that people might not know about you?

I’m pretty good on a trampoline. I go crazy on it with flips. I used to be a gymnast, and my parents thought that was what I was going to do, but then I grew a lot in one year and I stopped.

•••

Colby Zmenkowski

Class: Senior

School: Fox Chapel

Sport: Hockey

Report card: Zmenkowski scored a goal in overtime to lift Fox Chapel (2-4) to a 3-2 win over Westmont Hilltop last Tuesday. He also had an assist. For the season, Zmenkowski has four goals and six assists and has at least a point in every game.

What were the events surrounding your overtime winner?

During the overtime, I was very tired, but I just got the puck and tried to go in between the defense and shoot it. Honestly I have no clue how it went in. I went down on my backhand, got around the defender and quickly shot it on my forehand and it went in.

What can a win like that do for the team going forward?

That was a big win for us, and we have to keep winning if we’re going to make the playoffs. It hyped our student section up and our fans. It was a really exciting win.

Do you have a memorable goal or moment from your high school career?

I’d have to say (last Tuesday’s) was my most memorable goal so far. All my friends and family were there supporting me, so it meant a lot to me to score that goal for them.

Who is your favorite NHL player?

Sidney Crosby. I love the way he plays. He’s a shorter guy like myself, and he’s not afraid to get into the corners and sometimes throw big hits and stick up for his team. Just all in all, he’s a very good player.

Do you have a favorite pregame meal?

I usually eat chicken fingers and fries with a Dr. Pepper at Primanti Bros.

Do you have any superstitions or pregame routines?

I always put everything on my left on first. I start with my left glove, then left shin pad and left elbow pad and skate. I also tape my stick the same way, and if it’s not good, I have to retape it. I always listen to the same song before I go out on the ice.

What song?

“Noticed” by Lil Mosey

What’s your favorite school subject?

I like English, especially the writing part. It keeps my attention in class.

Who are your best friends on the team?

Reed Troutman and my linemates, Ricky and Danny Downey. Ricky and Danny are brothers and really hard-working kids. I’ve been playing with Reed and Ricky for three or four years now.

What’s your favorite TV show?

“Jersey Shore.” I watch it with my sister a lot, and it’s really funny.

What’s something interesting that people may not know about you?

I like to golf a lot.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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