Coach brings wealth of knowledge to Bethel Park girls volleyball team

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Saturday, September 24, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Brooke Muraco is in her fifth season coaching the Bethel Park girls volleyball team.

“It has always been a goal of mine since I was in high school to become an elementary teacher and a high school head volleyball coach,” Muraco said. “Two things I can proudly say I have followed through and achieved. My first coaching gig was the spring of my senior year of college. I coached a middle school team in Erie with one of my older teammates that was a senior when I was a freshman. It was a great and positive learning experience and an absolute blast.”

The 5-foot-7 Muraco has a rich history in the sport both as a player and coach.

She was a four-year starting setter at Penn State Behrend, where she received numerous awards including four all-conference accolades, Rookie of the Year in 2006 and Female Athlete of the Year in 2010. She competed in three ECAC tournaments and helped the Lions win the championship in 2008.

After finishing her playing time with the Lions ranked second in the program in career assists (4,170) and eighth in digs (1,226), Muraco was a 2020 inductee into the Behrend Athletics Hall of Fame.

“Phil Pisano, my college coach, saw a lot of potential in me and he did whatever he could to make me better every day in the gym,” Muraco said. “He held me accountable and demanded greatness. There was no slacking; I was always working.

“He is not only a tremendous coach but an amazing person that provided us with a skillset that allowed us to succeed on the court and now in our adult lives.”

Muraco was the starting setter for Behrend her freshman year through her senior year while never missing a match.

Prior to that, she was a four-year starting setter/right-side hitter at Southmoreland, where she received section and WPIAL honors.

“My parents played a big role in my success on the court,” Muraco said. “They sacrificed a lot taking me to club practices and tournaments. My mom and dad came to every single game in high school, club and college. Yes, every college game, including tournaments. They never missed.

“They used to come all the time, but now they watch online since majority of our games are also streamed since the pandemic.”

Muraco’s parents, Ken and Bonnie Gallentine, live in Mt. Pleasant and both played volleyball, yes, as setters.

“We never missed any of Brooke’s college matches,” Ken said. “We would travel to Erie and back the same evening to watch her play, while having to get up for work at 5 a.m. the next morning.

“We would also travel to different cities like Cleveland and Buffalo to watch her play the evening matches. We are extremely proud that she was placed in the Penn State Behrend Hall of Fame.”

Muraco, the youngest of three siblings, learned the business of setting at a young age thanks to the diligence of her parents.

“Brooke’s mother and I very proud of all her accomplishments,” Ken said.

“My wife and I both played recreational volleyball as setters and at the age of 8, Brooke would come to watch and practice her setting skills between games,” Ken said. “She started as a setter at the age of 12 for the Penn Highlands Volleyball Club. Playing club volleyball really improved her skills as a setter. Her mother and I spent almost every weekend in gymnasiums beginning in January through April until she was 18.

“Brooke was the starting setter beginning in seventh grade for the Southmoreland Junior High School team. She also started as the setter her freshman year and continued through her senior year for the Southmoreland High School team.”

Muraco was named all-section twice in high school and All-WPIAL as a senior.

Muraco, who is assisted by Jessica Hanson at Bethel Park, earned her master’s degree in elementary education at Seton Hill and teaches at Carnegie Elementary in the Carlynton School District but would like to teach in Bethel Park in the future.

The Bethel Park volleyball team started out 3-0 with nonsection wins against Bishop Canevin, Oakland Catholic and South Fayette. The Black Hawks opened section action Sept. 13 with a 3-2 loss to Peters Township.

Led by four-year starters Grace Lejeck (OH), Abby Nealy (MH) and Sophie Puzausky (RS), Bethel Park is seeking its fourth playoff appearance in five years.

Puzausky recently was lauded as a player of the week in Class 4A by the Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Association.

Prior to 2022, Muraco’s coaching record in section play was 35-17. The Black Hawks were 9-3, 10-2, 6-8 and 10-4 over the past four years.

Muraco’s coaching philosophy focuses on volleyball being a learning tool.

“Sports challenge you mentally, physically and emotionally,” Muraco said, “and define who you can become in the adult world.

“The game of volleyball creates an environment where you have no choice but to learn skills such as strong communication, leadership, teamwork, strategic thinking, empathy, drive and motivation. All of these skills can be used to succeed in everyday life.”

Muraco also has served as head coach at South Park, assistant varsity and head JV coach at Connellsville and varsity co-coach at James Monroe.

She’s coached club volleyball at P3R and with Penn Highlands Volleyball Club.

Muraco also participated in softball and cheerleading at Southmoreland. She and her husband, Tony, a former soccer standout at Baldwin, are Bethel Park residents.

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