Hampton, North Allegheny standouts form unstoppable grass volleyball duo

Saturday, August 6, 2022 | 8:01 AM

Emmy Schrom is a talented 6-foot-1 junior outside hitter at Hampton.

Kyra Schmidt is a skillful 5-11 junior outside hitter at North Allegheny.

They are friends and teammates on the Pittsburgh 16U White squad in the Revolution Volleyball Club.

As a tandem, they are pretty much unbeatable.

Schrom and Schmidt, both 16, entered a 2022 AVP Grass Tour event, the Pittsburgh Grass Open held July 30-31, as defending champion in the girls 18U junior division.

And they won it again.

“Kyra and I went 6-0 on the day,” Schrom said. “Our expectation going in was to defend our title. We knew more teams would be there than in 2021, so we knew the road to the championship would be more of a grind.

“We both played well and maintained a very strong and consistent level of play despite the poor weather later in the day.”

Schmidt anticipated a tough draw in the tournament against girls one and two years older than she and Schrom.

“As defending champs, Emmy and I were expecting every team to really give us their all,” Schmidt said, “and that we would have some tough competition. We also weren’t sure what to expect because we were playing up in the 18U age group.

“Overall, I believe Emmy and I had a great tournament. But there are always aspects of the game that we are going to work to improve and get better on.”

The sixth annual tournament, sponsored by Pittsburgh Grass Volleyball in partnership with Allegheny County Parks, took place at the South Park Fairgrounds. It was a doubles event for junior boys and girls divisions and adult men, women and co-ed categories.

Schrom and Schmidt have been Revolution teammates for two years and have developed a strong camaraderie. Knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses makes them a tough twosome to beat.

Communication is key in a two-on-two volleyball event.

“To prepare for the tournament, we find a field near us and set up a grass net. Most of the time, we invite two other club or school teammates to play even if they aren’t in the tournament,” Schrom said. “Kyra and I work so well together because we both have a well-rounded game that works well in doubles. We know how to communicate with each other. Kyra is competitive and a great teammate; she’s nice off the court and focused on the court.”

Although 16U and 18U divisions were held in this year’s tournament, Schrom and Schmidt — both eligible to compete at the 16U level — opted to defend their 18U division championship.

“Emmy and I really work well together because we have played together at Revolution Volleyball Club. We have also known each other through the sport long before that,” Schmidt said. “I own a grass volleyball net, so to practice, we normally will go to a local park and set up the net, as well as invite a few of our teammates to scrimmage against and do some grass volleyball drills.”

Schrom noted that other high school netters from North Hills communities also competed at the grass open and were successful in their respective divisions.

Lily Muczinski (Hampton) and Ashlyn Fazio (North Hills) placed third in the 16U girls division, while Logan Peterson, Zach Wurzer, Cam Miller, Donovan Ronel, Dante Palumbo and Zach Rosenwald were among the Shaler athletes who fared well in the boys competition.

Schrom and Muczinski, a 5-7 freshman setter, captured second place in their division at the recent Pottstown Rumble Volleyball Tournament.

“Pottstown was really great,” Schrom said. “The level of play was extremely high and the atmosphere on the field was great.”

Schrom and Muczinski planned to participate in the Susquehanna Smash volleyball event near Lancaster on Aug. 5.

Grass volleyball is similar to beach volleyball with two-on-two or four-on-four tournaments, and it is hugely popular in Eastern Pennsylvania.

The inspiration to start Pittsburgh Grass Volleyball came from years of local groups attending the Pottstown Rumble in Montgomery County. Hence, old school rules with side-out scoring and no net serves apply for the Pittsburgh tournament.

The Pittsburgh Grass Open is the largest outdoor volleyball tournament in the Pittsburgh area.

Is the chance for a third consecutive grass open title on the horizon for the tough-to-tackle S&S duo?

“As of now, I know we would love to be able to defend our title next year,” said Schrom, who like Schmidt soon will be turning attention to the high school season.

Schrom and Schmidt anticipate highly successful fall seasons for their respective teams at Hampton and North Allegheny thanks to outstanding talent at both schools.

“Despite losing some key seniors (to graduation) last year, we have a lot of depth on our roster and nearly every girl has been training in the offseason at various clubs,” Schrom said. “We hope to grow stronger as a team and expect to have another successful season.”

Schmidt is looking to return to an outside hitting position after competing for half of last season as a defensive specialist due to an ankle injury.

“I believe we have a lot of talented girls, both returning and new players, that are ready to get after it and put in the work,” she said. “We have been working hard with open gyms and workouts throughout the summer, so that will really help prepare us for the tough competitors we are going to face.

“I believe I can speak for the team when I say we are all looking forward to a great start to this 2022 season.”

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