Hampton volleyball coach’s departure ‘heartbreaking’

Saturday, June 18, 2022 | 8:46 PM

Hampton didn’t have to look far to find its new girls volleyball coach.

And they don’t have to look far to see where their old coach ended up.

Dainen Holler, the district’s middle school coach, was promoted to the Talbots’ top spot after Annie Bozzo departed following two seasons at Hampton for her alma mater, neighboring Shaler Area.

“It was a really, really hard decision to make because I love everything about Hampton volleyball and coaching there,” Bozzo said. “But I just think this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Bozzo, who last season guided Hampton to the best season in program history, replaces Paul Stadelman, who stepped down for personal reasons after four seasons at Shaler. Bozzo, 25, was an all-state volleyball pick at Shaler before playing at Syracuse. She grew up in Shaler and teaches sixth-grade science and social studies in the district. She was inducted into the Shaler Area Athletic Hall of Fame this past fall.

“Shaler Area is my home,” she said.

Bozzo applied for the opening in early March, and after being approved for the job at the March 16 school board meeting, she gathered her players in the Hampton High School gymnasium to tell them the news.

“It was a very emotional meeting,” said Hampton’s Emmy Schrom, an all-state outside hitter who will be a junior in the fall. “The initial reaction was shock. It was kind of dead silent.

“To have a coach that basically brought our program and built it to be such a powerhouse, I mean, to lose her in only two years, it’s heartbreaking.”

Bozzo said the feeling was mutual as she reached her painstaking decision.

“I love coaching at Hampton,” she said. “I love the community. I love my players. I love the parents. I loved working under (athletic director) Bill Cardone. I can’t say enough great things about coaching at Hampton. But it was just this opportunity.

“I would not have left Hampton for anywhere else but Shaler.”

Holler, 30, has coached Hampton middle school volleyball the past three seasons. He is a physical education teacher at Central Elementary School and played at Penn Hills, where he was a member of the school’s 2009 PIAA Class 3A runner-up before attending Slippery Rock.

“I’m excited to get to work with these girls,” he said. “They are a competitive group, and they eat, sleep and breathe volleyball. It’s exciting to walk into a program with such great culture.

“Annie built a great foundation for the program. … I’m excited for her at Shaler, but I’m also excited for myself and the opportunity to step in and take the program to new heights and build off her success from the past two years.”

Hampton last season reached the WPIAL finals for the second time and the PIAA finals for the first time. The Talbots graduated all-state middle hitter Kai Herchenroether, but they return Schrom, second-team all-section middle hitter Addison Gindlesperger and third-team all-section outside hitter Emma Rick.

Holler isn’t a newcomer to the varsity program. He helped out with divided practices during the covid restrictions and has worked with some of the players in club volleyball.

“He knows most of the girls in the program,” Schrom said.

“He knows what we are built of. … I think there is going to be a very smooth transition. I think we should pick up where we left off.”


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