Matt Episcopo steps into new role leading Brentwood girls volleyball

Saturday, August 20, 2022 | 8:39 PM

The Brentwood girls volleyball team will be facing some tall orders this season.

And Brentwood fans definitely will notice Brentwood’s first-year head coach Matt Episcopo at the team’s matches.

Episcopo stands 6-foot-3 and is a former outside/middle hitter who competed in Junior Olympic volleyball for the Pittsburgh Golden Triangles in 1994 and ‘95.

He was hired to take over for the 5-5 Kayla Hubsch, who resigned following the 2021 season for family reasons. Hubsch was a diminutive outside hitter during her playing days at Brentwood.

Not only is it Episcopo’s first year in charge of Brentwood’s varsity team, it is his first venture into the head coaching ranks. He is employed as a cafeteria porter in the school district after working 18 years in the printing industry.

“Kayla is a teacher for the middle school at Brentwood. When I got to know her, we would talk about the volleyball team a lot,” Episcopo said. “Fast forward two years, Kayla needed an assistant coach and I applied.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity. I was away from the game for about 17 years, busy with my kids and sports. The game kind of found me again after all that time and I’m happy it did. It really added a spark to my life to give back the knowledge of the game that was passed on to me to the kids in the school and watch them grow and get better every year. I see most of my players on a daily basis throughout the school year.”

Episcopo was the JV coach and varsity assistant at Brentwood for the past four seasons.

He played volleyball at Carrick from 1993-96 and helped start a program at CCAC South where he played for two years in 1997 and ‘98.

“I grew up around the game,” Episcopo said. “My dad, aunts, uncles and older brother all played.”

Episcopo and Hubsch worked well together and share similar coaching philosophies.

“My basic philosophy would be to create a competitive and positive environment no matter what the situation may be,” Episcopo said. “Teaching players to not only believe in themselves but believe in their teammates as well, which can hopefully lead to positive outcomes of games, equaling wins.

“I’ve learned a lot from Kayla as a coach and she’s helped me a lot with the transition from assistant to head coach, and still continues to help me. I was saddened to hear when she was stepping down. It was a very tough decision for her to make and we all will miss her as our coach, but her children need her more now.”

Episcopo welcomed five returning starters from last year’s team, including seniors Olivia Trent, an outside hitter; Brianna Folino, a setter; and Makenzie Castiglione, at the libero position. All three are fourth-year varsity players.

The 5-foot-11 Trent was named first team all-section last season.

“Olivia has made an impact since her freshman year,” Episcopo said. “She’s a power hitter and loves to pound the ball. She can also play middle. She’s an all-around player and contributes with her offense out of the back row, as well. She was first team all-section as a junior in arguably the strongest section in 2A last year.

“My expectations for Olivia in her senior season would be to become a strong team leader. She has always led by example in her play and her work ethic, but I expect her to uplift and encourage her teammates to be the best they can be every day.”

Shayla Milligton, a junior outside/middle hitter, and Paige Boehm, a sophomore middle hitter, also were starters a year ago for the Spartans and are back for the 2022 season.

“My early expectations are pretty much to be the most competitive team we can be in practice and in games,” Episcopo said. “Our goal is to make the WPIAL playoffs.”

Episcopo is assisted by Taylor Thomas, who played volleyball for Otto-Eldridge High School in Pennsylvania, then played for four years at Notre Dame College.

Brentwood qualified for the WPIAL playoffs last season with a 5-7 record in Section 2-2A, won by North Catholic with a 12-0 record.

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