Penn Hills volleyball hopes to make up for lost time

Sunday, March 21, 2021 | 10:01 AM

The Penn Hills boys volleyball team is glad to be back in the gym and is looking forward to competing in 2021.

“My expectations for this season are to play,” said Jay Mitlo, the Indians veteran coach. “One year was taken from these guys, and we are elated to get to be on the court and compete.

“None of our players play club volleyball. Losing last season was incredibly detrimental to their development. It’s experience lost, development lost, time … lost. And further, we have no junior high program, so we are way behind where we need to be. We had a good amount of time in open gyms, but that can only get us so far.”

Two of the catalysts for the Indians are expected to be senior Joe Mitlo, a 6-foot-2 middle hitter/blocker, as well as senior Logan Depew, a 5-10 outside hitter. Both are returning starters.

“My son Joe is one of our captains,” said Mitlo, who coaches both the boys and girls teams at Penn Hills. “He has started as a sophomore and has really improved through our open gyms. He is taller, stronger and faster and ready to lead our young team.

“Logan has been a defensive specialist in the past but will be hitting outside this year. He is a good all-around player.”

Depew is athletic and scholarly with an outstanding 4.6 GPA.

“I expect our team to improve a lot considering the new members that joined have a lot of potential,” he said. “Personally, I would like to be an example for all the younger players to look up to.

“I’m glad to have been on the team for all four years of high school, and I’m happy to leave knowing that I’ve improved a ton since my freshman year.”

Depew, who plans to compete on a club volleyball team “for fun” after graduation, said he’s looking forward to manning an outside hitter position this season.

“The switch is great,” Depew said. “Setting taught me a lot about rotations, but hitting outside is more satisfying.”

Others looking to make an impact for the Indians this spring include seniors Chamarr Johnson (OH), Alain Tamo-Noche (OH) and Taion Ritchie (serving specialist); juniors Brayden Mallory (MH) and Charles Frachioni (OH/Libero); plus sophomores Kendall Herbert (RS) and Brendan Ramnanan (MH).

A welcomed addition to this year’s squad is Luke Hoolahan, a 5-11 freshman setter.

“Luke will be our starting setter,” said Coach Mitlo, who is pastor of Faith Community Church.

“I’m pretty sure we’ve never had a freshman starting setter in our program in the last 25 years and most likely much longer than that. His sister (Colleen) was a four-year letter winner as a setter for us and is graduating this year.”

Hoolahan placed 12th in the WPIAL in diving this year in his first season in the sport.

“We hope that experience in handling pressure will ease his transition into varsity volleyball,” Coach Mitlo said.

Additional freshman prospects include Marc Pete, Jeremy Safran, Kelsey Hundley and Daron Hewlett.

The Indians have been spending time in the preseason working on developing a starting rotation at the varsity level.

“We have not had a scrimmage yet,” Coach Mitlo said. “We have some players that have solidified spots, but there is a lot of opportunity for others to obtain playing time.

“We are very inexperienced at the varsity level. These guys have been working hard to get ready for the season.”

Mitlo has been coach of the Penn Hills boys team since 2011 and for the girls team since 1997.


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