Senior Spotlight: Hempfield outside hitter turns focus to Penn State career

Wednesday, May 6, 2020 | 11:44 AM

Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

Will Kuhns had big plans this spring for himself and the entire Hempfield boys volleyball team.

“With a team that has been together since seventh grade, and all the talented players, we were definitely looking at a section title and maybe even a run at WPIALs,” said the senior team captain who has signed to join the men’s volleyball team at Penn State.

“We were good at every position and added a 6-5 basketball kid, Marcus McCarthy. He is super big and athletic. He was making strides.”

No one graduated from last year’s Spartans team that made the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals before falling to Shaler.

Kuhns is doing what he can to stay fit this spring and is eyeing what he hopes is a bright athletic and academic future. He currently is undecided on a college major, but he is considering a kinesiology course of study.

Kuhns, also a member of the Steel City club program, grew up in a family with strong volleyball influences. His mother, Kathy, was an All-American at Gannon in the early 1990s and was inducted into the university’s athletics hall of fame in 2011. She now serves as an assistant coach for the Hempfield boys team.

Kuhns’ first structured team was in sixth grade as he helped his Pittsburgh Volleyball Club squad earn a spot at nationals in Columbus.

Kuhns capped last season with personal honors. The 6-3 outside hitter was named to the All-WPIAL second team after receiving third-team recognition as a sophomore.

Do you feel WPIAL Class AAA was going to be wide open this year?

It was wide open in our section for sure. We expected a lot of great matches. Shaler would’ve been tough with them basically being all juniors last year, too. (Defending WPIAL champion) North Allegheny lost a lot of players from last year, and it might have been a rebuilding year for them.

What is your best memory of playing volleyball at Hempfield?

There are so many good ones. I think just all the times I got to spend with my teammates, especially on game days. Bus rides home after wins, just being with them and celebrating and playing music, were pretty special.

Who is the best high school opponent you’ve gone up against?

That’s a no-brainer for me. It’s Joey Ferragonio from Norwin. He’s committed to St. Francis. I’ve played club with him for about six years. I love going up against him. I think we are pretty similar in how we play. It would’ve been great to match up against him a couple times if we would’ve had this season.

What is your best overall memory as a sports fan?

I would say when the Steelers won the Super Bowl against the Cardinals (2009). When James Harrison ran that interception back almost 100 yards. I was young and was with all my uncles and my extended family watching the game. We were all freaking out on that play.

How did you know Penn State was the right fit for you to continue your volleyball career?

We would do a tournament in State College every year. I just love the campus, and it’s been great getting to know the coaches. My visit was super great. I also have a lot of Penn Staters in my family, and I’ve grown up as a fan.

Have you seen any football games in person?

I went to a few prior to my visit. I got to see one during my visit, against Purdue, which was pretty cool. We were down on the field with a lot of the guys during pregame. That was a lot of fun.

What is the feeling like to be joining the strong tradition that is Penn State men’s volleyball?

Coach (Mark) Pavlik is such a great coach. He’s been in that program forever, basically. I can’t wait to get up there, work hard and prove myself.

Are there any areas you are looking to improve on before you begin your college career?

I am still working on getting a consistent jump serve down. It’s been a little tough since I haven’t been able to get in a gym. Hopefully, when summer comes, things will start to open up, and I will be able to work on that more.

Have you binge watched any television shows over the past couple months of stay-at-home orders?

I did the Tiger King on Netflix. I’m sure everyone in America watched that. Lately, I’ve been watching Michael Jordan’s Last Dance (documentary), which is pretty interesting.

If you could invite any three people from history to have dinner with you, who would they be?

I think Antonio Brown, (Pittsburgh rapper) Mac Miller and Abraham Lincoln. Mac Miller has been my favorite artist for a long time. I really enjoy his music, so I would want to talk to him. I would need to ask Antonio what goes through his mind. With Abraham Lincoln, it would be his great mind. Those three combined at the same table would be so interesting.

If you could pick anyone to give a commencement speech at your graduation, who would it be and why?

My grandmother, Joan. She’s a special person. I know she would mention me growing up and playing bocce with her in her yard for hours on end. I hope she would say she is proud. I love her a lot and with all that has happened, it’s been tough to not be able to go and see her and spend time with her.

If you were asked to give a speech, what advice would you give to underclassmen?

I would say, no matter what your circumstances are or what you are going after, just have fun doing it. Look at the bright side of everything. If there is something you want to do, go for it and work really hard for it.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .


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