Senior Spotlight: Norwin outside hitter follows 5 siblings into college volleyball
Saturday, May 30, 2020 | 7:01 AM
Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
The youngest of six siblings, Joey Ferragonio saw his brothers and sisters forge successful high school volleyball careers at Norwin and continue on at their respective colleges.
Mike played at New York University, Matt joined the club team at West Virginia, Rebecca and Catherine played at Clarion, and Maria graduated last year after playing three seasons at Division I Eastern Kentucky.
Now, it’s time for the youngest Ferragonio to test the collegiate waters. The Norwin senior has committed to Division I St. Francis (Pa.) where he plans to major in finance and economics. He will be a Red Flash freshman teammate of Bethel Park 2020 graduate Tony Boff, a libero who garnered all-state honors last season.
“I am happy to take after my brothers and sisters and play in college, but I am ready to also carve my own path,” said Ferragonio, who earned Class AAA All-WPIAL second-team honors in 2019 after helping lead the Knights to a third-place finish in Section 3 and the No. 7 seed in the WPIAL playoffs. Norwin, however, was taken down by No. 10 Pine-Richland in the first round.
When the Knights returned to the court this spring, Ferragonio said an experienced core, including a half-dozen seniors, were poised to make another run. The 6-foot-2 outside hitter said the team fared well in a scrimmage at Fox Chapel before the season came to a halt.
“We all had developed a lot of chemistry together,” Ferragonio said.
Ferragonio said he is looking forward to staying in shape with a workout plan from his St. Francis coaches. An avid golfer, he also hopes to soon begin working as a caddie at the Pittsburgh Field Club.
Did losing to Pine-Richland in the WPIAL first round last year create a lot of motivation for the returning group?
It was disappointing. We really had high hopes for last year, and we thought we could go further than we did. But Pine-Richland was a pretty good team with (6-7 outside hitter) Luke Olson on the outside. He was hard to stop. A lot players put a lot of work in during the offseason. It was frustrating to not be able to play because we were pretty optimistic about this year.
How did you feel WPIAL Class AAA was shaping up this spring?
There were a lot of good teams like Bethel Park, Hempfield and Shaler that would’ve challenged for the title. North Allegheny was going to be pretty young this year, and they are normally a powerhouse. They will be super good in a couple of years. There were opportunities for us, but we knew there were going to be some great teams to go up against.
You wore jersey No. 2 at Norwin. Any significance to having that number?
Not necessarily, but my brother (Matt) wore that number in high school, and I looked up to him. When (No. 2) was open my sophomore year, I took it.
Who is an individual volleyball player you’ve most enjoyed going up against in high school?
Definitely (Penn State commit) Will Kuhns from Hempfield. We’ve been on the same club team since I can remember. We always loved competing against each other. He’s the best player I’ve gone up against. There’s a lot of respect between the two of us.
What is your best memory of playing volleyball at Norwin?
There’s probably two that stand out the most. Winning three tournaments last year was awesome. Last year, also, we rallied to beat both Penn-Trafford and Latrobe in five (games). That was an amazing feeling
How did your brothers and sisters help shape your passion for volleyball?
For as long as I can remember, I was always in a gym watching them play. I wanted to take after them and become a good player like they were. They were all good at ball control. Matt and Mike were also outside hitters, so I wanted to be like them and be an outside hitter, too.
What made St. Francis (Pa.) the right college home for you?
The atmosphere of the campus really influenced me, and the coaches and players really showed me how great of a volleyball program it is. There will be some familiar (WPIAL) faces there, which I am excited for. But my main priority was academics. I wanted to make sure the school was the right fit for me academically, and then volleyball came second. But St. Francis fit me both ways.
You also golfed for Norwin. How did you develop your love of that sport?
My brothers and dad also golfed, and when I was younger, I would go to the driving range or play some easier courses. I started to play more competitively before my freshman year. I played all four years and loved it.
Was it nice to get back to golfing when the courses reopened earlier this month?
Yes, it was awesome. I went with a couple of my friends the weekend they opened.
What are you looking to improve upon in your volleyball game before you get to St. Francis?
I just need to keep working on my ball control, like serve-receive, for sure. That is definitely going to elevate way faster when you get to college. That’s what I think will help me get on the court the most. I want to be prepared for that.
If you could pick anyone to give a commencement speech, who would it be and why?
I would say Denzel Washington would be really good. He could talk about all the times he’s failed but pushed through and become successful in life.
If you were asked to give a speech, what advice would you give to underclassmen?
It is important to move past your mistakes and have a short memory. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t let them affect what you do in the future.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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