Southmoreland volleyball enjoying great season under coaching of Kurtz

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Sunday, September 17, 2023 | 6:46 PM


Tom Kurtz was working at a volleyball match last year when he noticed how well the Southmoreland girls were playing.

He asked then-Southmoreland athletic director Dan Boring who was coaching the team. The answer was Boring and his wife, Amber, on an interim bases.

Bored with officiating, Kurtz applied for the job and got it.

“I fell into a gold mine,” Kurtz said. “Southmoreland returned all the players and everything was in place. I kept Amber on staff because the girls really liked her. I’m teaching them my defensive and offensive schemes. We haven’t lost a set.”

Southmoreland is 7-0 heading into Monday’s nonsection match against a talented Frazier squad (Class A) at home. The Scotties sit atop of the Section 3-2A standings with one game left in the first half of the schedule.

The Scotties still have a section match Thursday against McGuffey to conclude the first half of the season. Kurtz said he expects the team will continue to dominate in the section.

He is excited to see how his team fares against a well-coached Frazier squad.

“They’ll give us a good test,” Kurtz said. “Coaching is important at this level, and the top coaches are good at making adjustments.”

Kurtz, 64, previously coached high school volleyball at Charleroi and Chartiers-Houston and was a college assistant at Chatham and Bethany.

He hasn’t scheduled many nonsection matches because he wants to keep the players fresh for the WPIAL playoffs.

“A lot of these girls play softball,” Kurtz said. “They are winners, and they want to learn. They are working hard.”

Some of the top starters include senior middle hitter Amarah McCutcheon, senior outside hitter Kaylee Doppelheuer and junior setter Riley Puckey.

The other starters are sophomore right side hitter Zoey Welling, junior outside hitter Makayla Etling, sophomore libero Ainsley Martin and junior middle hitter Taylor Doppelheuer.

Others to see action include senior defender Gianna Perbonish, senior defender Gwen Basinger, senior setter Addy O’Rear and senior middle hitter Gabby Grabiak.

“They are sponges,” Kurtz said. “They can get better. As much as we’ve improved this season, we’ll be that much better next year. Coaching this group has been fun.”

Kurtz said he’s not sure how many, if any, section titles Southmoreland has won.

He is excited about what they can do in the WPIAL playoffs.

He can’t wait to see.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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