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Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association recognized Nathan Zini and Wes Hoge as two of its Players of the Week in Class AA of the WPIAL. The Seton LaSalle teammates earned the distinction during the final two weeks of the regular season.

Zini shared the honor with Bishop Canevin’s middle hitter Colten Gaitens, North Catholic’s middle hitter Josh Bell and Trinity’s senior setter Trevor Filer.

The sophomore earned the distinction for his 52 kills, six service aces and six blocks. He also maintained a +.312 hitting percentage. The All-WPIAL and All-Section performer as a freshman had just returned to the starting lineup after having turned his ankle April 25.

The right side hitter recently added to his résumé. He was named to the USAV A-1 High Performance team for his age group for the second year in a row. The distinction means he is one of the Top 50 male players in the country for his age division.

Last year, he went to Tulsa, Okla., to train for 11 days. This year, he will be going to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to do the same in July.

During the winter, Zini plays for Exile Volleyball Club.

Meanwhile, Hoge earned his award for his play during the Rebels’ season-ending matches against Keystone Oaks and Bishop Canevin. The Rebels finished section play undefeated at 8-0 and 13-1 overall. The Rebels are ranked second in the district behind Derry and No. 9 in the state.

A Venetia resident, Hoge recorded 21 kills, seven blocks and four aces. The 6-4 middle hitter maintained a +.326 hitting average. A two-time all-section performer, he will continue his playing career at Geneva College.

The Rebels entered the WPIAL playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Class AA tournament. It is the first time in the history of the program that the Rebels have been seeded in the top four.

“My players have worked hard to get to this level and deserve the honor,” said SLS coach John Lawrence.

The WPIAL playoffs, which commenced May 16, culminate with the championship matches scheduled for May 23 at Fox Chapel.

In order to contend for a district title, coach John Lawrence said his Rebels must remain focus on the task at hand. They trained hard during the season as well as participating in an extensive off-season training program since last June in the hopes of experiencing success this spring.

“We need to keep our focus on the team that is across the net from us and not look ahead to anyone,” he said.

Though the teams have not played this spring, Lawrence said his Rebels “match up well” against Derry.

Lawrence watched the Trojans’ game against North Allegheny and has received scouting reports on the team, which features Penn State recruit John Kerr. A standout in basketball, Kerr has accumulated more than 1,000 kills in his career to go along with some 330 digs, 111 blocks and 33 aces.

In opening round playoff action: SLS advanced to the semifinals set for May 21 by sweeping Beaver County Christian, 3-0. Setter Luke Manion and Zachary Miller earned the Rebels’ Green Jackets as players of the match.

The Rebels now face Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at 6 p.m. May 21 at North Allegheny in the semifinals. Derry and Ambridge follow at 7:30 p.m.

In Class AAA, North Allegheny remained atop of the coaches’ rankings, followed by Bethel Park. Both received first-round byes in the WPIAL team tournament and resumed action on May 16.

The Hawks defeated Pine-Richland, 4-1, in the first round of the playoffs. BP opened with straight set, 25-12, victories before dropping game three, 25-23. The Hawks finished off the Rams, 25-15, in the fourth game.

BP will take on Shaler at 6 p.m. May 21 at Fox Chapel in the semifinals while NA takes on Latrobe at 7:30 p.m.

The WPIAL championships in both divisions will be played May 23 at Fox Chapel. Class AA at 6 p.m. and Class AAA follows.

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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