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Penn-Trafford’s Tarabrella shows versatility on volleyball court

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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Nick Tarabrella competes at North Allegheny's tournament Saturday, March 24, 2018, at North Allegheny.

Penn-Trafford’s Nick Tarabrella has made a name for himself on the turf during his high school career.

The senior was a standout forward for the soccer team and a kicker for the football team. On the gridiron, he received all-conference honors and finished as the program’s career leader in extra points and field goals.

But Tarabrella has shown his versatility this spring with the volleyball team.

He received player of the week honors from the Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association on April 2 and has helped the Warriors start the season with a 10-1 record.

While being a soccer player and kicker in football might not seem like they have skills that would translate to the court, Tarabrella said the intangibles have been similar for each sport.

“Teamwork, leadership and the will to win has carried through in all three sports,” Tarabrella said.

The 6-foot-4 Tarabrella was one of only three returning starters for Penn-Trafford this season. But thanks to his size and skill set, he has been a versatile force for the Warriors.

“He is a good, all-around player,” Penn-Trafford coach Jim Schall said. “He hits really well, he is a good setter and he blocks well. He has been a great player for us.”

Tarabrella was placed in a unique situation this season. The Warriors are still trying to find the best lineup to put on the court, and the coaching staff has used Tarabrella in two positions — outside hitter and setter.

He played outside hitter last season but played setter at the junior varsity level as an underclassman.

“Both roles are major, but I don’t prefer one over the other. I will play whatever position is needed to help the team win,” Tarabrella said. “JV has helped my game tremendously, giving me experience for the varsity level.”

Being used in two different roles is a challenge. There are times when Tarabrella will switch between the positions from one game to the next.

“We had a match (last week) where he was a hitter in the first game and a setter for the second,” Schall said. “It can be tough for him in practice because he does a lot of setting. He’s not able to devote his full time to hitting. He is like a switch hitter in baseball — if he’s doing one, he’s not doing the other. But he has a pretty good handle on it.”

Tarabrella is set to continue his football career at Ashland next season. The Eagles reached the NCAA Division II Super Region 3 semifinals last season.

“Ashland felt like home as soon as I stepped foot on campus,” Tarabrella said. “It’s the school that allows me to receive a very high level education and be able to play the sport I love.”

But before he looks ahead to the college gridiron, he has some unfinished business on the volleyball court.

“Our goal is to make it to the WPIAL finals and return as the champs like two years ago,” Tarabrella said. “The bar is set very high.”

Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.

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