Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Upper St. Clair Is in Contention for Playoff Berth

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Upper St. Clair Is in Contention for Playoff Berth

Article excerpt

Josh Ficorilli has an interesting resume.

"I teach health and physical education at Crafton Elementary in the Carlynton School District," said Ficorilli, the new head boys volleyball coach at Upper St. Clair. "I'm also an assistant football coach at Quaker Valley. I coach the running backs and linebackers."

Ficorilli took over as head volleyball coach at Upper St. Clair when Jack Zebo stepped down after 15 seasons.

"In August, Jack told me he was thinking about hanging it up," said Ficorilli, who served as one of Zebo's assistant coaches the past five years. "He has three young kids and coaching was cutting into his time with the kids."

Ficorilli immediately contacted Mark Killinger, Zebo's other assistant coach.

"I asked Mark if he was interested in the head coaching job, since he had been with Jack for a year longer than me," Ficorilli said. "Mark is the head girls [volleyball] coach at Charleroi and he didn't want to take on another head coaching job, but told me I should apply."

Ficorilli applied and was hired, and Killenger returned as an assistant.

"The transition went very smoothly because we are both familiar with the program," Ficorilli said. "My title has changed, but the goal is still the same -- compete for the section title and qualify for the WPIAL playoffs."

And that's just what the Panthers are in the process of doing.

Upper St. Clair has a 6-2 record in Class AAA Section 1. Three- time defending champion Bethel Park leads the section with a 7-0 mark, while Peters Township is second at 7-1.

The Panthers defeated Baldwin, 3-1, on Tuesday to stay in contention, while Peters shut out Central Catholic, 3-0. Bethel Park was idle.

"I expected us to be one of the top three teams in the section and that's just where we stand," Ficorilli said. "I'm very pleased with our performance thus far, especially considering eight of the top 12 players from last year's squad graduated."

Upper St. Clair plays host to Central Catholic tonight, then has two big matches next week. The Panthers play at Bethel Park on Tuesday, then play host to Peters Township next Thursday.

"We're obviously looking forward to those two matches, but we can't afford to look past Central Catholic," said Ficorilli, a 1997 graduate of Deer Lakes High School who went on to play libero at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. …

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