Chris Rotelli takes charge of the Pine-Richland men’s volleyball program

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Sunday March 27, 2022 | 11:01 a.m.


Chris Rotelli has been a coach for 25 years and in previous positions he had to build a program from scratch.

That’s exactly what he plans to do with Pine-Richland Men’s Volleyball.

It won’t happen overnight, but with the principles he puts in place on and off the field, he intends to topple the Rams in the future.

“We’re stripping it down to the cleats and getting back to learning the basics,” Rotelli said. “We have to build a foundation and understand that this is a process and it will take more than a year to see the results of this process.”

Rotelli coached the Pine-Richland Middle School men’s volleyball team last year and takes over for Shawn Grady’s varsity team. He also coaches the Pittsburgh Elite Volleyball Club’s 12U and 14U men’s teams.

Prior to Pine-Richland, Rotelli had a lot of different practice stops.

He got his start coaching as an assistant on the women’s volleyball team at his alma mater Plattsburgh, NY, while in college.

He then served as an assistant on Carnegie Mellon’s women’s volleyball team before taking over the Tartans’ men’s program and guiding them to a top-five national ranking in Division I club volleyball. .

He also coached the Vincentian Academy Cross Country Team to five consecutive Class A WPIAL titles from 2015-2019.

One element he took away from each stop was the camaraderie within the program. That’s what he’s aiming for at Pine-Richland. Last year, 28 players came out for the college team, which he said was the highest turnout they had ever had.

Going forward, his goal is to establish a youth program to bring more players into the system early before college and to ensure that everyone in the program knows each other from college to the bottom.

One way he’ll do this is to schedule integrated workouts, where college players train with younger players.

“We’re really trying to develop the program from a holistic perspective,” Rotelli said. “We want all seventh graders to know seniors and JV kids and vice versa. We are no longer going to exist on an island with the university program. We want to build a long-term program. Rather than it being a year-over-year outlook, we want it to be set out three years at a time, so that we can look at those three years and then the next three rather than having to worry about next year all the time.

In the present, Pine-Richland only fires two starters – seniors Justin Puthenpurayil (libero) and Colby Patrick (opposite hitter). A pair of freshmen, Matteo Rotelli (setter) and Luke Jancy (outside hitter), will enter the rotation along with junior outside hitter John Varghese. Two seniors absent for the team for the first time, Colin Ohlund and Evan Dougal, will play the middle hitter. Rotelli was impressed with how quickly each newcomer acclimated to the position.

“I’m delighted that we have some new athletic seniors this year who are back in the game quickly,” Rotelli said. “We have a good mix of experiences. They’re not the greatest players, but they understand how the game works. They know rotations, defenses and basic strategy which is great. From here, we must continue to build on what we started in the eighth grade program. »

Pine-Richland is in a tough 2-3A section that includes four-time defending WPIAL champion and three-time defending state champion North Allegheny, as well as last year’s runner-up Seneca Valley, who also made the state semifinals where he lost to Allegheny of the North.

All four of Seneca Valley’s losses last year came against the Tigers. Other section teammates include Shaler and Butler, who both won playoff games last year, as well as Fox Chapel and North Hills.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

Tags: Pine-Richland

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