Linda Renzi concluded her tenure at Pitt-Johnstown by earning West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) Coach of the Year honors in women’s volleyball on Wednesday.
In her ninth season as UPJ’s head coach, Renzi led a team picked by the coaches to finish ninth in the conference to a
10-4 WVIAC mark and berth in the postseason tournament.
Renzi confirmed Wednesday she will step down as the women’s volleyball coach at UPJ as the program ends its stay in the WVIAC in preparation for a move to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) next academic year.
“She’s coached her team well. She has a few established players in the lineup but really her team had success with a lot of younger kids in there too,” said Brent Hager, WVIAC associate commissioner after Wednesday’s award winners were named in volleyball. “It was pretty decisive with her being picked as coach of the year.”
The conference’s coaches voted on the honor.
“I started with this conference and I really wanted to finish it in this conference,” Renzi said. “This made for such a surprise and a great ending.”
UPJ went 18-8 overall this season and advanced to the WVIAC Tournament before falling in the first round. UPJ junior Beth Kendera, a 6-foot-1 middle blocker from Conemaugh Valley, earned second-team all-WVIAC honors, and Lady Cats sophomore outside hitter Kelsey Shanabrook was an honorable mention pick.
Windber graduate Corrine Gahagen, a 6-1 sophomore middle blocker at Seton Hill University, was a first-team all-WVIAC selection.
Renzi will leave UPJ with a 136-119 career record.
“UPJ has always been consistent and thrived under Linda’s coaching.” Hagen said.
This is the first time UPJ has had a WVIAC coach of the year in volleyball. UPJ’s Bob Rukavina was WVIAC men’s basketball coach of the year in 2007-08.
“It’s an outstanding honor,” Renzi said. “Without a doubt I was greatly surprised in receiving this honor. It’s one of the great experiences that I’ve had.”
Renzi has had plenty of positive experiences. In 30 years at Richland High School, her girls volleyball teams won seven state championships and finished as state runner-up five times. The Rams won 25 District 6 crowns and 28 league or conference titles. Her Richland boys volleyball squads won seven district titles. Renzi also had success as Richland’s girls basketball coach.
The Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame inducted Renzi in 1995. Seven years later, the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame inducted her.
She joined former UPJ women’s volleyball coach Clyde Horner as an assistant in 2002 and moved into the interim head coach position in 2004 before officially taking the job in 2005.
“The coaches at UPJ are wonderful to work with,” Renzi said. “The coaches all work so well together, and a lot of that comes from Pat Pecora being the athletic director.
“I’m so proud of the volleyball teams at Pitt-Johnstown as athletes and as the top academic team on campus,” Renzi added. “(UPJ President) Dr. Jem Spectar has shown great interest and leadership in making Pitt-Johnstown sports a priority, and academics and athletics.”
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