Ali Celentano leads volleyball offensive

Sophomore right side hitter Ali Celentano currently leads the volleyball team with a total of 218 kills and an average of 3.03 kills per game. She also has the highest hitting percentage on the team with .278.

Her success on the court began when she was a freshman in high school.

“There was a new high school [volleyball] team, so I decided I was just going to try out even though I’d never played before,” Celentano said. “People said, ‘You’re tall so you should try to play volleyball.’ So I did, and the high school coach convinced me to play club, and then from there I just fell in love with it.”

Her passion for volleyball is evident on the court. Sometimes she arrives early to practice to set up the nets and get in extra repetitions. Head coach Kim Kelly acknowledges and appreciates Celentano’s work ethic.

“She works hard,” Kelly said. “Any time she feels like she has to improve on something, she’s asked me to come in early, she’s asked me to stay late. She wants to be the best that she can possibly be, and I love that.”

Celentano also brings a positive attitude to the team, and Kelly believes a positive outlook is essential to overcoming obstacles in the sport.
“She always has a smile no matter what,” Kelly said. “Ali is very positive out there. That helps a lot, because if we have a player who is down on herself, she looks to Ali and sees that smile to bring her up.”

Junior setter Emily Wright also notices Celentano’s incredible presence on the court and positive influence on the team.
“Ali’s biggest strength is definitely her attitude,” Wright said. “She brings everyone up with her and is always a positive inspiration. She’s a hard worker; she never complains and always has a good attitude. Most importantly, I know she will always get a good hit off of whatever set I give her. She’s a very adaptable player.”

Although Celentano does not lead her teammates vocally, she leads by example. She knows what her role is on the team and tries to always execute it well.

“I’m not a big speaker or talker,” Celentano said. “I try to lead the team by getting that kill when we need it. I don’t often have the right thing to say, so I just do what needs to be done.”

Celentano was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference South Volleyball Athlete of the Week after her performance in the Carnegie Mellon Invitational, which took place Sept. 14-15. During that weekend, Celentano hit .875 against the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and collected 17 kills against Elmira College.

“She just had a fantastic week,” Kelly said. “She was picked out of hundreds of volleyball players to get that honor. She deserved it, there’s no doubt about it. She worked her tail off that week.”

She will be looked at to lead on offense as the Tartans continue UAA Round Robin play next weekend.

Celentano excels both on and off the court. She is majoring in business administration, but she is working toward becoming a doctor someday.

“She is such a determined young woman,” Kelly said. “She is going to be very successful in whatever she decides to do.”