Muhlenberg women's volleyball team has learned to 'pile' it on thanks to new assistant coach

Former Emmaus standout Andrew Pile has made an instant impact as an assistant coach at Muhlenberg College.

Andrew Pile knew for a while that he wanted to be a coach.

So as he was winding down his collegiate volleyball career at Limestone College in South Carolina, the 2009 Emmaus High School graduate began looking for a coaching gig.

"I sent out what seemed like 100 emails, applying for every job that was posted," Pile said. "It was actually my old high school at Emmaus, Deb Schlosser, who said Muhlenberg might need an assistant coach in the women's program. So I had a meeting and got the job."

Certainly neither party has any regrets.

With Pile offering his expertise, particularly in the art of blocking, the Mules finished the regular season with a 19-11 mark, and 8-2 in the Centennial Conference, tying the school record for best conference mark.

Muhlenberg will meet McDaniel in a semifinal match on Saturday.

"The transition has been nice," Pile said. "I was a four-year captain at Limestone, so I am used to having a leadership role. This is just a different setting."

Besides his leadership, he has also brought a new passion for blocking to Muhlenberg.

"I think that was one of the main reasons Alexa [Keckler, the Mules head coach] hired me," Pile said. "At Limestone, we had one of the top three blocking teams in the nation and that included the Division I schools. We were behind only BYU and UCF in total blocks.

"Last year, Muhlenberg was either second or third-to-last in blocking. Now we're first. They had all of the elements of being a good blocking team, but they were more worried about other parts of the game. They didn't have any passion for it, but Alexa worked on their individual blocking in the spring which helped. Then when I came in we worked on blocking as a team. Now, they take more pride in it."

Pile, who was an all-Lehigh Valley Conference and all-state player at Emmaus, said that blocking and all-around defense was always a big part of his game.

"That's why I was able to play in college," he said.

As for coaching in college, Pile said he was worried about telling the players, not much younger than him, what to do.

"I refused to let them call me Coach Pile because it just sounded funny, honestly," he said. "But the players have been super receptive to everything I say. We relate more as friends than maybe Alexa would as the head coach, but they still respect me as a coach and that's kind of cool."

Also cool is that Pile is one of 12 recipients of the American Volleyball Coaches Association "Coaches 4 Coaches Scholarship." The scholarship provides the opportunity for up-and-coming volleyball coaches to attend their first AVCA convention, which this year will be held in Seattle next month.

Pile has a great rapport with student assistant coach Christopher Zumberge, who is from Parkland and a former high school rival whom he once tried to recruit to Limestone.

"Chris was an extremely talented player," Pile said. "It's great to be working with him."

He also has high praise for Keckler.

"She has done a great job in turning around the program," he said.

Pile said coaching volleyball is the "perfect scenario" for him and would like to stay at Muhlenberg for at least one more season.





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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