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Championship feeling

Seneca Valley graduate Coleman McDonough was a freshman on UCLA’s national championship volleyball team this season. Submitted Photo
SV graduate McDonough part of UCLA’s national title volleyball team

LOS ANGELES — Winning never gets old for Seneca Valley graduate Coleman McDonough.

In 2021, his Vanguard travel volleyball team won the SoCal Cup National Showcase.

In 2022, he was part of the Raiders’ WPIAL Class 3A championship team that wound up as state runner up.

Now a freshman at UCLA, McDonough was a member of the Bruins’ volleyball team that captured the NCAA championship last weekend. UCLA defeated two-time defending champion Hawaii, 3-1, in the title game at George Mason University in Virguinia.

“I feel extremely fortunate,” McDonough said. “My parents (Jim and Karen McDonough), I have tro credit them. They sacrificed a lot of time and effort to help get me in this position.”

UCLA finished 31-2 this season in winning its first national volleyball title since 2006. It was the 20th title in the program’s history. The Bruins’ lone losses this season were road matches at Penn State and Hawaii. They avenged the loss to the Rainbows with the 28-26, 31-33, 25-21, 25-22 victory in the national title match.

Seneca Valley graduate Coleman McDonough serves the ball during a UCLA volleyball match this season. Submitted Photo

A defensive specialist, McDonough saw limited playing time this season, seeing action in 11 matches. The Bruins starting libero was fifth-year senior Troy Gooch, who was an honorable mention All-American.

“An incredible player,” McDonough said. “I’ve learned so much from him and he always makes himself available to me. Troy is the only starter we’re losing from this team and I’m hoping to take over that spot next year and help us win another title.

“This is UCLA. They’re going to bring in more highly touted, talented players. It’s up to me to win the job.”

UCLA prevented Hawaii from a three-peat, leaving the Bruins as the lone Division 1 men’s volleyball program to ever win three consecutive national championships. The Bruins were ranked No. 1 in the nation, Hawaii (29-3)No. 2.

“It was important to us to prevent Hawaii from doing what our program did,” Coleman admitted.

Vanguard’s volleyball team is in Columbus, Ohio. McDonough’s parents made the three-hour drive every Friday to get him there.

“We think back to those days, all that running around, but it was worth it to watch Coleman be part of a national championship run like this,” Mrs. McDonough said. “He got on the court for a little bit in that title game. It was such a special moment for us to see that.”

McDonough was part of a four-point run in the Bruins’ 25-16, 25-14, 25-19 national semifinal win over Long Beach State. UCLA closed the season with a 12-match winning streak, losing just four sets during that stretch.

McDonough credited playing for Vanguard as the prime reason he was able to get to UCLA.

“That’s a national-caliber program and I got a lot of exposure from that,” he said. “Playing for a state championship caliber team in Seneca Valley didn’t hurt, either.”

A business major, McDonough said he opted for UCLA for academic and athletic reasons.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” he said. “UCLA is a fantastic educational institution. The volleyball coach, John Speraw, is the U.S. Olympic coach. Nobody knows more about the game than he does.

Speraw had won three NCAA volleyball crowns with California-Irvine. This year’s title was his first with UCLA.

“It was a tremendous feeling, being part of that experience,” McDonough said. “My goal when I came here was to win four national championships. That goal is still intact.”

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