Westmoreland Alumni Q&A with JC Govannucci

The former Norwin volleyball standout is now playing at Thiel College

Thu Apr 06, 2023 - 10:07AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers

Last Updated: Thu Apr 06, 2023 - 12:57PM

As the popularity of men’s volleyball continues to grow in the area, Westmoreland County high school standouts have expanding options to continue their athletic career. Former Norwin player JC Govannucci chose that path, as he’s become an instrumental component of Thiel’s squad. Now in his sophomore campaign with the Tomcats, Govannucci is featured in the latest installment of the Westmoreland Alum Q&A.

During Govannucci’s freshman season with Norwin in 2018, the Knights went 12-2 in section play, qualifying for the WPIAL class 3A playoffs. In the postseason, the Knights swept Upper St. Clair, but fell to Butler Area in the quarterfinals.

The following year, Norwin posted an 8-4 mark in section action, again qualifying for the postseason. In the WPIAL Class 3A first round, however, the Knights fell to Pine-Richland 3-1.

The 2020 spring season was cancelled as a result of COVID.

Govannucci returned to the court as a senior the following season, guiding the Knights back to the WPIAL postseason. After sweeping USC in the opening round, Norwin was ousted by North Allegheny in the quarterfinals.

Following his graduation, Govannucci matriculated to Thiel College, joining the Tomcats as an opposite hitter. He immediately thrived as a freshman, as he played in all 28 matches. During that action, he compiled a team-leading 216 kills, along with eight service aces, 83 digs, and 37 blocks. The Tomcats, meanwhile, posted a mark of 10-18 overall, but 9-7 in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC). In the conference tournament, Thiel fell to Penn State Altoona in the first round.

This campaign, the 6-foot-6 sophomore has appeared in 24 matches, amassing 169 kills, 10 aces, 118 digs, and 45 blocks. With just one regular-season match remaining, the Tomcats are 14-12, including 9-3 in the AMCC.

JC dedicated his time to respond to questions about an underrated aspect of his play, his fondest memories at Norwin, and which actor he’d choose to portray himself in a movie.

Q: You led the team in kills last year, and rank near the top again this season. How have you been so effective in that regard?

A: Just being a patient hitter, I take what the defense gives me and make smart plays to give me the best chance of scoring for my team.

Q: What is an underrated aspect of your game?

A: Defense! It’s something I take pride in, as I am not a typical defense player; I enjoy having to adjust, move, and dive for balls.

Q: What was the biggest adjustment from high school volleyball to competing at the college level?

A: Having the ability to scout, which forces you to always improve/change your game, as college coaches will pick up on your tendencies very fast.

Q: What team and individual goals did you set for this season?

A: The team goal we set is to win the AMCC Championship. My individual goal would be to have more digs and blocks than my freshman season.

Q: The PAC recently announced that it will begin to sponsor men's volleyball in the future. What was your reaction to that news?

A: Excited. I have family and friends who want to come watch me play but never can because games are too far away, but with PAC sponsoring, it allows more games to be hosted closer to the Pittsburgh area.

Q: What led to your decision to attend Thiel?

A: The small campus/class size, and Coach Lasher is the ideal coach I can ask for.

Q: What is your major and ideal future profession?

A: Supply chain management. I want to be a college volleyball coach one day!

Q: Aside from volleyball, what has been your favorite aspect of college?

A: For sure it must be the boys and I playing video games and just having a good time.

Q: You attended Norwin High School. What was your fondest memory during your time there?

A: Beating Hempfield my senior year, eliminating them from getting a share of the section championship with Penn-Trafford; also in that same game, Norwin’s student section storming the court because we reversed swept them, as well!

Q: Who was the best player you faced in high school?

A: Coleman McDonough (of Seneca Valley). Anytime I hit, somehow he was right there and passed my hits with ease.

Q: If you could change one rule about college volleyball, what would it be?

A: Net calls. I think if it is a slight touch, it’s fine, but obviously if you run directly into the net or get your hand or elbow stuck, it should be called. The game of volleyball is aggressive, and those slight touches just ruin a whole team’s energy sometimes and are game killers.

Q: Do you have any superstitions or rituals before, during, or after a match?

A: During the game, I must be chewing gum, and more specifically, mint-flavored gum. Also, I must be wearing white Nike socks, as well.

Q: Who would you choose to portray yourself in a movie about your life?

A: Keanu Reeves. We might lose a fight, but never the battle. He’s a guy who likes being the underdog, which is a great representation of me being an athlete coming out of Norwin High School.

Q: What is your favorite vacation spot, or a place you've always wanted to visit?

A: Huntington Beach, California, so I can go play and watch some of the best sand volleyball in the United States.