VOLLEYBALL: Indians' Cignetti gives verbal committment to IUP
She certainly entertained other promising offers, but when it came down to it, Indiana senior Natalie Cignetti didn’t fret much over verbally committing to play women’s volleyball at IUP next year.
Truth be told, Cignetti, the daughter of IUP football coach Curt Cignetti, moved several times in her youth on account of her father’s quest to coach, and frankly just feels right in choosing to stay in her latest hometown for the next four years.
“It was a little bit of everything,” Cignetti said of her decision Friday to verbally commit to IUP. “Of course my family has always had a special connection to Indiana, and I know this will make my grandparents proud. I have a lot of family and a lot of connections here, so it definitely feels good to know that I’m settling in a place that I have a big family to watch my back.”
Born in Pittsburgh, Natalie moved with her family to North Carolina at the age of 3 in 2000 when her father landed a role as an assistant coach at North Carolina State, in Raleigh, N.C. Seven years later, her father accepted a role as wide receivers coach at Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, Ala..
Then, in January 2011, Curt, the son of Frank Cignetti, the winningest football coach in IUP history, replaced Lou Tepper as IUP’s head coach, a surprising decision that reunited his nuclear family with his extended family.
“It was a huge surprise when we moved back here,” Natalie said. “I didn’t know much about Indiana except that my grandpa had success here coaching. It was nice to move back, but I didn’t expect to go to IUP. I was always saying, ‘I’m going to go as far away from home as possible.’
“But the more I looked into the school and the volleyball program, the more I fell in love with IUP.”
In her senior year, Cignetti, a 5-foot-8 outside hitter, guided the Indians to an unbeaten regular season and their seventh straight section title.
Cignetti also steered her team to the WPIAL Class AA championship match and helped the Indians reach the PIAA playoffs for the second straight season.
A second-team All-WPIAL selection as a junior, Cignetti not only garnered All-WPIAL first-team accolades this year, she was named to the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Finest Forty-Five all-state team.
But despite her long list of accomplishments, Cignetti stayed humble in laying out her goals at IUP.
“My ultimate goal is to really become a better player and a better person,” Cignetti, who plans to major in biology, said. “I have confidence that (Coach) Aline (Scott) will take my game to the next level and get me ready for my future. She disciplines her players to not only become good players but good people, too.”
IUP hired Scott as the sixth head coach in school history prior to the 2013 season. Following an 0-7 start, IUP finished 13-21 in Scott’s first season.