Tara Hittle doesn't expect anyone to understand her latest decision to resign as the volleyball coach of Doherty High School.

After three winning seasons and a state title, however, the high-energy coach told The Gazette that she has a "strong desire" to coach at the collegiate level, and said her decision to resign was based on her hope to pursue "different opportunities."

On Wednesday, she told her team the news.

"I hate disappointing people. But I knew I had to pursue some different things so I don't wake up one day and wonder why I didn't go for my dreams," said Hittle, who praised the staff at Doherty over and over for its constant support and professionalism. I didn't want to let anyone down, so it was an extremely difficult decision to make. But I had to do it now so I wouldn't leave Doherty in a bad spot.

"For me, it's about keeping options open, and I couldn't decide later and leave all the people I care about at Doherty in a terrible spot. I wanted to make sure they wouldn't be in a horrible situation if I left and would have time to find the next lucky coach to take over."

Hittle, who was a star basketball and volleyball player at Doherty in the early 2000s - winning a title as a player in 2003 - went 67-15 in three seasons at the helm of the volleyball program, leading the Spartans to an undefeated season and Class 5A state title in 2012.

On Thursday, Doherty's athletic director Chris Noll commended Hittle's work, but said he was excited to find the program's next leader.

"We obviously had a lot of good players come through here, but it takes a good coach to have them work well together," said Noll. "Tara did a good job with the players, and we hope we can find someone who is enthusiastic and able to lead our team going forward."

As of Thursday, Noll plans to open up the job "immediately," but said no timetable had been set for finding Hittle's replacement.

This season the Spartans were eliminated in pool play of the state tournament.