The Ford City Sabers took home the AA Girls Volleyball Championship with their win in five sets over Thomas Jefferson. The win was hard fought as both teams battled to the end and gave it their all. For Ford City it was their first WPIAL Volleyball Championship in school history. Remarkably, it comes in the last year of Ford City’s WPIAL existence. Next year the school is set to merge with Kittanning. Head coach Andrea Lasher was ecstatic as she saw her team win the final set 15-13 to seal the deal and hand TJ it’s first loss.
Thomas Jefferson started out hot winning the first set 25-16 on the strength of some big time hits by Rachel Stover. When the match was over, Rachel had recorded a total of 20 kills on the day. Despite the kills, Ford City was able to stick their plan and maintain the “team” mentality in order to win. They were severely undersized in comparison to their opponent, yet that did not seem to faze them. Justyne Lasher was spectacular for the Sabres. On top of having 12 kills on the day, she was all over the court and stepped up as the team’s leader. Her younger sister Kenzie was excellent as well. The fifteen year old freshman did not let the big stage get to her. The libero never came out of the game and made numerous digs on powerful spikes from TJ.
TJ took set three 25-19 and looked to be close to obtaining the title. Ford City did not see that as the case though. The smaller squad had bigger heart and fought back to win sets four and five. Their backs were against the wall from the start of the match. The #4 seed had to face an unbeaten #2 seed in TJ, but had already overcome #1 Freeport in the semifinals and their confidence carried over into the championship match. Coach Lasker did not have many words to say in our interview after the win as her smile was wide and she looked emotionally exhausted. She did mention how hard her girls had worked toward this when not many people thought they were going anywhere. The Ford city players not only blocked out those rumors, but blocked out a massive Thomas Jefferson crowd that was on hand.
For Thomas Jefferson, their season is not over. They will join Ford City and play for the state title. Both schools have solid teams that will represent the WPIAL with great pride in the state playoffs. This match had ups and downs on both sides. Ford City had 44 unforced errors and Thomas Jefferson had 42. While those numbers are large, they do not dictate some of the tremendous volleys that took place.
The Ford City Sabres are your 2014 WPIAL Girls Volleyball Champions.