JOHNSTOWN — Freeport knew all about having to rally in the PIAA playoffs.
The Yellowjackets lost the first game against District 10 champion Corry in the Class AA girls volleyball quarterfinals but won the next three to take the match.
The first game in Saturday's PIAA Class AA championship match went against Freeport, as Delone Catholic won a close one, 25-23.
But the Yellowjackets called on their experience in big matches and took the next three games to claim the championship.
“This is such an amazing feeling,” junior outside hitter Ally DeJidas said. “We worked so hard for this.”
DeJidas had the final point of the match on her hand, and she delivered a kill to finish off Game 4, 25-22, and the match, 3-1.
“I knew I had to put it down for my team,” DeJidas said.
The Yellowjackets (25-3) came back from a five-set loss to Beaver in the WPIAL title game and won four consecutive matches against four district champions — Bald Eagle Area (District 6), Corry (District 10), Beaver (WPIAL) and Delone (District 3).
“We came back with so much motivation after the WPIAL title game,” DeJidas said.
Delone Catholic came into the match seeking its first PIAA title since capturing back-to-back crowns in 2012 and 2013.
Freeport led throughout Game 4, building leads of 7-4 and 17-13.
The Yellowjackets were up 24-20, and junior middle hitter Sarah Hettich appeared to have ended it with a kill, which prompted a mob scene by Freeport players on their side of the court.
But the floor official at the net called Hettich for a net violation, and the Delone point made it 24-21.
“I looked up and saw the ref called the net violation, and I was like, ‘Oh, crap.' But we knew we had to regroup,” senior setter Courtney Grubbs said.
The Squires then closed to within two on a block. But the Yellowjackets responded, and DeJidas capped the championship run.
“We were able to refocus and get that final point,” Grubbs said. “It's such an amazing feeling. We've worked so hard for this.”
The win marks the first PIAA championship for any Freeport team.
“We just tried to make it like just another (match) even though a lot was on the line,” junior middle hitter Haley Graham said. “We just had to play Freeport volleyball.”
The Yellowjackets had made the state volleyball quarterfinals four times since 2010 but were not able to advance further.
“I could not be prouder of these girls,” Freeport coach Tom Phillips said. “They all worked so hard and dedicated themselves to this program and to winning a title like this.”
Freeport fell behind 5-1 and 8-3 in Game 1, but the Yellowjackets rallied with a 9-2 run to take a 12-10 lead.
The game went back and forth with several times, but Delone took charge late.
“It took a little while to get our feet under us,” Phillips said. “Then we started to play a little more aggressively, and it worked out well for us.”
The Yellowjackets roared back in Game 2 with a 25-9 victory. They opened a 6-1 lead, and it could've been 7-0 if not for a questionable call on a kill attempt by DeJidas.
DeJidas finished the game with seven kills — she had a team-high 20 for the match — and Tori Radvan and Haley Graham extended for two key defensive saves to help preserve the triumph.
Freeport maintained its momentum in the pivotal Game 3 and jumped out to leads of 8-4 and 16-10.
A kill from senior libero Claire Crytzer and a block for a point by Grubbs gave Freeport a 24-20 lead before Delone rallied again to 24-23.
Delone senior outside hitter Autumn Altland then hoped to tie the game, but the ball on her swing and kill attempt landed out of bounds.
Grubbs led Freeport with 34 kill assists, and Crytzer had a team-best 30 digs. Hettich fronted the Yellowjackets with six blocks, and Graham and DeJidas recorded six blocks apiece.
“It was just a total team effort again from these girls,” Phillips said. “They don't play the game any other way. I am just so happy for them.”