Freeport volleyball ready for rematch with WPIAL champion Beaver
By: Michael Love
Monday, November 13, 2017 | 10:42 PM
As soon as Freeport finished its four-game victory over Corry on Saturday in the PIAA Class AA girls volleyball quarterfinals at Slippery Rock High School, the Yellowjackets players began checking their Twitter feeds for word on the match between Beaver and Serra Catholic.
“As soon as we saw that Beaver won, we were ready,” senior libero Claire Crytzer said. “We had a great practice on Monday. We were focused and all business.”
Beaver and Freeport produced 3-1 victories Saturday and are set to clash at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Seneca Valley with a spot in the state championship match on the line.
It is a match the Yellowjackets have been waiting 10 days for since falling to the Bobcats in a dramatic five-set WPIAL final at Baldwin. The match was so close, the fifth set ended 15-13.
“We didn't like the feeling of losing the last time,” junior opposite-side hitter Ally DeJidas said. “It was back and forth the whole time. It could've gone either way, but Beaver played a really good game. A couple of small things made the difference.”
Tuesday's match is the fourth postseason meeting between the teams since 2015.
Freeport topped Beaver, 3-0, in the 2015 quarterfinals, and the Yellowjackets went on to claim the first of their back-to-back WPIAL titles.
They met in last year's WPIAL finals, and Freeport captured a 3-1 victory.
“Our matches are so highly competitive,” DeJidas said. “We both have that winning attitude. It makes for a great match whenever we play. We should both bring a pretty good crowd. It will be a fun atmosphere.”
Beaver's win Saturday also got it over the hump as it had lost in the state quarterfinals two of the past three seasons.
Both the Bobcats and Yellowjackets were forced to rally after losing the first game in their respective matches.
“No matter how successful we've been this year, we see we can get better,” Crytzer said. “We saw things Saturday we can work on. We took those things into practice Monday.”
No Freeport team in any sport had reached the PIAA semifinals before Freeport punched its ticket Saturday.
“We beat two pretty good teams in Bald Eagle Area and Corry, and we're playing at a pretty high level,” Freeport coach Tom Phillips said. “Tuesday will come down to playing good volleyball like we and Beaver did Saturday.”
Several of the team members also play basketball in the winter. Sophomore back row specialist Tori Radvan is one of them, and she said they are hoping to hold off on the first few days of practice. Winter sports preseason workouts begin Friday, a day before Saturday's potential state title game at Richland High School in Johnstown.
Radvan, who subs in the back row, and fellow sophomore Isabella Russo, a backup middle hitter, got more playing time this season.
“It's been exciting to be able to step in and help this team win,” Radvan said.
“It's a great feeling to be where we are,” Russo said. “We don't want to stop and be satisfied with just making history with the semifinals.”
Phillips said the contributions of Radvan and Russo, as well as fellow sophomore Lauren Lampus in more of a full-time, on-court role at outside hitter, have helped lift the team to the levels it has reached this season. Lampus delivered 12 kills and 22 digs in the victory over Corry.
DeJidas added 12 kills and four blocks, and senior setter Courtney Grubbs contributed 37 assists.
Also leading the way were Crytzer (25 digs, 16 service points), senior Hannah Mason (eight kills, 22 digs) and juniors Sarah Hettich (nine kills, seven blocks) and Haley Graham (seven kills, six blocks).
“We're grateful for another chance to play Beaver,” Crytzer said. “The first match was intense and emotional. It should be the same way (Tuesday).”