Knoch outlasts Allentown Central Catholic to win PIAA Class AAA volleyball title

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Saturday, November 18, 2017 | 5:45 PM


JOHNSTOWN — The Knoch girls volleyball team saw its 2016 season come to an end in the PIAA quarterfinals.

From that loss, the Knights players made it a point to get back to the state tournament and advance further.

Mission accomplished.

On Saturday, Knoch added the PIAA Class AAA championship to its WPIAL title won two weeks ago by outlasting District 11 champion Allentown Central Catholic, 3-2, at Richland High School.

“I'm kind of in a dream world right now. It's unbelievable,” veteran Knights coach Diane Geist said. “It will sink in some day. I am just so proud of the girls.”

The Knights were a part of a WPIAL sweep as Freeport (Class AA) and North Allegheny (Class AAAA) also brought home PIAA gold. The WPIAL had won only three state titles from 2007 to 2016.

“We worked hard all season, and it feels so good to accomplish what we wanted,” sophomore middle hitter Kennedy Christy said.

Allentown Central Catholic came into the match with its sights set on winning back-to-back championships. It ended its season 22-4 overall.

“I am proud of my girls. They gave it everything they had and left it all on the court,” Allentown Central Catholic coach Laurie Corcoran said. “The girls never lost their focus. We wanted another championship, and we came close. Knoch was the better team today.”

The Vikings opened a 4-1 lead in Game 5 and were ahead 10-7 and hoping to close out the match. After a timeout, the Knights answered.

Knoch used a 6-1 run to take the lead. A kill from senior Sarah Armahizer made it 13-11.

Rachel Hess, a middle hitter for Allentown C.C., then delivered a kill of her own to bring the Vikings to within 13-12.

But a kill from sophomore middle Hannah Rowe put the Knights on the cusp. Knoch then blocked an Allentown C.C. hit, and the ball landed back on the Vikettes' side of the court for the match-clinching point.

The celebration began.

“They were down in Game 5 three points, but I had confidence they could do it,” Geist said.

Knoch turned away every challenge this season and finished with a 24-0 record.

The Knights were aware of the pressures of a five-set match in the PIAA playoffs. They turned away the challenge of WPIAL runner-up Montour in the semifinals by rallying after a Game 4 loss.

“We are all just so competitive, and we fought for every point,” Christy said. “It didn't matter what the situation was, we kept fighting.”

Knoch won a close Game 1, 26-24, as Bethany Nulph closed it out with a kill.

Allentown C.C. responded in Game 2 and held leads of 13-6 and 20-10. But the Knights didn't go away and used a 7-1 run to pull within four.

However, the Vikings used the combination of a service ace and two kills to lead 24-17. Knights senior Carly Bozzo made a diving attempt on game point and lifted the ball over the net, but the ball landed out of bounds to give Allentown C.C. the win.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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