Aly Kindelberger, Franklin Regional shut down No. 1 Beaver in Class 3A volleyball semifinals

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 | 9:22 PM

Franklin Regional showed up to Beaver High School with plenty of passion Wednesday night and knocked off previously unbeaten and top-seeded Beaver to advance to the WPIAL Class 3A girls volleyball championship.

“Passion, defensive prowess and Aly Kindelberger took away their offense completely,” Franklin Regional coach Mike Feorene said. “They simply played with passion, and sometimes that’s the key. Motivation, attitude and our defense.”

All three sets were tightly contested until the end, but in each set, fourth-seeded Franklin Regional (15-2) prevailed, winning the match 25-23, 25-21 and 27-25.

“This is a great volleyball team in Beaver,” Feorene said. “They’ve got skilled players at four or five positions, but tonight was one of those nights where our girls came to play and had the offense and defense to do it.”

Kindelberger, a DePaul commit, registered an unofficial total of 17 kills, a half-dozen blocks and gave Beaver (16-1) fits all evening long.

“Their middle blocker shut down one of our best hitters, and it just wasn’t our night tonight,” Beaver coach Tyler Szymanski said. “Franklin Regional is a great team, and we had a bad night. I don’t know that we’ve seen a blocker or hitter like that one. Payton (List) is an absolute monster when she hits the ball, and that girl matched up right with her and she shut us down blocking.”

Beaver, which had lost just one set all season, jumped out to an early 8-4 advantage in the first set. However, a five-point Panther run put Franklin Regional up 10-8 and neither team led by more than three points the rest of the set.

After back-to-back blocks by Payton and Chloe List put Beaver ahead 21-20, Franklin Regional reeled off four straight points, including a second-hit kill by Ashley Feorene and a top by Kindelberger. Following a pair of Beaver errors, Kindelberger clinched the first set at 25-23 with a kill.

“This game is all about momentum,” Feorene said. “Once you bring that momentum into your court, the girls go off of that. They just kept bringing it at (Beaver).”

The second set saw Franklin Regional score five of the first six points and hold an early 10-4 advantage. However, Beaver battled back and tied the set at 20. Kindelberger took charge with three blocks and two additional kills to account for each of Franklin Regional’s final five points as the Panthers took the set 25-21.

The third set saw Beaver build an 18-12 advantage with its season on the line. Kindelberger and senior Alexa Feorene keyed a 9-2 Franklin Regional spurt to put the Panthers ahead 21-19.

Following a Beaver timeout, Eden McElhaney and Talia Gallagher posted kills on three straight points for the Bobcats. However, it was Franklin Regional’s night as sophomore Ella Evans smacked kills on three of Franklin Regional’s final four points, as the Panthers overcame a 24-22 deficit to take the final set, 27-25.

The Panthers advance to Saturday’s Class 3A title game against third-seeded Montour at Chartiers Valley. The Panthers defeated the Spartans in the first round of last year’s 3A bracket.

“It’s playoffs and there are two very talented teams,” Feorene said. “We’re going to work hard in the next three days and prepare just like we do every other day and walk on to that court ready to go.”

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