Bump up to 3A can’t stop North Catholic from downing South Fayette for WPIAL volleyball crown

Saturday, November 5, 2022 | 8:56 PM

North Catholic won its fourth WPIAL volleyball title in the last five seasons, and Trojans coach Amanda Fetter has the right receipe for success.

After North Catholic won the first two sets, Fetter and several players were dancing in front of the bench to Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.”

South Fayette prevailed in the third set, but the Trojans came back to post a 3-1 victory Saturday in the Class 3A title game at Robert Morris University’s UPMC Center.

“We try really hard to keep it light,” Fetter said. “This is just a sport. This is supposed to be fun. It’s not work. I don’t want them punching time clocks. We laugh a lot and think that’s honestly one of the keys to us being successful.”

North Catholic (19-1) will now play Latrobe in the opening round of the PIAA tournament Tuesday. There is a chance the Trojans will open on their home floor with an announcement scheduled for Sunday.

South Fayette (13-6) will enter state play Tuesday by heading north to play the winner of Saturday’s District 10 final between Conneaut and Warren.

The Trojans got down to business right away, breaking through eight tied scores in the first set to win 25-22. Then North Catholic finished the second set strong to come out on top, 25-20.

The Lions, seeking their first WPIAL title, took the third set, 25-12.

“We got through a lot to get here,” said South Fayette coach Scott Sundgren. “We’re the No. 7 seed, we go down 2-0 and win, then we had to go to No. 2 seed Hampton and win there, then beat Latrobe and face the No. 1 seed today. They really played their hearts out. I’m proud of my girls.”

North Catholic’s previous titles were in Class 2A. The program was advanced to Class 3A under the PIAA’s biennial realignment.

Once again, Sydnei Jones was a key to the win. The senior setter had eight kills and 34 assists for her part in bringing the third straight WPIAL title to Cranberry Township.

“This is one of the harder championship games I’ve ever played in,” said Jones. “Coming into 3A, everybody kind of underestimated us. But here we are with another championship. The seniors have three WPIAL championships under our belts, and I couldn’t be prouder of ourselves.”

“We kind of got tight there in the middle of our match,” Fetter said. “I had a talk with them and told them just to get back to the basics.”

Even following the third set, Sundgren knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

“We knew we were in for a dogfight,” the Lions coach said. “When you get these close games, you know it will come down to a few touches one way or the other.”

The final set was closely contested with neither team taking more than a four-point lead at any time. After the last of nine stalemates in the final set, 19-19, the Trojans were able to pull away for the 25-22 decision.

Ava Leroux, South Fayette’s 6-foot-3 senior, had 17 kills and Bella Bowers added 13.

Ally Feczko and Ella Koziara had 13 kills each for the Trojans.

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