Chance at WPIAL 3-peat gives Freeport girls volleyball team new goal

Thursday, November 2, 2023 | 11:01 AM

With as dominant as Freeport volleyball has been in recent years, including seven titles since 2010, it may be hard to find areas to make history.

But Saturday, the current group has a chance to do just that.

The Yellowjackets never won three WPIAL titles in a row, which is what they’ll try to achieve when they take on No. 2 Beaver in the Class 2A championship match at 1 p.m. at Peters Township’s AHN Arena.

Senior middle hitter Josie Russo said the prospect of winning three in a row has been discussed, but they keep the chatter to a minimum because some team members are superstitious.

“We all share the common goal of wanting to win WPIALs again this year,” Russo said. “We practice really hard, which we then transfer into games. With the target on our back, we know every game could be our last, so we know we have to come out strong.”

Beaver and Freeport have played some epic matches in the past.

They met in back-to-back WPIAL finals in 2016-17.

Freeport took the first meeting 3-1 to win its second title in a row. A defining moment in the match was the Yellowjackets’ rally from a 24-16 deficit to win the first set 26-24.

Beaver took the 2017 final 3-2 behind a special performance by senior middle hitter Macy McElhaney.

McElhaney had 23 kills, five blocks and a pair of aces. That was the last time Freeport had an opportunity to win three WPIAL titles in a row.

Freeport ended up defeating Beaver, 3-1, in the state semifinals on its way to the program’s first state championship.

The teams also met in the 2019 PIAA quarterfinals, a 3-0 Freeport sweep.

On Saturday, the Yellowjackets expect to get Beaver’s best.

“Realistically, when you’re the No. 1 seed and defending WPIAL champion, you have a target on your back whether you want it or not,” Freeport setter Grace Beach said. “I’m excited to get people’s best. I like to compete, and I’m just looking forward to playing in the WPIAL championship and working for it, because we want to win.”

Outside of a loss to Class 4A semifinalist Seneca Valley, Freeport has swept every team it has faced this season. Freeport’s total of seven titles is tied with Bishop Canevin for fourth-most in WPIAL history.

Though a trip to the WPIAL finals has become commonplace for the Yellowjackets, they don’t take it for granted. They’ll cherish the moment and use their experience to guide them.

“We always set really high expectations for ourselves,” Beach said. “My freshman year, we lost in the first round of the playoffs, and since then, we’ve known that’s not what we want. We’ve worked extremely hard to push ourselves to the top, and we don’t expect anything but that. We’re just going to keep working until we get it.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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