Franklin Regional takes silver at PIAA Class 3A volleyball finals

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Saturday, November 21, 2020 | 5:43 PM


SILVER SPRING TOWNSHIP — Franklin Regional’s dream season carried all the way to the PIAA Class 3A girls volleyball final, but the bubble burst quickly behind the power of Bethlehem Catholic.

The Golden Hawks earned a 3-0 sweep of the Panthers by game scores of 25-17, 25-21 and 25-17 on Saturday at Cumberland Valley High School.

WPIAL champion Franklin Regional (18-2) had beaten district champions Bellefonte (6) and DuBois (9) in straight sets to reach the championship game.

DePaul recruit Aly Kindelberger was again the big wheel for the Panthers.

“Our big girl in the middle was doing her normal thing, but some of that stress has to come off her and we had very little production on the outside,” Panthers coach Mike Feorene said. “They had four people coming at us, and those four hitters hurt us. We had plenty of film to prepare, and we knew their tendencies, but we got ourselves into a couple of blocking situations that we couldn’t slow down.

“No. 19 (MacKenzy Ruggiero) is a big-time player, and she is a lefty and that creates a different situation.”

Unbeaten Bethlehem Catholic, the District 11 champion, was led by Ruggiero, Joy Wetzel and Jodi Hewitt.

The Hawks took over quickly, and the Panthers struggled to get started. Franklin Regional helped the Hawks with misplays, and the Panthers struggled to recover on the dinks and hits by Bethlehem Catholic’s frontline.

Franklin Regional finally got several sets to Kindelberger, and the Panthers jumped to a 9-6 lead in Game 2. The Hawks rallied to take a 10-9 lead and extended the lead to 23-14, powered by Hewitt, Ruggiero and Wetzel. Ruggiero and Wetzel also were able to double team Kindelberger and block several attempts.

For the Hawks, Ruggiero had 16 kills, and Emma Maskiell had 26 assists. Kyleigh Brown had 25 digs, and Wetzel had six blocks.

Kindelberger got a couple of nice sets and the Panthers rallied to within 23-21 before the Hawks finished out Game 2.

The service game of Kyleigh Brown of Bethlehem Catholic led the Hawks to a 13-4 lead in Game 3. Three aces and a deep service that caught the Panthers in between and the positioning of dinks gave the Panthers fits. Franklin Regional rallied to within 16-11, but another well-positioned dink slowed the rally.

“We have to have everybody firing in a game like this, and we didn’t have that tonight,” Feorene said. “We have had this dream for four years, and we took that journey, but we came up short. We are excited about being here and representing Franklin Regional well, but regrettably someone has to lose.

“Both daughters and my niece started tonight, and it was a family affair. A lot of sacrifice of home and family time, but something I will cherish forever.”

Seniors Ashley and Alexa and freshman niece Brooke took part in the game for Coach Feorene.

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