Franklin Regional tops Montour for 1st WPIAL girls volleyball championship
Saturday, November 7, 2020 | 4:41 PM
Aly Kindelberger hammered the volleyball onto the court Saturday at Chartiers Valley High School before being overwhelmed by a swarm of her teammates.
The 6-foot-1 Franklin Regional senior didn’t mind the slide across the floor as the Panthers’ celebrated the biggest win in program history with a dogpile.
By topping Montour 3-2 (25-8, 24-26, 25-18, 23-25, 17-15), Franklin Regional won the WPIAL Class 3A title in its first trip to the final. The journey to the crown wasn’t one Kindelberger, who had a match-high 24 kills, anticipated making.
As a freshman, Kindelberger was part of a Franklin Regional squad that went 0-12 in section.
“For me, personally and all the other seniors, we came in and our freshman year, we didn’t win a single section match,” said Kindeberger, who is a DePaul commit. “To start there and come here is a dream come true, I didn’t think we’d be here.”
Fourth-seeded Franklin Regional (16-2) was unable to bring its full squad. Sophomore Ella Evans missed the match because of covid-19 precautions.
“My No. 2 player on my team is sitting at home right now due to covid-19,” Franklin Regional coach Mike Feorene said. “The situation we got ourselves into was having two rotations that had to dig our way out based on some youth in there. … We came into the right rotation at the right time, especially in the final 15.”
Missing Evans left the Panthers feeling out a new rotation that resulted in some tense moments. Franklin Regional built a 12-7 lead in the fifth set, only to see it fade when Kindelberger went to the bench as part of the rotation.
The third-seeded Spartans (14-1) rallied and earned an opportunity at a match point when a killy by Amber Collins put Montour ahead 14-13.
Kindelberger would break open a tie at 15 points with two kills that gave Franklin Regional the match.
“When Aly was in the back row, we had to score a lot of points,” Montour coach Mike Marchionda said. “When she was in the front row, we had to contain her and we weren’t able to do that. She was the best player we’ve seen all year, and she came out and showed it.’
Franklin Regional cruised in the first set, building a 7-0 lead behind the serving of Sydney Breitkreutz, who delivered two aces during the run.
“I think our serving was amazing through the whole game,” Kindelberger said. “Sometimes that’s a real struggle for us. If our serving isn’t on, we struggle. Today, our serving was on. It was awesome.”
Alex Liese led Montour with 11 kills, while Collins added nine.
The Spartans never stopped battling Franklin Regional. Montour rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second set to win. The Panthers hitting, which had been solid at the start, committing 17 attack errors in the second set.
Franklin Regional also conceded a 3-0 and 12-7 lead in the fifth set, but they never lost focus and will be moving on to the PIAA playoffs. The Panthers will play either the District 5 or 6 champion in the PIAA quarterfinals next Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
“The end goal is what we had to focus on,” Breitkreutz said. “We’ve been working so hard all summer. We’ve been playing together since sixth or seventh grade. This was always our ultimate dream, keeping our mind and persevering through the differences.”
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