Franklin Regional volleyball joins fight against breast cancer with Dig Pink event

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Friday, October 4, 2019 | 6:53 PM


The Franklin Regional girls volleyball players kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Oct. 1 with a Dig Pink fundraiser on their home floor.

The Panthers topped rival Kiski Area, 3-1, to remain undefeated at 9-0 in Section 1-AAA. Franklin Regional was ranked No. 5 in Class AAA in the most recent Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association poll.

“This is a special group of girls,” coach Mike Feorene said. “Many of them experienced the pain of going 0-10 two years ago, a taste that never leaves you.

“They have learned how to play through adversity. They experienced success last year and now know what it takes to win. The ingredients are all there. They have been underdogs up to this point. They know there is a target on their backs and everyone is going to give us their best game. I also get to coach my own daughters. That is something I truly enjoy and never take that for granted. All of these players are dedicated to a great game.”

The big happening of the night was the 11th annual Dig Pink event held prior to and during the Panthers’ section victory.

A group of FR volleyball booster volunteers, led by Pam Toto, helped in planning and organizing the event alongside the FR players, including members of the freshman team.

Dig Pink is now a long-standing tradition for the FR volleyball program,” Toto said, “so it really is a team effort by the girls. They’ve assisted in procuring donations, making signs and providing baked goods for concessions.

“The primary goals every year are to raise awareness about the need for breast cancer research and to raise funds toward that effort. Our donation will go to the The Side-Out Foundation, which sponsors research specific for stage four breast cancer, an underfunded area of breast cancer research.

“It’s a fun night and a great cause. Dig Pink provides the team with an opportunity to think about the world beyond volleyball.”

FR and Kiski Area players were in pink gear for the match. Spectators were encouraged to don a pink item as well. Franklin Regional’s freshman squad served as volunteers. The evening included a basket auction, concessions and a chance to win Steelers tickets.

Toto called the event “a total success.”

“Dig Pink is run by our boosters, specifically Pam Toto, and it takes a ton of work, but she put together a great event,” said Feorene, a third-grade math and science teacher in the Norwin School District. “What a great cause and community support at its finest. All the girls work hard to make it work.”

Toto lauded the assistance provided by the parents of the players.

“I have had the good fortune of working with a team of volunteer parents,” she said, “including Bethany Ruane and Suzanne Spears.”

The FR-Kiski Area match was tightly contested. FR ended up winning in four sets, 25-18, 23-25, 28-26, 25-23.

“Kiski joined us for this event,” Feorene said. “On the court, we are section rivals. Off the court, there are two groups of young ladies who dedicate themselves not only to the game of volleyball but to the commitment to make our world a better place.”

Franklin Regional improved to 10-1 overall with the win against the Cavaliers. FR also took first place at its own 12-team invitational tournament earlier in the year.

Feorene, who is assisted by Emily Wetzler and Mike Larko, said expectations were soaring coming into the season.

The Panthers ended up 10-4 last year as a WPIAL playoff qualifer. As the No. 11 seed, FR upset No. 5 Laurel Highlands, 3-1, then lost a 3-2 decision to No. 3 Thomas Jefferson.

FR’s starting rotation in 2019 consists of middle hitters Hannah Flick and Aly Kindelberger, setters Elizabeth Sarneso and Piper Toto, defensive specialists Kara Soles and Sydney Breitkreutz, right-side hitters Renee Baldy and Ashley Feorene and libero Alexa Feorene.

Flick, Sarneso, Toto, Soles and Baldy are seniors. Kindelberger, a Division I recruit and returning all-WPIAL selection who at 6-foot-2 is the tallest player on the squad, and the Feorene twins are juniors. Breitkreutz is a sophomore.

Flick has recovered from an ACL tear suffered last season. Ashley Feorene was a serving specialist who has moved to the right-side hitter position as a lefty.

“A gift for any coach,” her father said.

“Our section is tough and anyone can beat any team on any given night,” Feorene said. “But my expectations coming into the season were high. We returned eight players who had partial to significant playing time.

“We pass very well, our middles are powerful, we serve extremely well, and our defense is relentless. We have two setters who can run our system very well.”

Other FR players who helped in putting together the Dig Out event include seniors Mia Jaffe (OH), Kelsie Lesher (RS) and Clairissa McCormick (RS); along with juniors Meagan Crawford (DS), Nicole Currens (OH), Emily Ejzak, (DS) Paige Klinger (DS) and Ella Spears (OH).

The sophomore class is represented by Breitkreutz, Deanna Perry (MH), Juliana DiVincenzo (S/RS), Julia Janetto (OH), Alisa Kane (DS), Julia Kubera (S/RS), Kamryn Marcus (OH) and Delaney Pipon (DS).

Ella Evans and Reilyn Ruane are top freshman middle hitter prospects for the Panthers, who currently are the verge of winning their first section title in girls volleyball in school history.

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