Freeport girls volleyball team sweeps into state quarterfinals

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022 | 8:42 PM


The Freeport girls volleyball team celebrated what likely was its final home game of the season in dominant fashion.

The WPIAL champion Yellowjackets swept past District 10 runner-up Corry on Tuesday in a PIAA Class 2A first-round match at Freeport Middle School.

“I loved having that one more game at home and running out to our warm-up playlist,” senior middle hitter Hadley Hellgren said. “It was such a great atmosphere, and it really pumped us up. We love to establish our hitters, and it was great to have that energy to do that. It’s so exciting to know we’re moving on.”

Freeport was able to turn the focus to the state tournament after Saturday’s win over Shenango. The Yellowjackets scored a 25-10 win in the first set, withstood a Corry challenge to win Set 2, 25-19, and finished off the match 25-12.

“The girls came out pretty aggressive tonight,” Freeport coach Tom Phillips said. “I don’t think the WPIAL championship match was one of our better games. We were kind of stagnant a little bit. But the things we worked on (Monday) in practice, being in system and being aggressive the whole way through, we saw that.

“Corry keeps the ball off the floor, and they are very aggressive. They don’t have a lot of size, so we wanted to make sure that we were able to run our middles tonight. Our middles were going to be able to dictate how the game was going to be played.”

Junior outside hitter Sydney Selker delivered an emphatic kill at match point in the third set. Freeport built leads of 6-1, 9-3 and 13-4 in the first half of the final set and didn’t let Corry get back into it.

“That was quite the exclamation point at the end,” Phillips said.

Freeport advances to the quarterfinals, where it will take on WPIAL No. 4 Quaker Valley on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.

The Quakers rallied from a 2-1 deficit against District 9 champion Kane on Tuesday to score a 3-2 victory at Kane High School.

“At this point in the game, everybody that you face is going to be good,” Phillips said. “When you get to the state playoffs, you’ve got to play it one game at a time. It’s something that I preach over and over again. We don’t look anywhere but the next game. That’s where we’re at right now.”

Freeport jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead in the first set on a combination of four Corry hitting errors and a pair of kills from senior Cassidy Dell.

Additional hitting from Dell, Selker, junior Josie Russo and sophomore Alaina Whitlinger and more unforced errors from the Beavers allowed the Yellowjackets to lead 22-9 and force Corry to call a timeout to regroup.

A hit from Selker made it 24-10, and a Corry net violation at set point gave Freeport the opening win.

“We practiced super hard that past however many days, and (coach Phillips) wasn’t happy with our performance (in the WPIAL title game) and neither were we,” Selker said. “We wanted to start out strong in the first round of states. We all just stayed super focused, and we really wanted this first win.”

Corry didn’t wilt under the pressure of being down a set and came out strong with the lead in Set 2. Freeport gained the lead for the first time at 7-6 on a hit from Hellgren.

The Yellowjackets extended their lead to as many as six at 20-14 on a kill from sophomore Leah Schrecengost and didn’t let the Beavers get any closer than three the rest of the way.

Freeport finished off the set at 25-19 with a kill from Dell, a Russo block and a kill from Selker.

“At a high level, this game is about mental toughness and hitting your best shot and getting it dug and then hitting your next best shot and getting it dug,” Corry coach Kelly Goodsel.

“The first set we didn’t pass well. The second set we played pretty well, like we are capable of playing. The third set we kind of mentally broke down. Freeport kept digging the balls and making that last-second play. We have a bunch of sophomores, and it comes down to having that mental maturity to stay in the game and fight for every point and keep swinging and swinging. Freeport is just such a great team. Tom is such a great coach.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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