Freeport volleyball shakes off ‘WPIAL hangover,’ cruises in first-round PIAA match
Tuesday, November 5, 2019 | 7:51 PM
After having to come back from two-set deficits to win in the WPIAL semifinals and finals last week,the Freeport girls volleyball team had a much less stressful opening to the state playoffs.
Behind a balanced attack, the Yellowjackets cruised to a 3-0 sweep of District 9 champion Brookville in the first round of the PIAA Class AA tournament Tuesday at Shaler.
Freeport won 25-12, 25-15, 25-17 and found the right formula to cure the emotional toll of winning a district championship that Yellowjackets coach Tom Phillips calls the “WPIAL hangover.”
“It was a different style of volleyball tonight,” Phillips said. “You come off such an emotional high from playing North Catholic in the WPIAL final. Obviously that was an emotional time and in a game like tonight, you have to find good things you did and build off of them. I don’t think we played razor sharp tonight, but at the same time, I didn’t think we played bad.”
The Yellowjackets advance to play Beaver, the fourth-place team out of the WPIAL that defeated District 5 champion North Star in four games Tuesday night, in the PIAA quarterfinals Saturday at a site and time to be announced.
Freeport got contributions from throughout the lineup. Mackensey Jack had eight kills, four blocks and an ace. Tori Radvan had nine kills, all coming in the first two sets. Isabella Russo also had nine kills. Lauren Lampus had six kills and Madeline Clark had five kills.
Freeport came off hard-fought 3-2 victories over Avonworth in the WPIAL semifinals on Thursday and North Catholic in the finals on Saturday, but controlled the Brookville match from start to finish.
Brookville (17-4) took the first point of the match on a service error, but Freeport (17-0) never trailed again.
The Yellowjackets took a 3-2 lead early in the first set and didn’t look back. They had a 5-0 run in the middle of the set to take a 10-4 lead and scored 15 of the last 18 points. Lampus had a kill to end the set.
Freeport showed off its depth in the first. Radvan had five kills, Jack had four blocks and Russo had four kills.
“We knew we had to get off to a good start, because in states you always want to get that first set,” Radvan said. “If you lose the first set in states, you never know what could happen. We didn’t want to go down 0-2 like we did in the WPIALs. We needed to start off strong and keep going.”
In the second, Freeport never trailed en route to a 25-12 victory. Jack and Russo were effective in the middle in the second set with strong net play, forcing Brookville to make several hitting errors. Russo had three kills and one block in the second and Jack added two kills and two blocks.
“I thought Isabella and Mac did a great job in the middle,” Phillips said. “I felt like we exploited the areas we needed to exploit. We’ll just go from here and keep moving forward.”
Freeport raced out to a 7-4 lead in the third, but Brookville cut the lead 9-8 on a Maggie Mackins block. The Yellowjackets responded with a 4-0 run with a pair of kills by Jack, a kill by Russo and a hitting error. From there, Brookville never got within three points again and Lampus finished the match with a careening kill off of two Brookville players.
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer