Freeport volleyball sweeps Beaver, moves into PIAA semifinals

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Saturday, November 9, 2019 | 8:02 PM


The Freeport girls volleyball team is returning to a familiar place.

The Yellowjackets fired on all cylinders Saturday in a 3-0 sweep of Beaver in a PIAA Class AA quarterfinal at Shaler, and they will play in the state semifinals for the third year in a row.

“We always talk about focusing on the game right in front of us, and we were able to do that again today,” said senior middle hitter Isabella Russo, who finished with eight kills. “I didn’t expect to (sweep) them. Beaver is such a good team. We jumped on them quickly, and I think we got in their heads a little bit, and that helped a lot.”

The WPIAL champion Yellowjackets (20-0) will face North Catholic in a rematch of the teams’ five-set WPIAL final matchup. The Trojanettes punched their ticket to the semifinals with a 3-1 win Saturday over defending state champion Bald Eagle Area.

“Moving along, that’s what we’re all about right now,” Freeport coach Tom Phillips said.

Freeport took Game 1 25-17 score, followed it with a 25-14 victory in Game 2 and held off a furious Beaver rally in Game 3 to post a 25-19 win.

Beaver, the No. 4 team from the WPIAL, saw its season conclude at 17-3.

“We came out aggressive, and we weren’t going to let anything slip away,” Phillips said.

With their backs against the wall, the Bobcats played Freeport even through the first 12 points of Game 3, and a Lauren Sullivan kill tied the score 6-6. But Freeport took the lead on a kill from senior Mackensey Jack, and it opened a nine-point advantage at 21-12.

Beaver answered with a 7-0 run — sparked by a kill from Payton List and two aces from Talia Gallagher — to close to within 21-19. But a pair of kills from Jack, a tap kill from Maddie Clark and a Bobcats two-hits violation capped the game and the match for the Yellowjackets.

“Sometimes, when you’re up 2-0, you have a tendency to rock back a little bit, and you don’t normally play overly aggressive,” Phillips said. “We kind of went into a neutral mode. I just wanted them to settle down.”

Freeport opened an 11-2 lead in Game 1 thanks to a 9-0 run punctuated by an ace from Maddie Clark. Russo and seniors Lauren Lampus and Tori Radvan provided kills during the run, and the Yellowjackets took advantage of Beaver attack and defensive errors. The Bobcats tried to rally and got the deficit to as close as 22-16, but Freeport answered the challenge.

Kills from senior Samantha Clark, Jack and Radvan got the Yellowjackets to the brink of victory, and a Beaver block attempt that landed out of bounds ended the game in Freeport’s favor.

Freeport kept the pressure on in Game 2, and a kill from Radvan and a Beaver hitting error put the Yellowjackets ahead 13-4.

Beaver got as close as six twice over the remainder of the game, but, again, Freeport wouldn’t allow the Bobcats any added momentum. Kills from Lampus and Jack, a net violation and a hit out of bounds put the score at 24-14. A hit from Lampus not returned by the Bobcats defense ended the game.

“It was a total team effort today,” Phillips said. “The thing we talk about is not just being a one-dimensional team but being able to come at you from all different angles.”

Maddie Clark finished with 35 assists, 13 digs and nine service points. Jack and Radvan led the way with 11 and 10 kills, respectively, Lauren Lampus produced eight kills and 11 service points, and sophomore libero Erica Lampus had 13 digs.

“All in all, I couldn’t be prouder of these kids,” Phillips said. “They’ve worked hard and persevered all year long. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: It’s going to take a damn good team to beat them. When we’re on our game and are playing crisp and aggressive, we can be very dynamic.”

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

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