Freeport volleyball team fends off North Catholic to advance
By: Michael Love
Saturday, November 10, 2018 | 9:00 PM
The Freeport girls volleyball team has been in many high-pressure situations the past several years.
So the importance of staying composed through the ups and downs of a win-or-go-home match was not lost on the Yellowjackets players as they battled WPIAL champion North Catholic on Saturday afternoon in a PIAA Class AA quarterfinal at North Allegheny.
Freeport weathered a pair of Trojans rallies in the match and claimed the deciding Game 5 for a 3-2 victory.
“We were calm and composed the whole way through, even when we were down,” junior outside hitter Lauren Lampus said. “We came back fighting each time.”
Lampus delivered the final hit of the match, which deflected off the arm of a North Catholic defender and secured a 15-12 win.
It was the first time this season North Catholic had lost two games in a match.
“I can’t say enough about these girls,” Freeport coach Tom Phillips said. “We’ve been bitten with the injury bug, and we’ve been battling and battling and working on different things. They’ve stayed the course, and that’s the big thing.”
Freeport scored a 25-19 victory in Game 1 but saw North Catholic rebound for a 25-16 win in Game 2.
The Yellowjackets put themselves on the cusp of a match triumph as they took Game 3 by a 25-15 score, but the Trojans answered the bell again and forced a final game with a 25-19 win in Game 4.
“It was a really good match between two really good teams,” North Catholic coach Amanda Fetter said.
Freeport led North Catholic, 5-0, in the final game but saw the Trojans come back to tie the score 5-5 with kills from Libby Palmer and Dominique Felix.
The teams also were tied 6-6 and 7-7 before the Yellowjackets grabbed an 8-7 lead.
A block and finish at the net from returning senior middle hitter Sarah Hettich gave Freeport its largest lead of the game at 12-8. Hettich had been out of action since suffering a right foot injury in the match with Knoch on Oct. 10.
A North Catholic serve into the net and a kill from Isabella Russo moved the Yellowjackets closer and set up the Lampus hit at match point.
“We talked (in the huddle before Game 5) about keep things together and not getting too helter skelter,” Lampus said. “Everyone just needed to keep doing their job, and that’s what we did. That last point felt so good. We all felt relieved. I was like, ‘We finished this. We’re good. Now let’s go to practice.’ ”
Freeport (18-3) advances to the state semifinals Tuesday evening and will take on District 6 champion Bald Eagle Area, a 3-0 winner over District 10 champion Corry on Saturday.
The Yellowjackets began their PIAA journey last year with a first-round sweep of the Eagles.
“I think the big thing (against North Catholic) was we were aggressive serving, and we kept the ball off the floor,” Phillips said. “We figured out their big hitters and were able to slow the ball down a little bit at the net. We were able to dig some balls from their big hitters. (Freshman libero Erica Lampus) was everywhere. I definitely think it was the best defensively we’ve played all year.”
Phillips said he was impressed with the spread-out contributions from all of his players.
Lauren Lampus had a team-best 16 kills and 18 service points. Ally DeJidas added 13 kills, Maddie Clark provided 50 assists and 15 service points, Erica Lampus tallied 18 digs and 13 service points and Mackensey Jack had 15 service points and nine kills.
Russo recorded nine blocks and nine kills, and Hettich finished with eight blocks.
“It was a great win for us against a great team,” Phillips said. “It was an emotional match, for sure.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-388-5825, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.