Freeport Wins First Ever WPIAL Girls Volleyball AA Title

Sunday, November 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Coming into Saturday's WPIAL Class AA Volleyball Championship match, everyone knew that there was going to be a new champion after the defending back-to-back Class AA Champion West Allegheny Indians had been dethroned on Thursday night at Franklin Regional High School in the semifinals by the number top-seed Indiana "Little Indians" in five thrilling sets. The WPIAL Volleyball steering committee again had got it right as the top seeded and undefeated Indiana "Little Indians" (15-0) and the Section 4 AA Champions were facing the number two seeded Freeport Yellowjackets (17-0) and Champions of Section 6 AA.

Freeport head coach Tom Phillips team had the advantage of having brought his squad to last year's final for the school's first ever appearance in the ultimate WPIAL girls volleyball match as they seemed to come out tight in falling to West Allegheny in three sets one year ago.

Indiana head coach Malinda Oesterling was bringing her team to the WPIAL'S "biggest" girls volleyball match for the first time.

Freeport's 2010 post-season run has been full of 5-set nail biters. The Jackets won their first round match easily at home over the 15th seeded Greensburg-Salem Golden Lions, 3-0. However, things had gotten much more difficult after that for the squad from Armstrong county. In the quarterfinals, Freeport had to go to the "short game" to defeat the number 10 seed Mars "Fightin Planets" 3-2. On Thursday night in the semifinals, Freeport went the distance in eliminating the number 6 seeded Hopewell Vikings, 3-2.

On the other hand, Indiana had won their first round match against #16 seed West Shamokin Wolves at home in three sets. They followed that win up with another sweep of the #8 seed Ambridge Bridgers in the quarterfinals before "upsetting" West Allegheny in rallying from a two sets to none hole in the semifinals.

Indiana began the championship match in similar fashion as they had started Thursday's semifinal, slowly. Their biggest scoring run of game one was only two points of which they did (4) times during the first set. Freeport on the other hand tallied scoring runs of three points once with a (11-4) lead, five points when the Yellowjackets led (8-3) and their largest of the first set six points at (23-12) before closing out game one with a 25-15 victory.

The "Little Indians" found their groove in game number two and Freeport struggled to put scoring runs together of more than two points in this set. Indiana moved out to a quick 4-0 start and would never trail in this game. Indiana had a consecutive point run of five points to push ahead of Freeport at (19-8) and rolled up another 4-point run to take control of this set at (23-9) before tying the match at 1 game apiece with a 25-12 win.

The Yellowjackets did not have a scoring run of more than two points in the entire second game.

It was now time for the pivotal game number three. The winner to be one set away from their first ever WPIAL girls volleyball Championship. Both teams competed hard to win this crucial third game. There were (6) ties the last one at 10-10 before Freeport was able to grab the advantage for good at (11-10) during a four point run and were able to stay out in front between three and eight points throughout the remainder of set three. The closest Indiana got late in the set after the last tie was a three point deficit at (19-16). Freeport produced scoring runs of four points twice in this game. The first one increased their lead to (14-10) and the second one put the Jackets ahead (23-16). Conversely, Indiana was not able to score more than two points at any time in the third game. It was Freeport taking the third set, 25-17 to move within one set of their first WPIAL girls volleyball title.

The "Little Indians" reached down deep and found their resolve in set number 4. Indiana broke a 1-1 tie and went ahead 3-1 and never looked back in snatching game number 4, 25-18. Indiana maintained a bulge of between two and eight points throughout this must win set. Indiana led by two points at (6-4) early in this game before leading by scores of (15-9), (17-11) and (22-14) before a thunderous termination by Indiana, 5'9" senior, outside hitter, Leslie Stapleton ended the match for a 25-18 "Little Indians" win.

The 2010 WPIAL Class AA Championship match was going to be decided by the dramatic "short game".

Indiana came out of the shute on fire just as they did in Thursday evening's semifinal against West Allegheny and took a (3-0) lead. Freeport responded positively to that opening by scoring three straight points of their own to tie it at (3-3). Another three point run by Indiana boosted them in front, (7-4). The Yellowjackets pecked away and tied the fifth set at 9-all with senior, 5'7" middle hitter, Laura Prunty behind the service line. Prunty scored a big ace that moved Freeport to within one point at (9-8) midway through the fifth game. Indiana scored the next point to break the (9-9) tie to lead (10-9) before Freeport scored the next five points to take over the set at (14-10). The key moments during this vital momentum switch were Yellowjackets sophomore, 5'9" middle hitter, Lauren Frazetta and senior, 5'10" middle hitter, Rachel Grubbs blocking a powerful swing from the Indians Leslie Stapleton that wold have tied the set at (11-11) and swung the service over to the Indians. Indiana then committed two attack errors, one by 5'11" junior, middle hitter, Alexandra Liboski and another one by Leslie Stapleton to move Freeport within one point of the match and championship at 14-10. Indiana scored two points and got close at 14-12 before Freeport won the set and the WPIAL Class AA Title with a 15-12 victory.

Both the Freeport Yellowjackets (18-0) and the Indiana Indians (15-1) advance to play in the PIAA Class AA playoffs that start next Saturday, November 13th.

Freeport will begin in Pool C along with the District 8 champion, District 10 runner-up and WPIAL third seed West Allegheny (11-3) who defeated the Hopewell Vikings in three sets today in the WPIAL Consolation match. Indiana will start in Pool D with the District 10 Champion, District 9 Champion and the District 6 Champion.

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