Fresh off program’s first WPIAL title, Franklin Regional volleyball heads into state playoffs

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020 | 5:05 PM


This has been a year of firsts for the Franklin Regional girls volleyball team.

On Saturday, the Panthers captured their first WPIAL Class 3A volleyball title, rallying late to upend No. 3 Montour, 3-2.

The Panthers trailed 14-13 in the fifth set but leaned on Division I recruit Aly Kindelberger and her teammates to ice away a 17-15 victory.

Kindelberger, who signed a letter of intent with DePaul on Tuesday, had 31 kills in one match and is approaching 1,000 for her career.

“We needed her to make plays and she did,” Franklin Regional coach Mike Feorene said. “She’s amazing.”

Feorene coached 17 seasons at Norwin before taking over a winless Franklin Regional program eight years ago.

He coached the boys at Norwin for 17 years and took over for famed coach Sharon Watson and coached the girls for 12 years.

He turned things around, helping the squad rebound from an 0-10 season in 2017 when many of the players were freshmen.

“We were in a lot of games that season. We just couldn’t find away to pull a game out,” Feorene said. “That’s what is neat about this team. These girls have faced adversity and found ways to get it done. It was a surreal feeling when we won the title. It was incredible.”

Franklin Regional went 1-1 in the 2019 PIAA playoffs, defeating Conneaut but falling to WPIAL champion Knoch.

The Panthers open the state playoffs at noon Saturday at home against the winner of Wednesday’s match between Hollidaysburg and Bellefonte.

Feorene said he hopes the team can get to the state finals Nov. 21 in York.

And while Feorene doesn’t know much about the next opponent, he’s confident his team will be ready for another battle.

Franklin Regional, which was seeded No. 4, defeated No. 13 Elizabeth Forward (3-0), No. 5 South Fayette (3-2), No. 1 Beaver (3-0) and No. 3 Montour (3-2).

“We came out flying against Montour, winning the first set 25-8,” Feorene said. “But Montour made adjustments and we battled to the end. It was an incredible finish.”

Feorene said he’s constantly changing the lineup, looking for the right matchups.

His daughters, senior twins Ashley and Alexa, have played big roles. Ashley is the setter and Alexa went from libero to outside hitter. His niece, Brooke Feorene, plays a key role as a defensive specialist.

Senior rightside hitter Renee Baldy and junior outside hitter Sydney Breikreutz have come up with big plays along with junior setter Julia Kubera, senior outside hitter Nicole Currens, sophomore middle hitter Ella Evans and junior middle hitter Deanna Perry.

“Julia is a vocal leader and has taken her game to another level,” Mike Feorene said. “Your team is as good as your setter.

“We have a very balanced team and in that first game against Montour, no balls hit the floor.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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