George Guido: Freeport seniors capture 3rd WPIAL volleyball title

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Saturday, November 5, 2022 | 4:18 PM


Freeport brought home its seventh WPIAL girls volleyball title Saturday.

But it wasn’t easy.

The Yellowjackets lost the first set and won the second, setting up a grueling third set where the score was tied nine times and there were six lead changes before Freeport prevailed.

In the fourth set, Freeport was behind by as much as six before rallying late to win the crown.

Shenango’s the real deal,” Yellowjackets coach Tom Phillips said. “They’re a worthy opponent for sure. We had to battle today.”

It was the third WPIAL title for the six seniors on the squad.

“We just had the mind-set that we had to give our all,” senior Cassidy Dell said. “We’re down, but we knew we had to play as one team to come back.”

Freeport has also finished as runner-up four times during Phillips’ regime.

The Yellowjackets won the state title in 2017.

Yikes

Friday was another tough playoff night for A-K Valley football teams.

All five lost their opening-round games. The only school that didn’t lose was Freeport — the Yellowjackets didn’t play.

Freeport will host West Mifflin at 7 p.m. on Friday in the Class 3A quarterfinals.

No local school has made the WPIAL finals since Knoch in 2011; Springdale was the last local team to bring home a title in 2003. When the Dynamos were welcomed home that day from the win over Sto-Rox with an escort of fire trucks blaring sirens, little did the players know they would be in their late 30s without other area players having the same experience.

Home kinda sweet home

Playing at home to open the WPIAL playoffs doesn’t guarantee victory.

In eight of the 27 playoff games Friday, the visiting team prevailed. That’s close to 30% of contests.

Latrobe won at Highlands in overtime, 28-21. Clairton, Woodland Hills, Upper St. Clair, East Allegheny, Washington, Rochester and Union celebrated victories in white jerseys.

In fact, had Montour not thrown a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown against Hampton on the last play of the game, 1/3 of the visiting teams would have won.

Milestones

Even with the losses, there were a couple of notable milestones.

Chandler Thimons of Highlands finished his career as the leading all-time career passer in the 124 years of Alle-Kiski Valley scholastic football. Thimons finished with 5,014 yards. His 20-yard pass to Landan Signorella in the fourth quarter put the Golden Rams senior over the magic mark.

Leechburg’s Braylan Lovelace, beset by injuries the final two weeks of the season, managed 47 rushing yards against Mapletown on Friday.

Lovelace, who’s headed to Pitt, finished with 4,170 career yards. That’s good enough for fifth on the all-time A-K Valley list.

It was also another banner night for Armstrong’s Cadin Olsen as the senior passed for 302 yards in the River Hawks’ victory over Blackhawk.

Olsen is eighth on the all-time WPIAL passing list with 7,607 yards. He needs 12 yards to catch Pine-Richland’s Ben DiNucci for seventh place.

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