Hampton falls to Pope John Paul II in state championship battle of volleyball unbeatens

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Saturday, November 18, 2023 | 7:01 PM


SILVER SPRING TOWNSHIP — Hampton took its unbeaten streak on the road to Cumberland Valley High School for the PIAA Class 3A girls volleyball championships against fellow unbeaten and defending state champion Pope John Paul II from District 1 on Saturday.

Pope John Paul II repeated as champions, winning 3-1 with game scores of 25-20, 21-25, 25-15 and 25-20.

The WPIAL champion Talbots (24-1) had swept Oakland Catholic, Bald Eagle Area and North Catholic to reach the championship contest.

District 1 champion Pope John Paul II (25-0) swept Engineering and Sciences, Middletown (District 1) and Spring Grove to reach the pinnacle of the PIAA season and its opportunity to repeat as PIAA champions.

The teams were very similar as both had size and depth, but the difference was the ability of Pope John Paul II to spread the ball around and keep rallies going.

“We knew we were going to be in a tough match with this team,” said Pope John Paul II coach Ryan Sell. “We knew the hitters they had and their ability to play together.

“The pressure was there all season. Hutton (Cordrey) was so good today. I had the opportunity to coach her sister before and the ability to coach most of this team since they were 12 or 13. I am so proud of them.”

Hampton fell behind twice in Game 1 by four and by six points but rallied each time to stay in the game. Finally, Pope John Paul’s Cindy Jin stepped to the service line and served five straight points to give the Panthers a 21-16 lead. The Talbots responded, getting the game to within two at 22-20, before the Panthers served out the game to win 25-20.

The Talbots won Game 2 to tie the match with a 25-21 victory. Big games from Emmy Schrom, Payton Galietti, Avery Koontz and Emma Rick led the way, and ball control and ability to keep the ball alive were crucial in the win.

In Game 3, Hampton fell behind 6-1 but rallied to get within two at 6-4. The Panthers put the pedal to the floor and rolled to a 25-15 win behind Cordrey.

The Talbots fell behind 22-11 in the final game and battled back to 23-20 before Pope John Paul II was able to put them away.

“Our seniors have been the heart and soul, and we will miss them,” said Hampton coach Dainen Holler. “My assistant and I were briefly talking about the memories with them. We played well. We just ran into a very good team today. The girls never quit and battled right to the end, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

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