Hampton, Pope John Paul II to collide in state championship clash of undefeated volleyball powers

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Thursday, November 16, 2023 | 11:01 AM


The Hampton girls volleyball team gathered Wednesday afternoon to watch videos of their PIAA championship opponent, Pope John Paul II.

They could have been looking at a mirror.

“I think we’re the two most offensively powerful teams in the state,” Hampton all-state senior outside hitter Emmy Schrom said. “Both of our teams are big. We both have girls that are over 6-feet tall. We both have offenses that have been dominant the entire season.”

Two weeks after winning the program’s first WPIAL title, Hampton will try to add another elusive gold medal when the Talbots (25-0) face defending state champion Pope John Paul II (26-0) on Saturday at Cumberland Valley High School in a highly anticipated PIAA Class 3A championship.

No. 1 Pope John Paul II and No. 2 Hampton have been ranked atop the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association state poll all season, and they met little resistance on their respective paths to the PIAA finals.

Neither team has lost a set in the postseason, including Hampton’s 3-0 win over last year’s PIAA runner-up, North Catholic, in the state semifinals.

Five-time District 1 champion Pope John Paul II, riding a 53-match winning streak, has dropped only two sets all season. Hampton has lost only three sets — two in the first week of the season and one midseason with Schrom out with an illness.

“We just continue to get better and stick to the process,” Hampton second-year coach Dainen Holler said. “We are playing as good as we have all year. The girls are excited, and they are ready for this opportunity.”

Hampton, which lost to Spring Grove in the PIAA finals two years ago, will face its toughest test in Pope John Paul II, located in Royersford, 30 miles outside Philadelphia.

All-state senior setter Madison Monahan, a William & Mary recruit, directs an imposing Pope John Paul II attack led by 6-foot-1 Bryant-bound all-state hitter Natalie Ricevuto.

“They are definitely going to be one of the biggest teams we’ve played this year and obviously one of the most talented,” Holler said. “It should be a good matchup.”

The Golden Panthers’ front line also includes 6-foot junior hitter Maeve Gallagher, 6-1 sophomore middle blocker Norah Busch and senior all-state hitter Hutton Cordrey.

“My team is really balanced, and I think Hampton is a very, very, very good team,” Pope John Paul II 12th-year coach Ryan Sell said. “This is going to be a really good match.”

The 6-foot-1 Schrom powers the Talbots, who are trying to join boys cross country as the second Hampton team this fall to win its first state title. Schrom, a Duquesne recruit, recorded her 1,000th career kill in the PIAA quarterfinal victory over District 6 champion Bald Eagle

“Emmy is a really, really nice player,” Sell said. “Duquesne is pretty lucky to get her.”

Schrom is joined up front by 5-11 senior Emma Rick, 6-foot senior Allison Schepner, junior Payton Galietti and freshman outside hitter Marin Katona-Bock.

Sophomore setter Lilly Muczinski, who already has more than 1,000 career assists, guides the offense, and all-WPIAL senior libero Avery Koontz, a Pitt Johnstown recruit, leads the Talbots defense with 290 digs.

“We’re very excited to play another undefeated team,” Schrom said. “It’s been a great season, and we’ve had a lot of success. But we’re eager to get a matchup as hyped as this one. Two undefeated teams. You can’t ask for much better than that.”

PIAA Class 3A girls volleyball championship

Hampton (25-0) vs. Pope John Paul II (26-0)

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Cumberland Valley High School

On the air: PCN Select

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