Knoch girls volleyball tops Franklin Regional, reaches WPIAL finals

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019 | 10:49 PM


The Knoch girls volleyball team will play for a third straight WPIAL Class AAA championship.

The Knights swept past Franklin Regional on Wednesday in a semifinal match at North Allegheny, winning games 25-23, 25-17 and 25-18.

“I am really proud of their effort,” Knoch coach Diane Geist said. “We’re hoping for that three-peat, and we reached our goal of getting to the title game.”

Knoch, the top seed, improved to 18-1 and will face No. 2 Thomas Jefferson for the title Saturday at 4 p.m. at Fox Chapel.

The Jaguars punched their ticket to the finals with a 3-1 win over No. 3 South Fayette in the early game of the North Allegheny doubleheader.

Franklin Regional, which lost for the first time in 17 matches this season, still is alive in the postseason and will begin play in the PIAA tournament Tuesday.

“In this particular case, Knoch outplayed us, and we have a lot of respect for them. They played really well,” Panthers coach Mike Feorene said. “In the huddle at the end, I told the girls that there were 32 teams in AAA this season, and they were one of those four strong teams that made it to the semifinals. These girls are resilient. I expect on Tuesday they will be fresh and ready to go.”

The Panthers’ position in the bracket and first-round opponent will be determined based on the outcome of Saturday’s title match.

Senior hitter Hannah Rowe, a University of Albany commit, returned from injury for Knoch and delivered 10 kills and six blocks.

She entered the match with the first set tied at 21 and teamed with fellow senior Skylar Burkett for a block to give the Knights the lead.

“With being out, my adrenaline was so high when I went in,” Rowe said. “I got a couple blocks, and I was able to calm down and do what I normally do. It was fine from there.”

Burkett finished the match with a team-best 11 kills, junior Morgan Jack recorded 11 service points and 13 assists, and senior libero Kenzie Kerkan made 14 digs.

Senior hitter Kennedy Christy, a Juniata commit, remained out of the Knights lineup because of injury.

Knoch opened an 8-2 lead in Game 2. Franklin Regional rallied back to as close as 13-12 before the Knights regained control and pulled away for the win.

In Game 3, Knoch had to rally as it trailed the Panthers by three at 10-7. The Knights tied the game at 16 on a kill from Morgan Frishkorn and took the lead for good on a block from Kate McCarty.

Kills from Rowe and Burkett, an ace from Jack and three Franklin Regional errors helped Knoch pull away for the match-clinching 25-18 win.

“The key to the win was playing smart,” Burkett said. “We got excited a few times, and it was important for us to just calm down and center ourselves to make good plays to get out of a few holes and rough spots.”

DePaul commit Aly Kindelberger, a junior, led Franklin Regional with 12 kills and four blocks, and senior Hannah Flick added seven kills and three blocks.

“We knew Franklin Regional wasn’t going to give up, and that third set is usually the hardest to get,” Geist said. “But the girls stayed focused and were able to get the job done.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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