Knoch, Thomas Jefferson to collide in WPIAL girls volleyball title match

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Friday, November 1, 2019 | 5:11 PM


Knoch and Thomas Jefferson were the top two ranked girls volleyball teams in WPIAL Class AAA throughout the season, and they were rewarded with the top two seeds in the playoff bracket.

The No. 1 Knights (17-0) and No. 2 Jaguars (18-1) turned away challengers through the first three rounds, and they will meet for the title at 4 p.m. Saturday at Fox Chapel.

Knoch is going for its third straight WPIAL crown. The last time that was accomplished was 2002-05, when Hopewell captured four Class AA titles. Farrell won the first five Class A championships from 2000-04.

“The girls are very excited,” Knoch coach Diane Geist said. “This has been a goal since the beginning of the season. The girls have worked hard to meet every challenge.”

Knoch began the playoffs with a 3-1 win over Woodland Hills and rallied past No. 9 West Allegheny on Monday after dropping the first set.

Knoch carried the momentum from the quarterfinals into Wednesday’s semifinals and swept previously unbeaten Franklin Regional, 3-0.

Geist said she was proud of the effort against the Panthers.

Seniors Skylar Burkett and Hannah Rowe led the hitters with 11 and nine kills, respectively.

Rowe, an Albany commit and a two-time all-state selection, returned to the lineup after missing time because of back issues.

“Going in there and getting some blocks right off the bat really helped her,” Geist said. “Some of her hits were a little off, but she’s a competitor, and she wanted to go in and go full-speed right from the start. We’re trying to tell her to take it easy. Everyone’s happy that she’s back.”

Geist said senior hitter Kennedy Christy, a Juniata commit and also a two-time all-state selection, will not play Saturday as she continues to recover from a concussion.

“She’s able to do a few things in practice, but she’s just not able to go live,” Geist said.

Thomas Jefferson, which won its eighth straight section title this season, swept Albert Gallatin in the first round, topped No. 10 Chartiers Valley in the quarterfinals and beat South Fayette, 3-1, in Wednesday’s semifinals.

Four Jaguars players tallied at least eight kills against the Lions. Senior middle hitter Tyler Turk led the way with 14, followed by senior middle hitter Natasha Yanief (13), junior outside hitter Julia Palmer (12) and junior right-side hitter Claire Whalen (8).

Thomas Jefferson is seeking its first WPIAL title as it makes its third trip to the championship in the past six years.

“They are pretty solid all the way around,” Geist said. “They have a tall middle, and their other middle swings really well. They can hit from every position. Their setter is solid, as is their defense.

“We have to be very scrappy on defense. We can’t afford a lot of errors, or they will make us pay. It will come down to us not giving up if we run into a struggle.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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