New look Franklin Regional girls volleyball maintains lofty expectations

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Sunday, September 5, 2021 | 7:39 PM


A new chapter in the Franklin Regional girls volleyball program will be written in 2021 following a season unlike any other.

Franklin Regional won its first WPIAL championship in a pandemic-riddled 2020 season and reached the PIAA finals for the first time.

Thanks to an abundance of talent, the Panthers took first place in Section 1-AAA and finished with an 18-3 record — despite spectator restrictions throughout the fall season.

The team, ranked eighth in Class 3A this preseason by the Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association, has a new coach in Rachel Frye, who takes over for Mike Feorene.

Feorene retired in January after eight seasons at Franklin Regional.

He compiled a 107-35 record with the Panthers, after going 87-49 and 56-23 with the Norwin boys and girls teams, finishing 250-107 overall.

Frye, a former volleyball and academic standout at Kiski Area and Penn State Behrend, was hired at FR in April. It is her first stint as a high school head coach.

“I think that after our successful season last year, we will have a lot of eyes on us this season,” Frye said. “From a new coaching staff to some graduating seniors, there have been a lot of changes. This team has embraced every single change and is more than prepared to take on everyone in our section. We are a very well-rounded team with a lot of strengths and talent.”

Frye has a few years of coaching experience with Westmoreland Elite Volleyball, where she used to play, and also served as an assistant at Obama Academy in 2019. She is a 2017 Penn State Behrend graduate and was a right-side hitter for four years. The Lions won their conference championship in Frye’s senior year.

Frye majored in communications in college, and now is employed by Allegheny Health Network as a project manager for the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

“From being a player to becoming a coach, it has been such a fun transition over the last few years,” Frye said. “I have so many incredible coaches from my past that I have been able to take a lot of coaching tips and advice from.”

“I have been playing volleyball since third grade when my dad started coaching my team at the local YMCA. I played in middle school and high school, and club volleyball at Westmoreland Elite, and spent time in every position in the front row (outside, middle and right side).”

Frye has inherited a Franklin Regional with gobs or returning talent.

The Panthers were led in 2020 by a big-hitting senior in Aly Kindelberger, a 6-foot-2 middle hitter and DePaul recruit who racked up more than 1,000 career kills; along with seniors Nicole Currens (outside hitter), Alexa Feorene (OH), Ashley Feorene (setter), Renee Baldy (right-side hitter) and Ella Spears (OH), and freshman Brooke Feorene (defensive specialist).

Kindelberger, a two-time Class AAA all-state player, the Feorene twins and Baldy were three-year starters; Kindelberger, Baldy and Alexa Feorene were first-team all-section selections.

Among the key players back in 2021 are seniors Sydney Breitkreutz (DS), Deanna Perry (RS/MH), Julia Kubera (S/RS), Julia Jannetto (DS/OH), Kamryn Marcus (DS) and Juliana DiVincenzo (S/RS), along with Brooke Feorene and junior Ella Evans (MH).

Others in the mix for playing time include juniors Madison Nguyen (S/RS), Lexa Yankauskas (OH) and Maren Whiteford (MH/RS), and freshman prospect Toryn Fulton (MH).

Selena Jimenez, a senior right-side hitter, has joined the squad as a foreign exchange student from Spain.

“Given my background as a player, I can truly relate to each of my players in many ways,” Frye said. “I am very passionate about this sport and love to coach athletes that are passionate, as well.

“I want my players to leave everything out on the court and give me 110% at all times. Most of all, I want them to have a memorable high school season.”

The Panthers won the Section 1 title last fall and went on to place second in the state in Class AAA.

As the No. 4 seed last season in the WPIAL tournament, FR defeated No. 13 Elizabeth Forward (3-0), No. 5 South Fayette (3-2), No. 1 Beaver (3-0) and No. 3 Montour (3-2).

The Panthers, who enter this season with seven seniors, nine juniors, five sophomores and seven freshmen, reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA second round two years ago.

Westmoreland County players to watch

Megan Baker, Derry, Sr., S

Sydney Breitkreutz, Franklin Regional, Sr., DS

Lizzy Crissman, Ligonier Valley, Jr., MH

Olivia Fanelli, Penn-Trafford, Sr., OH

Lily Fenton, Latrobe, Jr., S

Isabella Guerrieri, Greensburg C.C., Sr., OH/DS

Rebecca Hess, Greensburg C.C., Sr., OH

Julia Kraztenburg, Greensburg C.C., Sr., OH/MH

Abby Mankins, Greensburg Salem, Sr., OH

Tiana Moracco, Derry, Sr., MH

Delaynie Morvosh, Southmoreland, Sr., MH

Grace Petnuch, Greensburg C.C., Sr., MH

Hannah Ruffner, Derry, Sr., MH

Kenna Schropp, Penn-Trafford, Sr., DS

Sarah Sheeder, Ligonier Valley, Sr., L

Gracie Spadero, Southmoreland, Sr., MH/S

Haley Stormer, Ligonier Valley, Sr., OH

Maura Suman, Penn-Trafford, Sr., S

Maria Vanyo, Yough, Sr., MH

Bailey Watson, Latrobe, Sr., L

Sasha Whitfield, Derry, Jr., OH

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