North Catholic falls to Pope John Paul II in PIAA Class 3A finals

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Saturday, November 19, 2022 | 7:26 PM


MECHANICSBURG — The last two times North Catholic played volleyball at Cumberland Valley, the Trojans won a state championship.

Pope John Paul II ruined their hopes for a third state title with a five-set victory by scores of 15-25, 25-12, 18-25, 25-18, and 19-17 in the PIAA Class 3A final Saturday at the Eagle Dome at Cumberland Valley.

North Catholic defeated North Penn-Liberty in 2019 and Trinity in 2021 to win Class 2A state championships.

“We came out and played very well in the opening game, but didn’t maintain that in Game 2,” Trojans coach Amanda Fetter said. “I have to give them credit; they made plays and kept the ball alive and jumped on us when we weren’t playing well. We battled back in Game 3, but didn’t play the same in Game 4. We came out in the fifth game and had a lead, but couldn’t string two straight points together.

“This senior class is special — good volleyball players, but even better young ladies — they will be missed.”

In the fifth and decisive game, each team went on a quick run, and neither team led by more than three points. The game was tied five times late, but a key hit by outside hitter Maeve Gallagher gave the Panthers the lead at 18-17. A final hit by North Catholic’s Ally Feczko sailed long, setting off the Panthers’ celebration.

North Catholic won the opening game 25-15 behind the height and hitting of Feczko and Katie McNelly. The Trojans’ ball-handling was solid from Sydnei Jones, and they also got solid service games from Jones, Rebecca Feczko and Alex Sepcic.

Hutton Cordrey came alive for Pope John Paul II in Game 2 as the Panthers rolled out to a 10-0 lead and led 18-5 later in the game. Ella Williams was a huge difference for the Golden Panthers with five blocks in the game. North Catholic cut the deficit to 24-12 before falling 25-12.

The Panthers showed the life they displayed during their unbeaten season. Natalie Ricevuto, Williams and Cordrey made sure they kept their chance alive.

“This junior class has worked at getting better each year and this year was no exception,” Pope John Paul II coach Ryan Sell said. “We are unbeaten in sets, but we have lost games in tournaments this year. We are not a one-player team, so it takes the whole team to games. Natalie, Hutton, Madison (Monahan) and Maeve (Gallagher) have all contributed. Ella Williams came up big with blocks at key times to contain Feczko.”

The things the Trojans did in Game 1 disappeared in the second game. They struggled with ball-handling and battled but dug themselves too deep a hole to rally.

The magic returned in Game 3 as they got a solid effort from Jones and Feczko to win 25-18.

Game 4 returned momentum to Pope John Paul as the Panthers kept the ball alive and waited for a key opportunity from Ricevuto and Cordrey. Several rallies were spurred by great effort to keep the ball alive and won 25-16.

“The key today was keeping the ball alive and making them work for their points,” Sell said. “We knew they had good players; we have seen them in tournaments. We knew Sydnei (Jones) might be the best setter we have seen all year. We knew Ally (Feczko) was solid outside, and we needed to make her earn points. The first game was not what we were looking for, but we bounced back.”

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