North Catholic overcomes slow start to eliminate Latrobe from PIAA girls volleyball playoffs

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022 | 8:08 PM


When facing one of the top girls volleyball teams in the state, the goal is to put them on the defensive.

That’s what Latrobe did Tuesday in its PIAA Class 3A first-round match against WPIAL champion North Catholic.

But North Catholic is ranked No. 1 for a reason, and the Trojans rallied to defeat the Wildcats, 3-0, by scores of 25-23, 25-21 and 25-11.

North Catholic (17-2) advanced to the quarterfinals Saturday against the winner of the Hollidaysburg/Greencastle-Antrim match.

The Wildcats, playing in their first PIAA tournament, finished 18-2. Latrobe had been unbeaten in the regular season, also a program first.

Latrobe jumped on North Catholic early and forced Trojans coach Amanda Fetter to call a timeout.

“They like to attack the middle, and we needed to hit the restart button and start playing at the level we’re comfortable at,” Fetter said. “Slow starts seem to happen with us.”

Behind kills from Katie McNelly and Allison Feczko, the Trojans snapped a 21-21 tie and earned the victory by scoring four of the final six points.

North Catholic countered Latrobe’s middle with an outside hitting attack.

In Game 2, North Catholic raced out to an 8-3 lead only to watch Latrobe, behind the play of Izzy Trice, Maya Krehlik and Emma Blair, pull even at 18-18 and 19-19.

But strong net play by Stephanie Lynch, Sydnei Jones and Feczko put the game away.

“We talked at our last two practices about playing with enthusiasm and playing fast,” Latrobe coach Drew Vosefski said. “We did that, but North Catholic is a great team and it countered. Then it was a battle the rest of the way.”

Latrobe stormed out to a 5-1 lead in Game 3 as Paige Watson, Ava Krehlik, Blair and Lily Fenton contributed points. But Jones served a couple aces, had a kill and a block as North Catholic settled down and scored six consecutive points for a 6-5 lead.

It stayed close until Rebecca Feczko served consecutive aces to help the Trojans pull away for the win.

Latrobe graduates 10 seniors, and Vosefski spent time after the match talking to each of them.

“We lose a strong group, but I expect a lot from the underclassmen,” Vosefski said. “We don’t lower our expectations. Class 3A was strong top to bottom, and that impressed me.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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