North Catholic topples Ellwood City to capture 2nd WPIAL girls volleyball title in 3 years

Saturday, November 7, 2020 | 6:03 PM

Last season, the North Catholic girls volleyball team was a set away on three occasions from going back-to-back in championship opportunities, but ultimately fell to Freeport in five sets.

The Trojans had gone up two sets to none, but faltered a bit late in a competitive match.

This year, North Catholic didn’t mess around as it met fellow unbeaten Ellwood City in Saturday’s Class 2A championship and claimed a 3-1 victory.

The top-seeded Trojans dominated the first two sets, 25-13 and 25-12.

Ellwood City won the third set in a good showing, but North Catholic stepped back on the gas in the fourth set and won it going away to grab its second gold medal in three years at the district level.

Normally, one may think the Trojans thought back to that aforementioned Freeport game.

North Catholic did not.

“It’s sad to say, but this year we have not talked about that or our state championship,” North Catholic coach Amanda Fetter said. “We’re really big in our gym on one foot at a time, one play at a time, one game at a time, one day at a time. We always look forward.”

The Trojans won the first four points of the first set, before rattling off two more runs of four points or more, including a seven-point rally to secure the first set.

In the second set, North Catholic broke out to an 8-2 lead and led by 13 at the end, and twice overall in the set.

That’s when the Trojans got the punch back from the Wolverines, one they were expecting.

“I don’t think we expected to beat them the way we did in the first two games,” Fetter said. “After we did we were fully expecting them to come back guns a blazin’ and they did.”

Ellwood City had not led but once, at 1-0 in the second set, in the first two sets, and took its largest lead of the day to that point, 6-4 in the third set. The Wolverines ended up running off eight consecutive late in the set after the score was 15-14 Ellwood City to run away a bit with the set.

It was the first set North Catholic had lost since the first match of the year.

“We’ve said that all year: play Ellwood volleyball,” Ellwood City coach Jenna Ricciuti said. “They finally did. They relaxed enough and going into the fourth set we were on it, but they’re a tough team. You give them all the credit. The two best teams were here today, and the best team won.”

North Catholic led 10-4, 14-7 and 19-8 before running away with the fourth set 25-11.

“We had a couple of kids crashing in the third set,” Fetter said. “Once they got some food in them and they didn’t feel like they were falling over, we took it to them.”

The Feczko sisters, Elizabeth, a senior, and Ally, a sophomore, were both significant cogs in the win, along with setter Sydnei Jones and hitter Riley Warda.

“We served really well,” Fetter said. “Sydnei is amazing. She distributes the ball. Riley (Warda) had a heck of a game and really took over. Ally was great too.”

The Trojans now head to the state playoffs and will get a bye to the quarterfinals. They’ll play either District 9 champion Redbank Valley or District 5 champion Chestnut Ridge. Those two play in the subregional.

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