Section title provides highlight for Franklin Regional girls volleyball

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Saturday, October 30, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Despite coming into the season as defending WPIAL champion, the Franklin Regional volleyball team took nothing for granted.

Winning the first section title in program history was a difficult task that required a season’s worth of hard work.

“We have always said that no one is going to hand us a win. We have to work hard for it and play our best,” first-year coach Rachel Frye said. “As we got into the second half of the season, we started to settle in and made sure that we were focusing on the task at hand and be present in the moment and not look too far into the future.”

Franklin Regional defeated Plum, 3-1, in the regular-season finale to capture a share of the Section 1-3A title.

The sixth-seeded Panthers finished 12-2, tying Plum and Indiana for the top spot. They were upset in their playoff opener, however, losing to No. 11 seed Montour in a rematch of last year’s WPIAL championship game.

Frye said her team’s intangibles were just as valuable as its net play in claiming the section title.

“Their positive attitudes and competitive energy are some of their strengths that have really carried them through some of the toughest matches,” she said. “We try and focus on the good things and continue to fight for our wins. They are always very positive on the court, and this helps them play their best.”

Maddie Nguyen, Ella Evans and Lexa Yankauskas were the kill leaders, with Julia Kubera setting up the attack and Sydney Breitkreutz leading the defense.

Even a bad stretch did not deter the Panthers.

“We had one bad week where we lost two section matches in a row, and that really shook us up,” Frye said. “Those two bad games taught us so much as a team, and I think in that very moment we turned the page and came out stronger because of those two losses.”

In the next match, the Panthers fell behind by two sets to Kiski Area — Frye’s alma mater — but rallied to win the next three to take the match.

“That game was simply incredible,” Frye said.

Coaching at the high school level is new to Frye, but the transition has been made smoother by well-prepared wins.

She remains a student of the game.

“Becoming a high school coach was a huge adjustment for me overall,” she said. “I spend a lot of time strategizing for our next opponent, watching film and running through lineups in my head. My mind is constantly running and thinking of new things to try or things we can do differently. There is no doubt that I am the busiest I’ve ever been with coaching, working my full-time job and planning my wedding, but I have enjoyed every single moment and wouldn’t change anything.

“I’m so thankful to be in this role and can’t wait for all of the years to come.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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