South Fayette girls volleyball celebrates special season

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Thursday, November 7, 2019 | 8:06 PM


It was a season full of highs for the South Fayette girls volleyball team.

But it had to come to an end.

The Lions wrapped up their season with a loss in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs Nov. 5. While it wasn’t how the team imagined it ending, coach Scott Sundgren doesn’t want the state playoff exit to take away what this team accomplished.

“I think they had a certain amount of grit,” Sundgren said. “They were down in a lot of matches. But they would fight back to win sets. They never lost confidence. It always felt like we could pull a win out.”

The postseason schedule didn’t do the Lions any favors as they faced the top two teams in the WPIAL in consecutive games. South Fayette reached the WPIAL semifinals but fell to Thomas Jefferson, 3-1. But the Lions clinched a spot in the PIAA playoffs with a top-four finish in the WPIAL.

In the opening round of the state tournament, South Fayette faced WPIAL champion Knoch. The Lions fell 3-0 to the Knights. It was the first appearance in the PIAA tournament for South Fayette since 2015.

“We made it to the Final Four of the WPIAL,” Sundgren said. “We only lost to Thomas Jefferson and Knoch in full match play. I can’t complain losing to two really good teams. Overall, it was a pretty successful year.”

South Fayette finished the season 16-3.

The Lions had a strong regular season, completing a 14-0 run through Section 2. It was the first section title for the team since 2015.

“It’s the first time we’ve gone through the section undefeated,” Sundgren said. “I never expected that. There are so many good teams in our section. Chartiers Valley was great last year and came back strong. Montour was good and should be strong next year.

“Even teams like Trinity and Quaker Valley were solid. Put them in another section, and they may have made the playoffs.”

Libero Nicolena Yanosick and defensive specialist Amanda Malosh both had strong seasons for the Lions.

“They played incredible through the playoffs,” Sundgren said. “Those two were awesome. Having a good defense can really keep you in a match.”

Right-side hitter Lauren Saulle and outside hitter Alisa Gealey were playmakers. A pair of juniors made an impact — Isabella Franjione has a solid season in her debut as the team’s setter, and Lilah Speca was in her second season as an outside hitter.

“All the kids were great,” Sundgren said. “What made a big difference is they all worked hard in the gym. A lot of people forget about the other kids in the gym. They may not be on the court all the time. But their contributions made the team and environment better every day.”

The team loses four seniors to graduation — Saulle, Gealey, Yanosick and Malosh.

“We’re losing the foundation of our defense,” Sundgren said. “We lose two hitters who’ve been pretty good. Those are big shoes to fill.”

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