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Road sign honors Freeport Area volleyball state champs

Chuck Biedka
| Thursday, March 29, 2018, 4:39 p.m.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Freeport Area High School girls volleyball coach Tom Phillips poses for a photo with a sign commemorating the first PIAA state championship in 96 years of Freeport High School sports on Thursday, March 29, 2018, at the Freeport Bridge in Freeport.

Freeport Area School District's state championship volleyball players know they won big in 2017, but it may take more time for that to really sink in, several of the girls said Thursday moments before they were honored with a commemorative sign.

Freeport Mayor James E. Swartz Jr. and three Freeport business and civic leaders paid for the roadside sign, in Yellowjacket gold and blue, to honor the PIAA Class AA champs.

The sign is along Second Street not far from the Freeport Bridge.

The girl's volleyball team was the first team in Freeport's 96-year history to win a state championship, although some Freeport Area track stars have recorded individual state titles, Swartz said.

"We wanted them to know that we appreciate it," the mayor said.

It's a small borough, where motorists honked their horns at the mayor and the players.

Beth Davis, a financial advisor with Edward Jones; Heidi Powell of the ReMax real estate office; Freeport Solicitor Jerry Deangelis and Swartz paid for the sign.

Davis played on two state champion softball teams while attending Leechburg High School. After watching a niece compete, Davis said she wishes Leechburg had a volleyball team when she was in school.

"This was a wonderful thing," she said. "They are great, and I am glad to help."

When the team lost at the WPIAL finals, that intensified the girls' push to win for a state crown, said coach Tom Phillips, who was accompanied by his wife and team volunteer of 17 years, Jamie.

The team won five matches in a row after the loss and finished 22-2 overall.

"I have known many of them since they were seventh-graders," Phillips said. "A very fine group of young ladies. Very stellar for sure. We had very fine leadership on the team."

"'Happy' doesn't even touch it," Jamie Phillips smiled.

The girls, mayor and numerous parents wore T-shirts listing the team members.

"It still feels surreal. Maybe it will hit me in a couple of years," said team captain Hannah Mason, a senior with plans to study at St. Vincent College.

Mallory Stopko, a senior from South Buffalo, wants to study forensic science at Waynesburg University. Clair Crytzer, a senior defensive back line player from Freeport, is also appreciative.

She still is reviewing options about college and volleyball.

Crytzer said she was supported by her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, who attended games with family friends.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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