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Freeport girls volleyball tops rival Knoch

| Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, 11:00 p.m.
Freeport's Ashley Sample (right) attempts to block a spike against Knoch's Celina Sanks during the volleyball game at Knoch High School on Tuesday September 11, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Freeport's Zoe Pawlak (right) delivers a spike against Knoch's Schaely Renfrew during a volleyball game at Knoch High School on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

Members of the Freeport girls volleyball team gathered in the middle of the court, danced and chanted “We are Freeport!” just moments after their win over Knoch.

Even Brendan Lynch, a senior quarterback and leader of the student section cheers, snuck into the mass of people and celebrated.

Forgive the Yellowjackets and their fans. It's been awhile since a section match left them exhilarated.

Freeport (2-0, 2-0) survived its first major test in Section 4-AA on Tuesday, as it edged host Knoch, 3-1. The nerve-rattling fourth game, a 29-27 win, seemed particularly foreign to the Yellowjackets, who last lost a section match in 2007 and rarely even dropped one game during that stretch.

“It's like a playoff atmosphere here,” said senior Ashley Sample, who buried the match-winning kill. “That's what we need, because in the past, we didn't always have that. It'll help us in the playoffs.”

Both student sections traded taunts throughout the evening.

At the initial match point, Freeport's fans chanted, “This is our house!”

The chant drew a reply of “Wait till tennis!” from Knoch fans, who also filled downtime with iterations of “Sweet Caroline” and other popular sporting event tunes.

“The fans got their money's worth,” Knoch coach Diane Geist said. “I guess it lived up to the build-up.”

The matchup of defending section champs — Freeport belonged to Section 6 before realignment, and Knoch shared the Section 2 title — featured moments of inconsistency on both sides.

Freeport jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the first game, en route to a 25-13 win.

Knoch (3-1, 2-1) went ahead, 8-1, and later prevailed, 25-18, in the second.

Freeport took the third, 25-12, and opened the fourth game with a 6-0 run. But Knoch junior hitters Celina Sanks and Schaely Renfrew fueled a rally that led to an 11-all tie, and the teams traded small margins thereafter.

Sanks finished with 11 kills and eight blocks. Renfrew had nine kills.

Freeport, meanwhile, leaned on junior Alexis Schrecengost (nine kills) and freshman Zoe Pawlak (14 kills) in crunch time.

“A lot of heart out there tonight. Freeport coach Tom Phillips said “It's a shame somebody had to lose.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at wwest@tribweb.com or 724-543-1303 ext. 1321.

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