Freeport volleyball tops Blackhawk to reach quarterfinals
The crowd nearly filled Freeport's gym for the WPIAL Class AA first-round girls volleyball match between the No. 2 Lady Yellowjackets and Blackhawk, and it remained rowdy enough to energize the home team and frustrate the visitors.
Freeport (15-1) pulled away in each game to prevail, 3-0. Scores stayed close through single digits (25-18, 25-17 and 25-15), but the Lady Yellowjackets displayed their strength with momentum-shifting runs.
“We were a little nervy there in the first game,” said Freeport coach Tom Phillips, whose team will meet No. 7 Ambridge on Tuesday in the quarterfinals. “Everyone was a little too concerned about doing a little more than they needed to and not just doing their part. But I think we got a little better each game.”
Blackhawk (7-5) scored the first two points of the match, and Freeport answered with a six-point run. The Lady Cougars cut the deficit to 7-6, and the Lady Yellowjackets responded by winning seven of the next eight points.
So the pattern went. Freeport used a dominant stretch in Game 2 to turn a 6-all tie into a 14-8 lead. Blackhawk rallied to come as close as 17-15. Then the Lady Yellowjackets won eight of the next 10 points.
In Game 3, a 9-all tie became a 17-10 Freeport advantage.
Blackhawk coach Robin Ostach gave the Freeport fans, particularly the students, a bit of credit for the emotional swings.
“The crowd was a huge factor in the game,” Ostach said. “We've never experienced anything like that. … They were on top of us.”
Different girls stepped up on each occasion to spark the streaks. Junior Megan Sweeny had four of the 14 Freeport points that didn't come from unforced Blackhawk errors in Game 1. Junior Alexis Schrecengost scored four of Freeport's final nine points in Game 2. Freshman Zoe Pawlak and senior Danika Durand keyed the major surge in Game 3.
“I think we built up energy as the match went on,” said senior Ashley Sample, who had seven kills.
Pawlak finished with a team-high nine kills and added one block and three aces. Schrecengost registered seven kills, one block and one ace. And Sweeny had four kills and three aces.
Juniors Haley Schramm and Allie Menges paced Blackhawk. Schramm had six kills, one block and one ace, while Menges finished with three kills and two blocks. Ostach acknowledged the Lady Cougars missed a few opportunities.
“We just couldn't get things coordinated,” she said. “It was like one person would be on, but another would be off.”
Menges made the biggest difference with her partial blocks. Blackhawk's defense at the net forced Freeport to win after long rallies on several occasions.
“We're a short team, so we expect to get blocked,” Sample said. “They're a good team and they came to play.”
Sample, Durand and fellow senior Lauren Frazetta left the Freeport court as winners for the final time. To reach the WPIAL finals for the fourth time in their careers, they must help the Lady Yellowjackets win the next two matches at neutral sites.
“It's pretty sad,” Sample, a three-year starter, said of her final home match. “It's kind of emotional and it really hasn't hit me yet.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1303.