Freeport sweeps Deer Lakes to roll into WPIAL volleyball semifinals
Freeport wasted little time showing why it's the top seed in WPIAL Class AA and the top-ranked girls volleyball team in the state.
The Yellowjackets took just 49 minutes to earn a 3-0 sweep of No. 8 Deer Lakes in the quarterfinals Tuesday night at Fox Chapel.
Freeport won 25-11, 25-7 and 25-18 and advanced to play No. 4 Serra Catholic in the semifinals Thursday at a time and site to be announced.
Strong service play set the pace for Freeport. The Yellowjackets had 16 aces — six by Ally DeJidas and five by Lauren Lampus.
Having success at the service line allowed Freeport to go on long runs in each set to keep a steady gap.
“For the season, we are serving at 96 percent,” Freeport coach Tom Phillips said. “We don't like to give points away at the service line. We work too hard for them.”
Lampus had a trio of aces and several other strong serves that forced hitting errors in a 9-0 run to begin the second set.
“A lot of times during practice, we work on staying aggressive on our serving,” said Lampus, a sophomore outside hitter. “Whenever we are serving in the game, we try to pick the weakest passer and keep serving her to try and get the play to go through her.”
Freeport, which is ranked No. 1 in Class AA by the PA Volleyball Coaches Association, took control in the first set after Hannah Mason made a kill from the left side to make it 7-6. From there the Yellowjackets scored 18 of the next 25 points. DeJidas had an ace and a kill, followed by a Haley Graham kill in the middle that spurred a 5-0 run in the middle of the set. Freeport used a 6-0 run that featured a block and a kill by Sarah Hettich and a pair of aces by Grubbs.
“Going into the game, I was little nervous, to be honest, because we had already played Deer Lakes twice, and I thought they might come out firing in the third game,” Grubbs said. “Overall as a team, we played really well. We kept focus on what our goal is and where we want to go.”
Freeport flexed its muscle in the second set, using a 9-0 run with Lampus at the service line, followed by a 7-0 run with Grubbs serving to pull out to a 17-3 lead.
“They put the ball where we weren't,” Deer Lakes coach Terry Gaston said. “You have to give them all the credit in the world. They don't make mistakes. I bet they didn't have more than three hitting errors all night.”
The Lancers led 7-4 in the third behind two kills, two blocks and an ace by middle hitter Kaylee Sciubba, but Freeport again used a 7-0 run to retake the lead and eventually put the match away.
“We had good chemistry, and we played together,” Phillips said. “In a match like that, sometimes it's a little hard to stay focused, but we have to play every point like we are behind. That's the mentality that we try to implore with them.”
For Deer Lakes, the season was a step forward. The Lancers won their first playoff game in school history, 3-2 over Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic on Thursday. Sciubba, whom Gaston said should make the All-WPIAL team, and outside hitter Lydia Fink return next season.
“I told the girls that there are 35 teams in the WPIAL in double-A, and we were one the final eight teams,” Gaston said. “I'm proud of my girls. It's a long season, and they worked hard every day.”
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.