Freeport volleyball team remains unbeaten
With a high-profile nonsection win, Freeport bolstered its claim to being one of the teams to beat in Class AA.
The Yellowjackets, the first-place team in Section 4, picked up a 3-0 win over Section 6 leader Seton-La Salle on their home floor in a possible preview of a late-round playoff matchup.
Freeport (8-0) got 14 kills from senior Alexis Schrecengost on the way to winning 25-19, 25-21 and 25-23. Zoe Pawlak added 12 kills for the Yellowjackets, and Seton-La Salle (9-1) was led by Toni Torchia, who had eight kills.
“We were ready for this match, and we wanted it to become a playoff atmosphere,” Schrecengost said. “I couldn't be more happy to play a match against someone up to our level, and it was just an amazing match.”
In front of a full student section, complete with the pep band, Freeport held off every challenge the Rebels were able to pose. Seton-La Salle had an early lead in all three sets, but each time the Yellowjackets were able to chip away.
The second set required the biggest move from Freeport, which trailed 16-11. Schrecengost got her team rolling with back-to-back kills, but it was a pair of good finishes by middle hitters Jess Kelley and Morgan Ruppersberger that brought the Yellowjackets back to a 19-19 tie.
Karlie Hill then chipped in with a pair of well-placed shots before Freeport went back to one of its stars on the outside. Pawlak ended the set with a powerful shot down the middle of the court.
“We definitely learned about teamwork and trust (in the match),” Schrecengost said. “You have to trust that the girl next to you has got your ball, and that they've got your back out there. When I was swinging outside, I knew that (libero) Brittney Bianco had my back, and as a team, we know we can trust each other, no matter what.”
Freeport made its comebacks in the second and third sets, when it trailed 17-15, mostly by working things out on the court. Coach Tom Phillips did not use a timeout until the final points of the third and let his leaders on the court take charge.
“I tell them all the time, good teams find ways to win. They scratch, they claw, they do what they have to do,” Phillips said. “I told them I wasn't going to call a timeout unless I really felt I had to, but I wanted to see them play through some adversity. I think the biggest thing is having faith in your players and knowing what you've got.”
Though the Rebels were unable to take a game from Freeport, they also got the experience they were hoping for in the nonsection meeting. Seton-La Salle coach Kevin Hummert said he was pleased with his team's first outing against a presumptive top seed in the WPIAL playoffs.
“It's nice to be able to come out here and play, and if that's the No. 1 team in the WPIAL, it's good to compete with them on a point-for-point basis,” Hummert said. “It lets us see two of the best players in (Schrecengost) and Zoe, and that prepares us for when we get to the playoffs.”