Knoch, Freeport volleyball series had plenty of drama
By D.j. Vasil
Published: Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
WPIAL section realignment brought the Freeport and Knoch girls volleyball programs together two years ago. It also helped to form one of the most heated and competitive rivalries in Class AA.
Known for having successful teams year in and year out, Freeport swept the season series with Knoch last year, but this year a different chapter was written in the rivalry.
Freeport took the first meeting in dominating fashion, winning 3-0 at home. Knoch, however, promptly answered when Freeport traveled to Knoch later in the year, securing a thrilling 3-2 victory.
Led by Eastern Kentucky University recruit Celina Sanks, Knoch was able to share the Section 4-AA title with Freeport and later grab a No. 6 seed in the WPIAL playoffs. Freeport was No. 2 but went on to win its second WPIAL title.
“I'm happy to see Celina graduate,” Freeport coach Tom Phillips said jokingly. “The last couple of years she's been the main cause for Knoch. I wish her well, but I'll be happy to walk into the gym and not see her playing against me.”
When the playoff brackets were released, there was a strong possibility that Freeport and Knoch could meet a third time. And they did. Poised not to let Knoch, well, knock them out of the playoffs, the Yellowjackets came out on top, 3-2, in the semifinals.
“I think we exerted a lot of energy to win our quarterfinal game against Thomas Jefferson,” Knoch coach Diane Geist said. “We weren't quite as strong as we needed to be. Even so, we took the second and third games. In the fourth game, we showed a crack and Freeport picked up on it.”
Phillips and his team didn't let the thought of facing Knoch in the semifinals go unnoticed. The intensity and energy got a lot stronger for Freeport.
“I knew that Thomas Jefferson was a good team,” Phillips said. Obviously, TJ was a No. 3 seed, they had been strong all year. I felt that Knoch was a better team. I wasn't surprised to see Knoch beat them.”
Freeport and Knoch didn't get a chance to meet in the state playoffs, however. Knoch fell in the PIAA first round, and Freeport was ousted in the quarterfinals.
The rivalry also has a psychological side to it. At first, it seemed like Freeport could be heading down the same path as last year's team when it got caught looking ahead to potentially facing section foe Mars, and lost to Ambridge. Freeport was determined not to let that happen again.
“People wanted to talk with me way before it happened,” Phillips said. “People wanted to talk about the potential of a rematch. I tried to maintain our focus so we didn't look ahead.”
The students from each school even got involved in the rivalry. Each school's student section packed the stands at their respective home courts.
Knoch will be losing a lot of leadership next year as it will graduate 10 seniors. Despite that fact, Geist hopes that Knoch and Freeport remain section foes during the next WPIAL realignment.
“Every year is different, and you go through cycles,” Geist said. “We just happened to have this group that's been together since middle school. It's tough to lose that group. It will be tough next year. Our goals next year will be different than our goals this year.”
D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 4 dead in ‘horrific’ Armstrong County crash
- Kovacevic: Bylsma’s moves — yes, moves — pay off
- U.S. attorney seeks plan for reducing heroin overdoses
- Group wants Consol to adhere to terms of Greene County mining permit
- Police see no sign Franklin Regional stabbing suspect was bullied
- Former Pitt captain Cavanaugh blazes trail as entrepreneur
- Penguins rally to escape with a victory in Game 1 against Columbus
- Authorities investigating skeletal remains found in Ohio River in Avalon
- Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions
- South Fayette parents express dissatisfaction with handling of bullying
- Bishop Zubik urges Catholics to evangelize