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Knoch nearly rebounds from deep deficit

| Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007

JEFFERSON -- Knoch's girls volleyball players did a jig and chant for several minutes in the corner of the gym before their WPIAL playoff game last night.

On the court, it took a while for the Lady Knights to get in step, but they still almost danced away with a win.

Knoch generated a heart-thumping rally, but Montour held on to edge the Lady Knights, 3-2, in a marathon match in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs at Knoch High School.

Knoch rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the match, 4-4, before losing the final set. The game scores were 25-22, 25-13, 24-26, 20-25, 15-11.

Trailing, 2-0, and losing, 21-16, in the third set, Knoch appeared to be headed toward an early exit from the match. But the Lady Knights came back and beat Montour in the third set.

Knoch won a see-saw fourth set, and the momentum seemed to have swung in its direction. But Montour stopped Knoch's charge in the fifth set and pulled off the upset.

Knoch, the No. 6 seed, finished with a 16-2 record. No. 11 Montour improved to 12-3 and advanced to play No. 3 Hopewell in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals.

"I'm glad to be in a marathon match rather than lose in three sets," Knoch coach Diane Geist said. "It shows their heart the way they came back. I'm proud of my girls."

In the third set, Knoch changed its lineup in an effort to reverse the course of the match.

Michelle Steinmiller took over at libero, or defensive specialist, in the last three games. Starting libero Liz Ogershok moved to setter, and Kirsten Brant moved from setter to opposite-side hitter.

"They really wanted to win this game," Geist said. "We switched our lineup to get a spark, and it was working."

For Knoch, Zoe Hughes collected seven kills and seven service points, Elizabeth Hill had 12 service points and three kills, and Brant added 12 service points.

"They're tough," Montour coach Brendon Aleski said of Knoch. "They made a lot of plays and kept a lot of balls alive. They persevered. I understand they have a lot of seniors, and that leadership showed."

In fact, Knoch will graduate 12 seniors and all but one starter from the team that tied Mars for the Section 2-AA title. Knoch had made the WPIAL playoffs every season since 2001 but has not celebrated a postseason win since 2003.

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