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State tournament looms for Freeport

| Friday, Nov. 12, 2010

Freeport girls volleyball coach Tom Phillips warned his players not to stay out too late tonight after the school's quarterfinal-round football playoff game.

Phillips' team has its own postseason business to take care of early Saturday morning.

Freeport (19-0), one week removed from its first WPIAL Class AA championship, will begin its quest for a PIAA title tomorrow at North Hills High School. It will compete with three other teams in a pool-play format for two spots in the PIAA quarterfinals. Each match is best-of-three-games.

"The big thing that I stress to these girls is every game means something, every point means something," Phillips said. "When you're playing in pool play, it's like a tournament. There's plus-minus and point differentials and a lot of determining factors. So you've got to play the good teams well, and you have to play the bad teams well. ... Teams that you're up on, you've got to jump on them quick. Don't play with teams just to get a match going."

The other teams in Freeport's pool are West Allegheny — the WPIAL third-place finisher — City League champion Peabody and District 10 runner-up Fort Leboeuf.

Phillips said he did not know much about the latter two squads. He watched West Allegheny defeat Hopewell in the WPIAL Class AA consolation match last weekend.

Freeport lost to West Allegheny in the WPIAL title match a year ago, but Phillips dismissed the suggestion that last season's result might influence tomorrow's meeting.

"I know West A definitely is a good, solid program, and they'll give us a lot of challenges," he said. "But I don't know that it's any type of grudge match. I really don't think that's ever played into it."

Phillips said he considers keeping his team sharp the top priority. Preparing for and dealing with tomorrow's opponents as well as future PIAA challengers comes down to short-notice adjustments and execution.

"I think a lot of times you're going to be facing teams that you don't know anything about," he said. "A lot of teams, they can have aggressive jump servers or float servers or serve deep or serve short. I think the biggest thing you need to work on is passing and a lot of basics."

Freeport has thrived in tournament-style competitions. The Yellowjackets won the 20-team Slippery Rock tournament and also took first in their own tournament, an eight-team affair.

Freeport will be short one contributing member: Sophomore middle hitter Lauren Frazetta broke her hand midway through the WPIAL title match.

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