CRANBERRY TWP — It’s a quick, three-day turnaround from winning a WPIAL championship to opening the state playoffs, but North Catholic’s girls volleyball team has successfully made the transition before.
Just last year, the Trojanettes won a state championship 14 days after winning a district crown. It’s a feat they hope to accomplish again this season and the first step toward PIAA supremacy came Tuesday night in a first-round match against Greater Latrobe.
Playing in its home gym, North dispatched the Wildcats via sweep with scores of 25-23, 25-21 and 25-11.
The Trojanettes (17-2) will face Hollidaysburg, a 3-0 winner over Greencastle-Antrim, in a quarterfinal Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
Latrobe (18-2) entered the state tournament with just a single loss — to South Fayette in the WPIAL semifinals — and grabbed early momentum against North.
Kills from Lily Fenton, Emma Blair and Ryley Quinn along with Blair’s block, earned for the Wildcats an 11-4 lead in the first set.
North coach Amanda Fetter called a timeout to settle her team down.
“We needed a restart, a chance to take a breath,” she said. “We talked about what we needed to do to get back to our level.
That level is one most teams are unable to reach themselves and the Trojanettes were soon back to form. Led by six kills in the set from Ella Koziara, including one for the final point, North earned a slim victory and an early edge.
“Things worked well for us early on, but North Catholic is a great team and they countered,” said Latrobe coach Drew Vosefski. “It was a dogfight after that.”
North opened up a 9-3 lead in the second set before the Wildcats reeled off four points.
But senior outside hitter Ally Feczko led an attack for North with six kills that never let Latrobe take the lead. With the score tied at 19, Sienna Cozza served up an ace and Sydnei Jones had a timely block to give their team valuable breathing room.“
Much like the first set, Latrobe had the better of play early in the third, but rebounded and closed the match going away, winning by 14 points.
“We’re a rhythmic team,” Fetter said. “Sometimes when play is stopped and there’s a restart, it takes us a while to get going again.
“We knew they had a really good setter (Fenton) and that they like to run things through the middle. We had to defend them there.”
Koziara led North with 13 kills and Feczko had 10.
Jones allowed herself to enjoy her role in three consecutive district titles, but got down to business when she needed to.
“We won a third WPIAL championship in a row,” she exclaimed. “Not many teams can do that and I was really excited. We got in a groove tonight.”