Knoch wants to win at PIAAs for setter Fitzpatrick

December 3, 2018

Kerrie Fitzpatrick grew up watching her older sisters, Kaley and Kara, play volleyball at Knoch, so she’s been around the program and the sport most of her life.

“My whole family plays, so I’ve been playing volleyball since I could hold a ball,” Fitzpatrick said.

As the Knights’ lone senior, she has provided guidance along with her duties as the team’s setter.

After successfully defending their WPIAL title last week, the team would love to send Fitzpatrick out as a two-time state champion.

“She’s the glue that holds the team together,” Knoch coach Diane Geist said. “Without her, we don’t get this far. We are not here. Everybody respects her on this team, and they want to do this for her.”

Knoch (23-0) plays Dover (16-7), the third-place team in District 3, in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Hollidaysburg.

Fitzpatrick had a sense she would become a setter because her sister Kaley set for the Knights in 2012-13. Kara was defensive specialist who played in 2012.

“Since (Kaley) was a setter, I was kind of pinpointed as one too from the beginning, but I enjoy it,” Fitzpatrick said. “I like being a part of every play. I don’t like watching.”

Said junior hitter Hannah Rowe: “We have a very good relationship, and it’s a great thing to have a strong bond with your setter. Kerrie does a great job with knowing how we all like our sets. Whatever position we’re playing, she always gets them right.”

Earlier this season, junior hitter Kennedy Christy discussed the importance of trust between a setter and a hitter, and a good example came in Knoch’s 3-1 win over Elizabeth Forward in the PIAA first round Tuesday. Fitzpatrick set up Christy for a couple of critical kills that staved off set point in the fourth set before the Knights finished off a 29-27 win to clinch the match.

“It’s good to know you’re setter trusts you, because if she trusts you she knows she can give you the ball in crucial situations,” Christy said. “That’s a good feeling.”

Like many of Knoch’s players, Fitzpatrick has proved to be versatile. She plays in the back row when rotated there and had a couple of aces in the win over Elizabeth Forward.

The biggest addition to her repertoire has been embracing a hitting role after a tweak by Geist late in the season put her at outside hitter once in the rotation. She had back-to-back kills in the third set Tuesday while navigating a difficult block from Elizabeth Forward’s 6-foot-1 duo of Kaitlin Fournier and Brianna Spirnok. That yielded a 25-12 win, and Fitzpatrick had three kills in the WPIAL championship victory over Thomas Jefferson.

The change allowed Rowe to play middle and outside, which has helped Knoch’s blocking. It also has allowed sophomore setters Morgan Jack and Morgan Frishkorn more court time.

“Kerrie is a smart hitter,” Geist said. “She may not always get kills, but she’s not going to hurt you, either.”

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