Frazier upsets defending state champion Freeport in WPIAL Class AA volleyball semifinals
Freeport dominated WPIAL Class AA for much of the last decade, but the Yellowjackets met their match against one of the newest teams in the classification.
Upstart Frazier, which moved up from Class A in the offseason, stunned defending PIAA champion Freeport, taking down the top-seeded Yellowjackets, 3-1, in a WPIAL Class AA semifinal Thursday at Norwin High School.
“I was heartbroken when we got moved up to Double-A, I really was,” said Frazier coach Mandy Hartman, in her 21st season with the Commodores -- the first in Class AA. “Because I thought we finally had a shot to win or at least make it to a single-A championship game, and then you had all the big names: Freeport, North Catholic.
“I told the girls you have to rise to the occasion. That’s the bottom line. And they have.”
No. 4 Frazier (19-1) advanced to the WPIAL championship for the first time since 2010, where the Commodores will face No. 2 North Catholic at 2 p.m. Saturday at Fox Chapel.
Junior Skye Eicher tallied a team-high 23 kills to go along with 15 digs and three blocks for Frazier, a WPIAL Class A semifinalist last season. Junior Sierra Twigg added 19 kills and three blocks for the Commodores, who don’t have a single senior.
“It’s awesome because I’ve never been to the WPIAL championship before. I’ve been there for track and everything, but I’ve never actually won as a team with someone to go,” Eicher said. “It’s amazing.”
Freeport (16-3), which has four WPIAL championships and three runner-up finishes since 2009, was denied its fourth consecutive trip to the WPIAL finals.
From the first set it became apparent Frazier wouldn’t make it easy for Freeport. The Commodores trailed by as many as five points and didn’t take their first lead until 22-21.
Freeport staved off three set points, and then Frazier returned the favor once before prevailing 29-27 on a combination block by Eicher and Twigg.
“I did think in my own mind -- I wouldn’t say it to them, but I thought, ‘Oh, boy, we just poked a beehive,’ ” Hartman said. “I thought watching them on film and studying them, I thought they were playing pretty consistent to what I saw the other night. I just told the girls stay loose, have fun.”
Freeport indeed responded by winning eight of the first nine points of the second set, ultimately holding off a late Frazier comeback to tie the match with a 25-22 victory.
But Frazier bounced back with a 28-26 win in another marathon third set, a Kathryn Barch ace sealing it, and then the Commodores trailed just once in a 25-18 fourth set to clinch the victory.
Eicher said a hard-fought 3-2 quarterfinal victory over Deer Lakes paid dividends for Frazier on Thursday.
“We had to work our butts off to be able to play to their level and even be better than them,” she said.
Despite Thursday’s loss, Freeport still qualifies for the PIAA Class AA tournament, which begins Tuesday. Ally DeJidas had a team-high 14 kills for the Yellowjackets, while Isabella Russo added 11.