MECHANICSBURG — The North Catholic volleyball team was down two sets to none against undefeated North Penn-Liberty Saturday in the PIAA 2A championship match.
Things were looking bleak.
It was time to regroup.
So the Trojanettes huddled up and drew on recent experience to guide them — an unpleasant one.
North Catholic was up 2-0 against Freeport in the WPIAL 2A championship match earlier this month, but lost the next three sets.
“We were like, 'This is just like Freeport,'” said senior outside hitter Dominque Felix. “We knew it was possible. Our coach (Amanda Fetter) came up to us and said, 'If you guys are gonna go out, you better go out with rainbows and glitter shooting out your butts.'”
It was just what the Trojanettes needed to hear and the match took a startling 180.
After struggling during the first two sets in 25-17 and 25-23 losses, North Catholic blew the doors off North Penn-Liberty in the next three sets — 25-16, 25-14, 15-7 — at Cumberland Valley High School to win the program's first state championship.
“They were doing a really good job keeping the ball in play (in the first two sets),” said senior Anna Schoeppner, a Seven Fields native. “They weren't necessarily scoring on us. They were keeping the ball in play and waiting for us to make a mistake.”
And early on, North Catholic made a bunch of miscues.
All that changed in the final three sets as the Trojanettes (24-1) went on the attack.
Felix began to dominate and ended with 25 kills. Ava Whitesel, a Cranberry Township native, finished with 15 kills and Libby Palmer added 10 kills for North Catholic, which asserted itself at the net and frustrated a defensive-oriented North Penn-Liberty (23-1) team.
“Games 3, 4 and 5 we figured out how to relax,” Fetter said. “We made a lot of errors in the first two games and we eliminated those. We just took an attitude of let's take it one play, one ball, one touch at a time.”
After blowing out the Mounties in the third set, the Trojanettes did the same in the fourth.
The fifth was also a no-contest.
When the last point was scored, the North Catholic team erupted in jubilation.
“When the ball dropped,” Whitesel said, “it was a moment I'll never forget.
“Losing two sets by a lot of points was really hard to come back from,” Whitesel added. “This could have been the last set we'd ever play together. This may be the last 25 points we'll ever have together, so we decided to just play our best and have fun.”
Coming back from such a deficit made the state title that much sweeter.
“It says a lot,” Schoeppner said. “It shows how much heart we have, even to just put up a fight. Throughout our whole season, we've never given up. Down two sets (Saturday) we never gave up.”