COCHRANTON — Franklin Regional’s Hannah Flick fired her serve into the back corner of the court. Her shot landed right before the line sealing the match for the Panthers. It was that kind of day for Franklin Region, who rallied to win over District 10 Class 3A champion
On Tuesday night at Cochranton High School, Franklin Regional beat Conneaut Area in four sets 28-30, 25-20, 25-23, 25-20 in the first round of the PIAA Class 3A girls volleyball playoffs.
“With this team there’s always hope,” said Conneaut head coach Christine Krankota. “Because they fight and they dig in and they make plays when they need to make plays. And they play so well together and they play so hard.
“But sometimes it’s just not your night.”
Conneaut started out great in the first set. Cassidy Snider had a few big kills to spark an 8-4 lead.
However, that 8-4 lead eventually got flipped to a 23-19 lead for Franklin Regional. Aly Kindelberger slamed home a cross-court kill leading to an Eagles timeout.
The timeout calmed down the Eagles and they rattled off five straight points to regain the lead 24-23.
Both teams traded points until Conneaut gained the edge with a kill from Ashton Andrews. A double block by Emma Stevenson and Snider gave CASH the 30-28 first set win.
“We’re strong, we’ve been through a lot this season,” said senior middle hitter Taylor Kersnick.
That rally brought a lot of cheers, however there was less to celebrate in the second set. Kindelberger got a block and Flick sent home a kill to take an 8-4 lead.
Conneaut fought hard to get back within contention, but the Panthers never gave the lead back to get a 25-20 set win to tie things 1-1.
“The main thing was our setters really spread the ball out,” said Franklin Regional head coach Mike Feorene. “Our hitters kept (Conneaut) off balance.”
In the third set, the Panthers continued to make plays. Ashley Feorene smacked a kill down the right sideline as part of a run to go up 18-12.
However, Conneaut rattled off nine straight points to regain the lead. With Kersnick serving, the Panthers became the off-balance squad missing attacks long. Kersnick aced the Panthers four times and Snider added a pair of kills in the rally.
“I don’t think I can even put into words how proud I am,” said Krankota. “It’s going to take a little while for this one to sink in. We’re obviously not ready for this season to be over.”
Franklin Regional closed the set out on a 7-2 run to take the 2-1 lead into the fourth set.
Conneaut opened up the fourth with a 9-4 run. Snider accounted for two more kills and Emily Bortnick added an ace. However, the Panthers again flipped the switch and started attacking more. The result was a 9-2 run to regain the lead 13-11.
Conneaut’s miscues piled up in the final set. A rotational violation, some miscommunication and missed passes allowed Franklin Regional to seal the match with a 25-20 fourth set win.
“We had so many errors tonight. Our passing was uncharacteristically poor,” Krankota said. “There were a number of moments where normally we would put the ball away where we just didn’t.”
In the end, Snider tallied 31 kills to lead the team. Kersnick added six and Kaylee Mattera tallied five.
Bortnick recorded 40 set assists and two aces. Kersnick accounted for nine service aces. Jamie Decker and Rylee Jones each had 17 digs.
Franklin Regional is now 18-2 and moves on to the quarterfinals to take on the WPIAL champion Knoch on Saturday.
Conneaut finishes the season at 14-4 overall with a District 10 Class 3A title.
“All the success that they realized this season is completely due to them, their attitude and their approach,” Krankota said.
“It’s definitely a great experience,” said Decker. “It kind of felt more like a family than it did anything else.”
“It’s really hard to know that that’s my last game in high school ever,” Kersnick added. “But I think our accomplishments that we made this season were really good and I’m really proud of it.”
Jordan Hansgen can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.