Franklin Volleyball Team Plays Well Despite Losing 3-0 to Keystone in Season Debut

| August 30, 2022

KNOX, Pa. (EYT) – The scoreboard said the Franklin volleyball team was swept.

But Knights’ coach Matt Jones was still pleased with how his team performed, even in a 25-21, 25-22, 25-23 loss to defending District 9 Class 2A champion Keystone on Monday night.

“We knew we were up against a good team and we played even with them a lot,” Jones said. “We just had little stretches, like right at the beginning of the first game and right in the middle of the third game, where we struggled a little bit. But we did some good stuff tonight.”

It was a sweep, bit it certainly wasn’t an easy one for Keystone.

Franklin made things tough.

Keystone jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first set before Franklin eventually closed to 14-13 after a kill by senior outside hitter Sydni Hoobler, who had eight in the match.

The Panthers went on another run to push the lead back to 19-13 and cruised to the 25-21 win.

The second set was more of the same. After trading points in the first part of the set, the Panthers went on another pivotal spurt to lead 20-15 on the way to a 25-22 win in the set No. 2.

Franklin finally got its first lead of the match in the third set and was up 15-9 at one point before Keystone stormed back. The Panthers first lead of that set came at 18-17 following an ace by Leah Exley, who led the team with 10 kills and four aces.

Natalie Bowser closed out the match with a kill and a 25-23 third-set triumph.

Franklin also had its problems on serve-receive at times.

Part of the reason for that is the strength of Keystone’s servers.

The Panthers had 10 aces in the match.

“They have some power servers,” Jones said. “We were on our heels a little bit trying to pass. We played them pretty tough. We’re a little disappointed because we thought we could come out with maybe a set or two. One thing happens differently here or there and maybe we win 25-23 in a couple of them.”

Franklin libero Gabby LaJeunesse had a big night with 35 digs.

“We started out strong serving, but in the third game we had a little bit of trouble,” said Keystone coach Bryan Mong said. “We’ve worked a lot on placement and they have a great libero. I was telling them, ‘We need to get it to the left or the right; she’s putting them up.’

“We played summer league (with Franklin) and I’ve seen improvement from them just from summer until now,” Mong added. “Hats off to them.”

Franklin has been building in recent years.

Most of the roster now is made up of juniors and seniors. The Knights want to make a run at the District 10 Region 3 elite.

“We were a young team two years ago and now we’re an older team,” Jones said. “I think we’re bigger, faster, stronger. We’re more skilled and the kids have put a ton of time in the gym. And now we’ve just got to start believing in ourselves when we step on the floor. We have to say, ‘Hey, we’re here to play volleyball.’ I think once the kids start to get a little more confident and come out and take care of business, I think we’re going to be a little more successful.”

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