Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hopewell Believes, Achieves a State Title

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hopewell Believes, Achieves a State Title

Article excerpt

The long wait finally ended for the Hopewell High School girls' volleyball team.

"This is what we've talked about for 365 days, and I just can't believe we finally did it," Hopewell setter Danelle Wagner said after the Vikings captured the PIAA Class AA title on Saturday.

And as Wagner stood admiring her shinny gold medal, emblematic of a first-place finish at a PIAA championship event, she kept wondering if she would "wake up and realize it was only a dream."

Fortunately for Wagner and her Vikings teammates, this was no dream.

Believe it -- Hopewell is a PIAA champion.

"It seemed so out of reach after last year," said Wagner, referring to Hopewell's loss to eventual champion Huntingdon in the 2003 semifinals.

"It was in our grasp [last year] and we let it go. The veteran players agreed that there was no way we were going to leave with that feeling again. It's just amazing to finally reach the goal we've worked so hard to attain. We knew it was our year."

Hopewell is the first WPIAL team to win a PIAA Class AA title since the PIAA switched to three classifications in 2000.

The Vikings were almost flawless in the title match against District 3 runner-up Reading Holy Name, which was a complete turnaround from the Friday quarterfinal round robin.

"We just played Hopewell volleyball," said Vikings middle hitter Christa Harmotto, when asked what the difference was in the two matches against Holy Name. "Hopewell volleyball is communication at all times, playing smart, and taking big swings. We knew how to play them the second time around. We set up our defense to stop their big hitters."

Hopewell first met up with Holy Name in the third match of the quarterfinal round robin on Friday. The Vikings lost the first two games, 25-21, 25-19, but rallied to win game three 25-21.

"We were hoping for the rematch," Harmotto said. "But first we had to worry about Titusville. …

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