Philipsburg-Osceola’s Sophie Granville and Reese Hazelton vowed to each other that they wouldn’t feel the same pain that they felt after losing to Trinity in the 2020 PIAA Class 2A girls volleyball state championship.
After opportunities in 2021 and 2022 to make the state championship came up just a match short, Granville and Hazelton jumped into each other’s arms on Saturday and quipped about the irony — after a 3-1 (28-26, 22-25, 25-21, 25-21) victory over Trinity in the PIAA Class 2A girls volleyball state championship at Cumberland Valley.
“This is such a great feeling,” Granville said moments after winning P-O’s first state title in girls volleyball. “Since freshman year, we’ve (Granville and Hazelton) been called the ‘Dynamic Duo.’ When we were in this gym playing Trinity and we went home with a loss until now, it just feels like it came full circle. We finally came home with a W. It’s incredible with Reese by my side.”
Granville ended her volleyball career with an 11-point match and four digs. Hazelton, who will be headed to Indiana University to continue her career next season, capped off her final high school match with seven points and eight digs.
Once Hazelton’s job at Philipsburg-Osceola was done, she breathed a sigh of relief. She understood the impact of setting a high bar for the next generation of players.
“I think it all started with Kalista Butler my freshman and sophomore years,” Hazelton added. “For two years, she really started it. I think, for us, she ran the offense. She got me the balls that I needed. She helped the team get to the final four and the state finals.
“That helped a lot for us to have a standard because this program has never made it this far. We get to set a standard now, and we worked hard every day. Look at where it got us.”
Dave Eckberg has been the head coach for each of those semifinals and state finals teams. The longtime coach would never call his teams of the past “snake-bitten” or “unlucky.” But one word he had for this season’s team — “resilient.”
Eckberg shed tears of joy, as he fondly looked back on his team’s triumph.
“Just like a lot of teams, you have a lot of ups and downs in the season, but they were able to endure all of those things, weather the storms and just lean on each other to be a good team,” Eckberg said. “We talked a lot about how to be a great teammate. That’s what’s allowed us to get to this moment and on the big stage; they were calm and poised, and they stepped up.”
Just as she did during Tuesday night’s semifinals in Knox, Philipsburg-Osceola athletic director Kelly Rees sat in the stands and listened to much of the Philipsburg community chants in support of the team. Many of the Lady Mounties’ supporters were decked out in white, others in navy blue. Rees, with her now signature baseball cap, was in navy blue.
Rees’ expression was calm, but her excitement beamed through her words for what the win meant to a community that is heavily invested in the sport.
“Great to see coaches and players work together and the community backing them,” Rees said. “When you’re two hours away and (have) a great amount of people show up, it’s completely awesome to see that. It’s pretty exciting.”
With Philipsburg-Osceola’s victory, the team finished with a perfect 26-0 record. Trinity’s lone loss of the season came from the Lady Mounties, culminating in a 25-1 campaign. It was Philipsburg-Osceola’s fourth consecutive season making it to at least the state semifinals — and it was P-O’s first state title.