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Lady Cats Down Saegertown, Move On To PIAA State Quarterfinals (11/06/19)

(Photos courtesy of Nate Girvan)

The Clarion Area Lady Cats are moving on to the PIAA State Volleyball quarterfinals, after defeating the Saegertown Lady Panthers 3-0, 25-18, 25-19 and 25-23 at Keystone on Tuesday (November 5th).

The Lady Cats will now face District Six Runner-up Bishop Carroll, at DuBois Central Catholic, on Saturday (November 9th), at 3:00PM. The match will be part of a double-header, with the first game being the other two West quarterfinalists, Cochranton and Northern Cambria, at 1:00PM.

Freshman Grace Ochs serving

Though the Lady Cats won the match in three sets, as they did in all their matches throughout the District Nine playoffs, this match was a bit more of a challenge. The type of a challenge Coach Campbell and her team welcomes, as it more prepares the team for the rest of the playoffs.

With Clarion up 3-2, in the first set, Korrin Burns had a kill to break serve, then Brenna Campbell had three service points moving the score to 7-2. That would be the last extended service run of the game, as each team was limited to single service points and break serves the rest of the way, with both teams showing some solid defense.

Payton Simko & Kaitlyn Constatino going for the block

Clarion’s good passing, strong defense and some great power shots on returns highlighted the Cats’ play in securing the victory. Defense was key on the evening as was on major display by Korrin Burns’ whopping twenty kills and six digs. Korrin also was big offensively, with 9 service points (2 aces).

The Lady Cats opened the second set with a service break and a two service points by Campbell, to take a 3-0 lead. With a service break and two points by Kaylee Mulligan, Saegertown knotted the score at 3-all. Aryana Girvan had a kill, followed by two service points by Burns giving Clarion a 6-3 lead.

Saegertown came back to take their only lead of the set, at 7-6, with three points by Amber Costello. The Lady Cats would regain the lead and steadily move the score up to 21-13 Cats after two points by Burns, with Aryana Girvan and Maddie Schill combining on a nice block at the net on the Burns’ second serve. Grace Ochs had a three-point run and Kait Constantino had a two point run, with Kyara Girvan and Campbell also scoring during the run.

After breaking serve, Costello had a five point service run, moving the Panthers to within two at 21-19, Clarion. But a powerful hit by Schill broke serve and with three service points by Ochs, the Lady Cats secured the 25-19 win in game two, the last point coming on a powerful cross court shot by Constantino.

Korrin Burns going for the kill

The lead changed hands a number of times, early on in the third set, with neither team having more than a one point margin, until three points by Burns, put Clarion up 15-12. The Cats were able to hold on to one to three point leads and then Kyara Girvan’s two points moved the Lady Cats to a somewhat comfortable four point lead at 21-17.

But with a service break and five service points by Mulligan, the Panthers took a two-point 23-21 lead.

With a possible game three loss staring them in the face, the Cats responded big time. After breaking service again, Campbell, Burns and company sealed the set and match victory, with Burns serving for three straight points and Burns putting the exclamation point on the win with a power shot that wouldn’t be returned.

Campbell finished with 12 points (2 aces), 23 assists, 14 digs and a kill. Ochs had 8 points (1 ace) and a dig. Kyara Girvan had 5 points (1 ace), 6 digs and two assists. Constantino scored 4 points (1 ace) and had 6 kills and ten digs.

Aryana Girvan had 5 kills and a dig, Schill had four digs, Jordan Best scored a point and Payton Simko had a kill.

Of the action at the end of the match, Campbell said, “We practice tough serving all the time and coach just wants us to execute that, even in tough situations. And Korrin going up and hitting that ball, that was a high pressure situation. She dealt with that very well.”

Campbell showed respect to Saegertown saying, “I thought they fought really well at the end, even though they were down two sets. And they were scrappy.”

Lady Cats having fun playing together

Coach Campbell mentioned the need to pushing hard throughout, “We need to work on bringing energy the whole way through. Sometimes, when you’re flashy at the beginning, you just have to work at staying the course, to bring that energy the whole way through. That’s something we’re going to work on.”

She welcomes the more extended stretch until Saturday’s match. “When you win on Saturday and turn around and play on Tuesday, that is a quick turn-around. So it will be nice to have three practices before our next opponent.”

On Brenna Campbell’s serving at the end, Coach Campbell said, “There’s nobody I’d rather have serving back there than Brenna. She’s a three year starter and she’s proven in some big matches; she’s brought us back in, she’s the one you want controlling the ball from the serving line in a situation like that.”

Of the girls ability to play balls close to the lines well. “We like to play the ball instead of letting the wood decide it for us. We’re pretty good passers. If you can hit it, play it well and trust your offense.”

What did this test do for the Lady Cats? “It’s good to win in three. It’s good to be efficient because this road is long. So being efficient with a win and winning in three, means energy later, jumping later. That’s important.”

Though it was a three-setter, the Cats were pushed more than previous playoff matches this post-season. And that helps greatly. Coach Campbell said, “We need to be pushed a little. We don’t want it to be too easy because the rest of the road is pretty tough. The West is tough. If you can make it through the meat grinder in the West, you’ve got a pretty good chance in the Finals.

“So we need to be pushed. We need to be challenged. We need to feel adversity and be able to manage it. I think we did a good job of that. So we just want to get back into the gym and settle in, do some practicing, get rid of some of the mistakes we made, work on our serving and get after our next opponent.”

The work continues. Coach Campbell mentioned, “When you move on you just keep fine tuning everything that you need to do. I thought that our offense looked good. I thought we blocked pretty well. I think we just need to focus on finishing.”

(Thanks to Nate Girvan for the photos. Good win, Lady Cats!!!! Beat the Lady Huskies!!!!)