The Elk County Catholic Lady Crusaders volleyball squad finished second in the District 9-A Volleyball Tournament held on Saturday at the St. Marys Area High School’s “Dutch Oven” to earn a spot in the PIAA Regional Tournament on Saturday. The Lady Crusaders, who will be competing in Pool C, will be the No. 2 team out of District Nine and will play at Clarion High School on Saturday against the District 6 and 10 champions, along with the WPIAL runner-up.
Clarion High School, which won the District 9-A title, will advance to the PIAA Regional Tournament in Pool D, which will be held at Slippery Rock University. Other teams in Pool D are the WPIAL Champion (District 7), the WPIAL third-seeded team, and the District 10 No. 2 seed.
Clarion High, the top-seeded team in the state, but only the third-seeded team in District 9, won its third title in four years, defeating the second-seeded Oswayo Valley Green Wave 3 to 1 (25-14, 17-25 and 25-14) in their opening match, then upending the top-seeded Elk Catholic Lady Crusaders 2-0 (25-20 and 25-20). In their final match of the day, they secured the championship by defeating the Johnsonburg Ramettes 2-0 (25-16 and 25-14).
The second-place Elk County Catholic squad opened the tournament with a 2-0 victory over the Johnsonburg Ramettes, then rebounded from the Clarion loss to beat the Oswayo Valley girls 2-0 in their final match to finish the day with a 2-1 mark.
“We were finally able to put together a good day at Districts in the pool play,” said Coach Diane Gies of the Lady Crusaders. “This marks the first time that we were able to make it out of the District since I took over as the coach. This was a big day for our team and our program, as it all started last year at this same time when we lost to Redbank Valley, who ended up going to Regionals. The team decided at that time that they wanted to be in the finals this season for a chance to advance on to Regional.”
“I felt we played pretty well against Clarion, which has an awesome squad,” added Gies. “We made a few mistakes, but without those it could have been an even tighter match. Even though we lost to Clarion, we advanced to Regionals and still have a lot of volleyball left to play, as we can still reach states with a good performance next Saturday. I feel the girls showed their mental toughness with the way they came back and played against Oswayo Valley after losing a tough match to the Clarion girls.”
The day opened with the Clarion Lady Bobcats taking on the Oswayo Valley girls. Clarion took the first game of the best-of-three series by a 25-24 score, then lost 17-25, before rebounding to take the third game and the match 25-14.
The second match of the day was Elk Catholic against Johnsonburg. The Lady Crusaders won the match 2-0. In the first game, they defeated Johnsonburg 25-19. In this game, the Lady Crusaders never trailed, although the Ramettes tied the game up twice before Elk was able to close them out. In the second game, the two teams battled evenly during the early part, with the Ramettes taking a 19-17 lead later in the game. Johnsonburg made it 20-17, then the Lady Crusaders battled back to take a 22-21 lead and eventually won the game by a 25-21 score.
Match three found the Johnsonburg Ramettes taking on the Oswayo Valley girls. In this match, the Ramettes took the opening game 25-19, with Oswayo Valley grabbing the second game 25-18. Johnsonburg took the third game by a 25-15 score to run their record to 1-1, while Oswayo Valley fell to 0-2.
The fourth match of the tournament was the best of the day, with a battle between Clarion and Elk Catholic. The Clarion girls won the opening game by a 25-20 score. In this game, the match was close until Clarion took a 20-15 lead late in the game. The Lady Cats were able to hold on to win 25-20 and take a 1-0 advantage in the match. Game two found the Clarion players moving out to a 10-4 lead, only to have the Lady Crusaders battle back to cut the lead to 16-15. The two teams exchanged points, making it 17-16 and 18-17 before the Lady Cats took 20-18 and 21-19, and 23-20 leads. The Lady Cats went on to win 25-20 to push their record to 2-0 and drop Elk County to 1-1.
The fifth match of the day found Clarion defeating Johnsonburg 25-26 and 25-14 to lock up the championship with a 3-0 mark.
In the final match of the day, Elk Catholic secured the second-place finish, defeating the Oswayo Valley girls 25-12 in the first game, which they led from start to finish. In the second game, the Lady Crusaders fell behind 9-7 and 16-15, but rallied to pull the game out by a 25-18 score to finish the tournament with a 2-1 record, good enough for second place.
The Lady Crusaders were led in kills by Lexie Meholic with 28 on the day. She also had five service points, with one ace. Taylor Frank racked up 17 kills and 12 blocks. Emily Gregory had 14 kills and 32 service points, with two aces. Taylor Schlimm had six kills, 11 service points and two aces. Taylor DaCanal had three kills and Helen Danz two kills. Anna Hawkins had 11 service points and one ace and Jessie McLaughlin had seven service points.
“I am excited to see what will happen at Regionals and I’m really proud of the way the girls played today,” added Gies.
The top two teams from the Regional Pools will advance to the State quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 19 at Central York High School. The semifinals and finals will be held at Central York High School on Saturday, Nov. 20.