By Lisa Byers
Tuesday afternoon marked the first time in at least six years that either Cambridge Springs or Lakeview had participated in the District 10 girls volleyball tournament.
And both teams were going to do everything in their power to assure their participation didn’t end prematurely, even if that meant a couple more gray hairs added to the head of Cambridge Springs coach John Turner.
The Blue Devils and Sailors entertained a packed gymnasium in the opening round of the District 10 Class A tournament yesterday at Meadville Area Senior High’s House of Thrills with a five-game thriller. In the end, it was Cambridge Springs battling back for the 25-13, 23-25, 25-11, 12-25, 15-10 win to advance to Thursday’s semifinals.
Cambridge Springs (14-3) will face Region 1 champion West Middlesex, which earned a quarterfinal round bye, on Thursday at 6 p.m. Cochranton will face Maplewood, a 25-17, 25-15, 25-20 winner over Sharpsville yesterday, in the other Class A quarterfinal, also at 6 p.m.
“I told them, ‘I have more gray hair than I really want to have,’” first-year Cambridge Springs coach John Turner said. “I was just looking in the mirror (Monday night) and thought, ‘Man, I’m getting gray.’ They put a few more on their (last night).”
Cambridge Springs looked like it was going to roll to victory against the Sailors. The Blue Devils, with a revamped lineup that included moving middle hitter Jennae Shinsky outside, did trail 8-5 in the opening set.
But a kill by Paige Wolfrom ignited a 12-0 run by the Blue Devils that put them up 18-8 and well in control. Lakeview had other plans, however.
The Sailors and Blue Devils engaged in quite the battle in Game 2. First Cambridge Springs had a decent advanage (9-6), then Lakeview took the lead (19-15). And eventually the two team found themselves locked in a 20-20 tie.
Cambridge Springs broke the tie to take a 21-20 lead on a kill error by the Sailors, but followed with a service error and attack miscue of its own to put the Sailors back in control 22-21.
Lakeview eventually finished it off with a kill by Ashley Ray. An epic was in the making. But in the end, it was the Blue Devils that made more big plays.
Seniors Wolfrom and Shinsky and sophomore Mackayla Kurt down the stretch wound up being the difference.
“The first couple games we were burying the ball,” Turner said. “(Lakeview) adjusted well and we had a hard time adjusting ourselves. Then we started tipping a couple of times and that opened things up and shifted their defense.”
Wolfrom wound up with 20 kills. Kurt added 14 and Shinksy finished with 13. Mackenzie Turner set it all up with 41 assists.
Lakeview wraps up a remarkable season that was highlighted by its first District 10 playoff appearance since 2005.
“I was really, really nervous for (the girls) in Game 1,” Lakeview coach Lisa Herrick said. “I think they were really nervous themselves. But, honestly, they came back from that and they didn’t take no for an answer.
“They played hard. I can’t say enough about these girls. They put their heart on the line. That’s what you have to do when you play volleyball.”
Tia Ray led the Sailors (13-4) with nine kills. Rachel McKean added eight kills. Sam Riddle tallied 26 digs.
Tigers set up anticipated rematch
“Why do we have to be friends?” Maplewood coach Sheila Bancroft said following the Tigers’ sweep of Sharpsville that set up Thursday night’s semifinal showdown with Cochranton.
Maplewood and Cochranton have had a unique rivalry in girls volleyball for a number of years. The players, as well as Bancroft and Cochranton head coach Marci Malliard, are close friends. And while both teams desperately want the win, they have complete admiration for the other.
“We sort of had a feeling that opportunity would be there,” Bancroft said of the rematch. “May the best team win.
“We’ve been able to play with them; we just have to be able to finish a match with them. That’s the key.”
The Tigers had to overcome some nerves to punch their ticket to the semifinals. Bancroft said the ride from Guys Mills to Meadville was quite quiet and she could tell nerves were settling in.
“I thought, ‘Uh oh,’” Bancroft said. “Then I got to thinking last season we didn’t play in this atmosphere. We didn’t play the first night and we didn’t play in Meadville. We played our semifinal at Cochranton.
“It didn’t hit me until we were on our way in here.”
The Tigers eventually got into a groove, though, and advanced with little trouble.
“A win is a win,” Bancroft said.
Madalyn Nicols had a 13-kill, 14-dig double-double for the Tigers (11-4). Lauren Proper and Breanna Scott added five kills each. Lexie Frazier and Jessa Covine led the defense with 14 and 13 digs, respectively. Chelsey Hasbrouck tallied 22 assists.