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May 13, 2014

Cardinals win crucial four-game set over Blue Devils

CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — It’s the final week of the regular season for boys volleyball. And entering Tuesday night, there was still plenty left to play for.

For a good portion of last night’s match against Cambridge Springs and Cochranton, though, those opportunities far outweighed the intensity. But with a fifth and deciding set on the line, that all changed.

With the decibels cranked up to near deafening levels inside the Cambridge Springs High School gymnasium, Cochranton managed to withstand a fierce rally by the Blue Devils in the fourth set on its way to a crucial 22-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-23 win in Region 1 volleyball action.

Cochranton locked up the No. 2 seed in the upcoming District 10 Class AA boys volleyball tournament with the win. The Cardinals, who still have a match remaining with Maplewood on Thursday, improved to 10-1 overall and 7-1 in Region 1.

Cambridge Springs finishes the regular season at 8-4 overall and 6-3 in the region and will be the No. 3 seed at districts.

Judging by the last few rotations in Game 4, districts could and should be quite exciting.

“I don’t even know what’s going to happen next week,” Cochranton coach Brad Custead said. “It’s all going to come down to who’s ready to play.

“Fort LeBoeuf is stepping up and playing and beating some teams. Saegertown is there … us, Cambridge. It’s going to be a battle. Meadville can really play when they get down and dirty. I wouldn’t even want to take a guess as to what’s going to happen next week.

“I hope we are there in the end. If we step it up and play like we need to play, we’ll be there.”

Neither Cambridge Springs nor Cochranton played to their capabilities last night and intensity — or lack thereof — was a key component.

“We could never get firing on all cylinders,” Custead said. “We were just flat out there the whole time. Right at the end we got a little fired up when the fans started getting into it, but we were just flat.”

It was Custead that got the fans going on both sides.

Cochranton had taken a 19-17 lead in Game 4 when Cambridge Springs’ outside hitter Tyler Fiely approached the referee to point out that the Blue Devils had attempted to call a timeout prior to the serve. Following a conference with the other official, the referee signaled to replay the point. Custead argued the decision and was given a red card. The swing in points resulted in an 18-18 tie.

Match on.

Every point from there on out was met with exuberance by fans, players and coaches with the Cards drawing the loudest cheers when Nick Dickson put down a kill for the final point and a 25-23 win.

“That’s when they decided to finally start playing,” Custead said. “Even the fans weren’t really into it until that point. It takes everyone. It takes the kid sitting on the bench, the kids out on the court and the fans to play a top notch game. That’s what the fans want to see. They don’t want to see a flat and mellow game.

“They want to see a good intense game. This game was that at points, but I don’t think either of us played at our top performance.”

For Cambridge Springs, it was a matter of giving up significant leads again.

The Devils opened up a 6-1 lead in the opening set and wound up having to hang on in the end to win the game. In Game 3, the Devils, again, jumped out to a signifcant lead, this time 7-1. A 9-3 run erased that advantage, though, knotting the score at 10-10.

“Our kids played fairly well I thought for the most part,” Cambridge Springs coach Rick Welker said. “But we did our old giving up runs of points again. We’ve done that all year long and it’s always cost us, because then you have to fight back.”

Logan Herzberger paced the Cardinals with a 13-kill, 21-dig double-double. Connor Staudt added eight kills and eight blocks. Josh Vanderhoof tallied eight kills, Chad Eisenhooth seven kills, Tyler Buchan 11 digs, Alex Custead eight blocks and Dickson 43 assists.

For the Blue Devils, Fiely had 12 kills, Alex Mailliard added six kills and three blocks. Devin Walker had five kills and seven blocks. Jarred Ferris dished out 29 assists.

The top four seeds in the District 10 tournament are locked up. Saegertown is the Region 1 champion and is the No. 1 seed, followed by Cochranton, Cambridge Springs and Meadville, respectively. Fort LeBoeuf, Farrell, Maplewood and Conneaut are battling for position for the final four seeds. Rocky Grove has been eliminated from postseason contention.

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