By Drew Karpen
Any thoughts of the Meadville girls volleyball team coming out with a hangover in the state playoffs following its District 10 championship loss to Fort LeBoeuf were put to rest Tuesday night during its overpowering straight-set victory over Somerset in the PIAA Class AA playoffs at Shanksville-Stonycreek High School.
“I am very happy,” Meadville’s Leah Jones said. “We were pretty prepared and we went into this with a great mindset.”
The 25-21, 25-19, 25-15 win was highlighted by Jones, who had 12 kills in the match, all of which could have made a dent in a concrete wall. Jones also added 15 digs to her stat sheet on the night.
The Bulldogs were shaking off some rest early in the first set, falling behind 5-2. After Cadi McCoy hit the ball into the net on a kill attempt, Monica Jackson delivered on a kill to set up a rally for the Bulldogs.
Jackson would continue her hot streak from the service line, leading Meadville on a 6-0 run that gave the Bulldogs a lead they would not relinquish. A key part of the run was three kills by Jones.
Jones, Jackson and McCoy were key attributes to maintaining the lead throughout the set.
Jackson finished the set for the Bulldogs, placing a perfect touch pass over the front line, landing amongst the Golden Eagles defenders.
Much was the same in the second set for the Bulldogs.
After getting out to an early lead, Meadville never looked at Somerset in the rear view mirror. Meadville would take a 13-9 lead halfway through the set on an ace by Mylinda Hartnett. With the momentum at fully in Meadville’s favor, Somerset coach Alix Rios was forced to call a timeout.
The stoppage in play did not slow the Bulldogs down. Jones and Jackson continued their dominance, giving Meadville another set point at 24-19. This time, Somerset would shoot themselves in the foot, hitting the ball out of bounds for the match.
Up 2-0, Meadville could smell the victory. The Golden Eagles jumped out to an early 4-2 lead but would not have much to celebrate after that. McCoy converted on back-to-back kills to tie the game. On the very next point, the Bulldogs took the lead, the final one they would need for the game.
Although it may have seemed like a true road game for the Bulldogs, they certainly enjoyed the friendly bounces they received.
“It was definitely a road game,” Meadville coach Tammy Webber said. “The crowd looked like it would factor into it, but it really wasn’t a factor. It was a quiet crowd. We are used to playing in loud and crazy situations.”
During the third set, McCoy and Hartnett both hit the top of the net, only to see the ball trickle onto the Golden Eagles' side of the floor.
The tough night got even tougher for Somerset during match point. After prolonging defeat twice, the Golden Eagles sealed the loss after a miscommunication between players sent the ball into the crowd.
Along with Jones, Jackson had a stellar game for the Bulldogs with nine kills, 15 digs, two blocks and three aces. McCoy added six kills, four blocks and two aces. Katie Newman led the team with 23 assists.
Meadville will look to continue its season against Mars in the PIAA quarterfinals on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Sharpsville High School.
“We are just going to keep practicing,” Jones said. “Work on a couple things, make some adjustments on whatever we need to and go in even harder next time.”