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May 24, 2013

BOYS VOLLEYBALL: Cats, 'Dogs to battle it out for D-10 crown

MEADVILLE — Meadville is still playing like a team on fire. Saegertown is putting together a stingy defense to go along with its big hitters. And those two forces of nature will collide today at 7 p.m. at Meadville’s House of Thrills in the District 10 Class AA boys volleyball championship match.

Meadville advanced via a dominant 25-12,    25-12, 25-19 semifinal victory over a surprisingly lethargic Maplewood squad Thursday night at MASH. Afterwards, Saegertown made it to the championship by topping Cochranton in three exciting back-and-forth sets, 25-20, 27-25, 25-23.

“This is what it’s all about — District 10 volleyball — nothing can beat it,” said Saegertown senior Dustin Pavlik.

Bulldogs bully Tigers

“I didn’t have to say a word to them before the match,” said Meadville head coach Ron Newman. “They were so focused.”

Meadville, it seems, is still sporting a pretty big chip on its shoulder due to the current suspension of two of its starters, Rob Stainbrook and Tyler Minnis. And that emotional intensity was in full view last night.

“We just wanted to come out strong and put these guys away and show everyone that we can beat them without Tyler and Robbie,” said Bulldogs senior Mark Miller.

It started, as it often does with the Meadville squad, at the service line. The ’Dogs served the ball 26 times in the opening set. Five of them fell for aces. Only one of those serves missed the mark.

Matt Izbinski had the longest stay behind the line, serving up six straight points, which turned a 9-7 Bulldogs lead into a 15-7 advantage.

Meadville went on to win the set 25-12.

“Total team effort,” said Newman. “I can’t say anything more. They’re focused and they’re ready.”

The Bulldogs couldn’t keep up that quality of service the entire match. But they wouldn’t need to. Maplewood, after a stellar match against Cambridge Springs in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, was nowhere to be found in game two.

The Tigers committed 13 errors in the second game. At one point, Meadville went on an 11-point scoring run. One of those points was tip by Joe Coffee. Another was combined block by Mark Miller and Tom Leech. The other nine points were scored on attack errors by Maplewood.

“We just never got started,” said Maplewood head coach Sheila Bancroft. “I don’t have any excuses. Meadville came to play. The bottom line is we didn’t. We played well here Tuesday night. They probably played their best match of the year. And they come in here (on Thursday) and they didn’t play. We couldn’t receive, we couldn’t serve, we couldn’t hit.”

The run took a 9-7 Meadville lead and stretched it to 20-7. Maplewood wouldn’t recover, falling 25-12 in the set.

Meadville took its foot off the pedal a little in the third game, and that was a close one up until the midway point. Then Kyle Rose had a nice stretch of serves, garnering five straight points as the ’Dogs went from a 15-11 lead to a 21-11 lead.

Maplewood, led by a strong serving effort from Ryan Humes, put up a bit of a fight to keep Meadville from ending the night in three. But the ’Dogs held on for the 25-19 victory.

“We just didn’t want (Maplewood) to get back in the match once we got up,” said Miller. “The first two games we did that. The third game started out a little rough, but we put it away. We just tried to stay up the whole time, play focused.”

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