By Lisa Byers
CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS —
From 2001 to 2006, Cambridge Springs was one of the premier girls volleyball programs in not only Crawford County, but District 10 as well. During that span, the Lady Blue Devils won a pair of District 10 titles, were two-time PIAA Class A state quarterfinalists and a PIAA state semifinalist.
The Lady Blue Devils, though, haven’t had similar success since. In fact, since 2009, Cambridge Springs has had just one winning season and hasn’t finished above .500 in the region.
The Devils, ranked fourth in the state in Class A according to the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association’s Top 10 Poll, are well on their way to seeing that all come to an end this year.
Cambridge Springs moved to a perfect 4-0 overall and established itself as a frontrunner in the Region 2 championship race with a 26-24, 20-25, 25-18, 25-20 win over Maplewood on Thursday at the Devils Den.
“I’m having a blast,” first-year Cambridge Springs head coach John Turner said. “The girls are great. You can’t ask much more.”
What’s been the difference?
“The girls’ attitude,” Turner said. “The senior leadership. They work together well. I have a couple sophomores playing, a junior playing and no one considers themselves any better than anyone else. They are all equal. They play together as a team. It’s as simple as that.”
Indeed. It’s as simple as that.
It was team play that helped push the Lady Devils, now 2-0 in Region 2, past Maplewood last night. From defense to offense, everything seemed to flow together for the Blue Devils. Four players finished the night with at least seven kills led by Paige Wolfrom’s 16.
Mackenzie Turner and Amanda Taylor did their job distributing the ball off crisp passes from libero Amanda White and defensive specialist Karmen Davis. Jennae Shinsky and Mackayla Kurt were workhorses at the net and finished with eight and seven kills, respectively, to go along with a combined seven solo blocks from the middle hitter position.
“That is the one thing we do have,” Turner said. “We have a lot of girls who can hit. We have big hitters and no one is afraid to go up and swing at the ball. As a coach that’s a dream.”
And it’s every opponents worst nightmare.
“They have a good group to work around,” Maplewood coach Sheila Bancroft said. “And they are going to be the team to beat as of right now.”
Of course, Maplewood (1-1, 1-1 Region 2) did give the Blue Devils a battle. It was Maplewood, in fact, with the early advantage, leading Game 1 18-15. Karissa Welker took an overpass and distributed it soundly on the opposite side of the net for a kill, though, igniting a 4-0 run that put the Blue Devils up 19-18.
It went back and forth from there with Cambridge Springs finally settling it on a pair of Maplewood ball handling errors. Maplewood came back strong in Game 2 to even the match at a game apiece. That’s when Cambridge’s offense took over.
Wolfrom was the key cog for the Blue Devils. The senior had five kills in the third set, including back-to-back-to-back hits that helped the Spa erase a 4-2 deficit and take a 9-6 lead. Maplewood did eventually, behind the serving of Lexie Frazier, retake the lead. But they couldn’t sustain it.
“I thought in Games 1 and 2 offensively we stuck with them and played well at the net,” Bancroft said. “Games 3 and 4 the offense went away.
“Lauren Proper was playing really good out of the middle and then when the passing game goes away you can’t get the ball to the middle and that was the key.”
Welker finished with nine kills. White had nine digs, while Davis tallied five. Turner dished out 22 assists and Taylor dished out 11.
For the Tigers, Madalyn Nicols and Proper finished with 11 kills each. Nicols also had six blocks and 11 digs. Jessa Covine had 13 digs and Frazier had 11. Alyssa Proper finished with 25 assists.