Meadville Tribune

Sports

November 2, 2012

Bulldogs, Tigers advance to championships

MEADVILLE — Tammy Webber was hopeful Meadville would learn a valuable lesson from its performance on Wednesday night, which had the Lady Bulldogs fighting for their lives in the District 10 Class AA girls volleyball quarterfinals.

That message was apparently well-received.

One night after surviving elimination against Harbor Creek in a thrilling five-set match, Meadville came together for one of its most balanced outings of the season to earn a spot in Saturday’s District 10 Class AA championship game alongside fourth-ranked Fort LeBoeuf.

The Lady Bulldogs punched their ticket, which also earns them an automatic berth to the PIAA state playoffs, on Thursday night with a 25-20, 25-15, 25-21 win over rival Conneaut at the House of Thrills.

“(Wednesday night) we didn’t play too well,” said Meadville sophomore setter Katie Newman. “(Last night) we knew we had to come and we had to play our best. We had to do what we do.

“(Wednesday) we got inside our own heads. (Last night) we played up to our potential.”

Last night’s Class AA semifinal drew a standing room only crowd at MASH’s House of Thrills, a good majority of which were dressed in blue and gray or black and red.

Meadville went into the match looking to avenge Conneaut’s three-set win back on Oct. 11, a win that earned the Eagles a share of the Region 4 championship.

Well, Meadville got the revenge it was looking for. And the ’Dogs did so behind the arms of Leah Jones and Monica Jackson.

Through the first two sets, Jones and Jackson had a combined 20 kills. They finished the match with 29. It was all set up by precise passing, solid defense and — Meadville’s bread and butter — great serves. Some of these things the Bulldogs struggled to do on Wednesday.

“I told the girls, I said, ‘You must really like to frustrate your coaches, your parents and your fans,’” Webber said. “Because that (last night’s effort) is how they are capable of playing.

“Monica and Leah carried the load, but people you didn’t expect to step up, stepped up (last night).”

Conneaut did have the lead in Game 1. A 5-0 run by Meadville, though, erased that lead and put the Bulldogs in the driver’s seat. In Game 2, the Eagles never got it going.

The Eagles did put up quite a fight in the third set. They took a 16-13 lead on a textbook kill by Challen Litwiler that had the crowd in awe. Meadville, which was without middle hitter Marcadi McCoy for much of the third set due to an ankle injury, rallied back to pull to within one (17-16) and eventually took a 21-20 lead on an ace by Jones.

Jones sealed the win with her 15th kill of the match.

“We fought to the end,” Conneaut coach Tim Schleicher said. “That’s all we ask. Come out and play tough to the end. Whatever the outcome is we expect them to play a certain way and we want to play tough every point.

“I thought we did. Meadville was the better team (last night). They played outstanding.”

The loss marks the end to Conneaut’s inaugural season.

“The first thing I told them after the match was, ‘It’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt bad right now, but I want you to, in time, look back and think about where we were in June,’” Schleicher said. “We didn’t even know each other. I told them to keep their heads up and be proud of what they accomplished because I thought they did a good job.”

Fort LeBoeuf earned a spot in the District 10 Class AA title match with a 25-11, 25-20, 25-22 win over Slippery Rock. Meadville split with Fort LeBoeuf earlier this season on its way to winning the Maplewood Tournament.

The championship match is slated to start at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Meadville Area High School.

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