Meadville Tribune

Sports

May 31, 2014

No. 1 Ambridge too much for D-10 champs

SLIPPERY ROCK — The Cochranton boys volleyball team had the plan. But that plan was easier drawn up than put into action against an opponent like Ambridge, which rolled into the PIAA Class AA semifinals with a 25-20, 25-14, 25-15 sweep of the Cardinals on Saturday at Slippery Rock High School.

“Ambridge is just a really solid team,” said Cochranton head coach Brad Custead. “I can’t think of five mistakes they made the whole match. They just kept coming back at us. Every ball was coming back at us.”  

Cochranton’s season comes to a close with a record of 14-2 and a District 10 championship under its belt.

“It was a great season,” said Custead. “And that’s the worst thing; there’s always got to be a loser in every match you play, in every game you play. You get so excited for so long and then all of the sudden it comes to an end.”

His message to the boys afterward:

“Be excited. Be proud of what you did. Be proud to have brought this community together like you have, in all their sports.

“I mean, my gosh, these seniors have been incredible since they were in 5th grade. They’ve done a lot of things.”

Ambridge, meanwhile, moves on to Tuesday’s semifinal round to face Derry, the team the Bridgers defeated for the WPIAL title just a couple weeks ago. Derry defeated Schuylkill Valley in three sets yesterday.

The semifinal showdown will take place at 7 p.m. at North Allegheny High School in Wexford.

“(Derry) is a very strong team,” said Bridgers head coach Glenn Freed, whose team is now 13-1 on the year. “We had to come from behind on two of the sets that we played them. So, it is a good battle for us with them also.”

Ambridge had to play from behind against Cochranton early in the first game. Although, not by much. The opening game was a well-played, back-and-forth affair.

“I think both of us played really well,” Freed said about Game 1. “A lot of times in our matches we’d start out slow. But in this one, we started out at a high level and so did they. That’s why that one was a battle back and forth.”

With the score tied 18-18, though, Ambridge went on a four-point run to make it 22-18. And that was enough of a cushion to give them the win in the opener.  

There was little of that drama in the second set, however. Cochranton rolled out to a 2-0 lead thanks to back-to-back errors by Ambridge. However, the Bridgers went on to win 13 of the next 15 serves to claim a 13-4 lead.

“We just could never get it going,” said Custead. “We weren’t talking in the background. There was a lot of miscommunication. We just got flustered right off the bat.”

Cochranton went into the match looking to use its defense to frustrate Ambridge’s attackers. Instead, the opposite happened in Game 2.

“In that second game especially, our blocking did really well against their offense,” said Freed. “And our offense was still on from the first game. I think that was the discrepancy there.”

By the third set, the Bridgers had all the momentum, carrying the match away with a 25-15 win.  

“Everything seemed to be on in the third,” said Freed.

Ambridge’s 6-foot-5 outside hitter Lee Smith, a Penn State University recruit, ended up leading the Bridgers with 18 kills. Brandon Buck, a 6-4 St. Francis recruit, added nine kills. Setter Aaron Mueller had 25 assists.

For Cochranton, Josh Vanderhoof had six kills and eight digs. Logan Herzberger had seven digs. Chad Eisenhooth and Alex Custead notched five kills apiece. And Nick Dickson recorded 20 assists.

The Cardinal boys graduate six seniors, including Vanderhoof, Herzberger, Custead, Eisenhooth, Dickson and Tyler Buchan. The bulk of that crew played key roles in earning their school District 10 titles in both volleyball and boys basketball during the past season.

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