Region 3 was a dogfight all season long in girls volleyball. No one expected it to be any different with two of those teams batting for the District 10 Class 1A on Saturday at Meadville Senior High School’s House of Thrills.
And it certainly wasn’t. Cochranton wound up on the top end of that fight, beating Saegertown 25-23, 27-25, 25-19 for the D-10 crown.
The Cardinals are now 14-4 on the year and will represent the District 10 as its top seed in the state tournament which begins on Tuesday. Cochranton will face District 9 runner-up Elk Co. Catholic at a site and time to be determined. Saegertown, now 12-5, also advances and will face District 9 champion Clarion on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
“They knew ahead of time Saegertown was going to come in here and battle,” Cochranton coach Marci Malliard said. “It was a good match. Both teams needed to play for sure.”
Saegertown’s run in the postseason had been a pretty remarkable one. And its start to the D-10 title match was no different.
The Lady Panthers jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the opening set against Cochranton and maintained the lead throughout, until a kill by Riley Harvey knotted it at 19-19.
Devyn Sokol deposited an overpass to give Cochranton a 20-19 lead. A kill by Maria Amory and a net violation made it a 22-19 advantage.
Saegertown did make a run with the Cardinals sitting at game point and closed the gap to one (24-23). Amory finished it, though, with her sixth kill of the set.
“Cochranton made very few mistakes today,” Saegertown coach Justin Johnson said. “We played well. We got stuck in a couple rotations and it hurt us. We dug ourselves holes in those last two sets. That first set, we could have had that one and it could have changed the whole complexion of the match.”
Saegertown nearly pulled off the same feat as Cochranton in the second set.
Like the Panthers, Cochranton jumped out to a big lead in Game 2. Riding the left arm of Amory, again, the Cardinals took a 6-1 lead.
The Cardinals maintained a pretty decent cushion until Brittany Houck stepped to the service line and made a huge impact. Houck led the Panthers on a 4-0 run to cut Cochranton’s lead to four (14-10).
Saegertown did get as close as three (15-12). But Amory continued to play strong at the net, keeping the Panthers at bay.
But then Houck, after a Saegertown kill, made her way to the service line again. She served up four straight to tie it at 24-24.
A net violation ended the run and gave Cochranton its second game point. Carmen Kantz gave the Panthers life with a kill out of the middle to tie it back up at 25. Cochranton setter Cathryn Miller went to her other hot lefty, Sokol, for a kill and game point No. 3. And a kill error by the Panthers finished off the 27-25 Cochranton win.
“When I called the timeout the one time, I said, ‘She can’t hurt us from the back row,’” Malliard said, referring to Houck. “She went on that run and that’s why I called the timeout. We couldn’t let her hurt us back there.”
Amory and Sokol were back at it in Game 3. Saegertown fought and clawed, but could never grab the lead as the Cardinals polished off the District 10 crown.
“(Amory) had a nice match and Devyn had a nice match,” Malliard said. “And I thought Cat (Miller) had a nice match. She put the ball where it needed to be and made some nice choices.”
Amory finished with 14 kills. Sokol added 12 kills. Miller dished out 31 assists and five digs. Taytum Jackson and Chelsey Freyermuth, both freshmen, had five digs each. Megan Heim tallied six kills.
For the Panthers, Houck finished with seven kills and five digs. Averie Braymer had five kills and two blocks. Kaylee Mulligan had eight kills. Amber Costello dug up seven balls. Amber Jones dished out 24 assists.