There were two things Maplewood coach Sheila Bancroft knew for certain going into the Lady Tigers’ District 10 Class 2A title match against Corry on Saturday.
For one, Corry senior outside hitter Maddi Vona was going to get her kills. Secondly, the Tigers were going to have to limit their errors.
“We need to limit our mistakes,” Bancroft said following the Tigers’ win over Fairview in the District 10 semifinals on Thursday.
When all was said and done yesterday afternoon, Vona got her kills — like expected — and Maplewood made too many mistakes.
Corry avenged a pair of regular season losses to the Tigers with a 25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 25-16 win at Meadville High School’s House of Thrills to capture the District 10 Class 2A championship for the fourth year in a row.
“When I talked to the Corry paper on Thursday after the match, he asked what the keys to the match were,” Corry coach Kelly Goodsel said. “I said, ‘What it comes down to is our young players stepping up and playing versus their young players.
“When we played (Maplewood) at their place and our place, our young players, Rachel Brady and couple other kids, played really well, but they moments of a meltdown — four points in a row. Tonight, we still had an ace here or an ace there, or a mistake here or a mistake there. But we limited them. You can write six pages on Maddi. You can write five pages on Meg (Goodsel). But the difference was the steady play of Brady, Tayler Elchynski, Miranda Nickerson.”
Corry simply didn’t make mistakes.
“We needed everyone to play,” Bancroft said. “Bottom line. We needed to be balanced and not rely on one or two people. It might have been a little job, but everyone had to do their job and we didn’t do that.”
Vona had the Beavers out front early. But the Tigers rallied back and took a 9-7 lead in the opening set. Maplewood maintained the lead, extending it to as many as five (17-12) when the Beavers mounted a comeback.
Corry went on a 9-0 run to take a 21-18 lead. Brady had a block and kill during that run. Goodsel had a pair of aces. Maplewood did come back to tie it at 21-21 when one of its freshman, Sadie Thomas, put down a block. A kill by Nickerson followed by a block and then a kill by Brady ended it with Corry holding on for the 25-21 win.
“We had it,” Bancroft said. “One bad rotation. That’s when you need one of your three players offensively to put a ball away and no one could put a ball away.”
Maplewood had to rally late in the second set as well. Three straight attack errors put the Beavers up 5-1 in the game and Corry kept the pedal down, leading by as many as six (16-10). Service errors on back-to-back possessions pulled the Tigers to within two (21-19). Maggie Thomas put down a kill and Corry was whistled for a ball handling mistake as Maplewood tied the score at 21-21.
Corry retook the lead on a kill by Vona, but Maplewood won four of the next five points to even the match at a set apiece.
Maplewood had another late rally fall short in the fourth set. In Game 4, Corry took the lead early and Maplewood couldn’t recover.
“Some key things at key moments in the game,” Bancroft said. “I think we forgot what we wanted to do with it and we didn’t make those big plays. I think it was a pivotal time in Game 3, we had some opportunities there and we didn’t take advantage of it.
“We knew coming in it was going to be a tight match either way and in tight matches you have to continue to make good decisions. We didn’t do it and we didn’t all play our ‘A’ game. And you have to against a team like Corry.”
Maplewood ends its season at 14-3.
Corry moves to 15-2. The Beavers will open state tournament play on Tuesday against WPIAL runner-up North Catholic.
Vona finished with 21 kills and 13 digs for the Beavers, while Brady added 15 kills. Lindsey Mitchell had 31 digs. Goodsel put up 33 assists.
For Maplewood, Maggie Thomas had 17 kills. Chloe Leech added 12 kills and seven digs. Sadie Thomas had nine kills and three aces. Maddie Woge had 19 digs. Bailey Varndell dished out 39 assists.