EDINBORO — It is not news that the Meadville girls volleyball team’s success revolves around its performance at the service line. It’s also not news that Lucy Smith is clutch at the net when the Lady Bulldogs need some big points.
But one thing the Lady Bulldogs haven’t really been known for is the solid play of their middle hitters when they are not up front attacking and blocking. On Thursday night, Meadville showed it has that in its arsenal as well.
Meadville sophomore middle hitter Kasey Smith had herself a night. The Bulldogs scored 28 points with Smith on serve, including 10 via aces, as they went on to beat Harbor Creek 25-18, 25-22, 22-25, 25-15 in the District 10 Class 3A semifinals at General McLane High School.
Meadville is now 10-6 and advances to face Crawford County rival Conneaut Area in the D-10 title match on Saturday at a site and time yet to be announced. Harbor Creek ends its season at 16-4.
“I’m so excited,” Meadville senior outside hitter Hannah Parks said. “We play really good when we play CASH. It’s unreal. It’s a really good matchup between Cass (Snider) and Mia (Soerensen). It will be good.”
The Lady Bulldogs had quite the ride to get there.
Kasey Smith didn’t take long to make her impact on the match. She stepped to the line with a 1-0 lead in the opening set and rattled off nine straight points — three on aces — to put Meadville up 10-0. Any nerves the Bulldogs were feeling entering the match were well gone.
The lead proved to be huge. Harbor Creek went on to outscored the Bulldogs 18-15.
“(Kasey Smith) ran a ton of points tonight,” Meadville coach Tim Schleicher said. “It was huge starting a match off like that. She did a good job. And we’ve been working really hard with them on those back row skills. Serving is the first one and then digging balls. I thought she did a great job of getting us started there and she dug and passed a lot of balls when she was back there.”
Kasey Smith came up particularly big in the second set.
The Huskies — with middle hitter Julie Kruszewski commanding the net — led 22-18 in Game 2. A kill by Lucy Smith, however, marked the beginning of the end for the Harbor Creek in the set as it put none other than Kasey Smith back on serve.
Smith served up an ace to get things started. After back-to-back attack errors by the Huskies, she added yet another ace to give Meadville a 23-22 lead. Jordan Graham perfectly placed a dig on the other side of the net and Soerensen finished with a block to give Meadville a two-set advantage.
“We’re working really hard to bring each other up as a team,” Parks said. “When you have teams that are matched with pretty even talent, it brings out the best in your team.”
Harbor Creek didn’t let the Bulldogs finish their rally in the third set. The Huskies led 12-3 in the game. But as Meadville did all night long, it refused to go down easy and eventually rallied to tie the game at 18-18. A couple of ball handling errors prevented Meadville from snatching the lead and Harbor Creek held on for a 25-22 win to force a fourth set.
And just like in Game 1, Kasey Smith helped the Bulldogs get it done in Game 4 by leading them to a big advantage right out of the gate. Harbor Creek took the initial lead on a block by Meghan Fitzgerald. A kill by Kasey Smith gave the ball back to Meadville and Smith went back and served up five straight to put Meadville ahead 6-1.
What followed was a dominant performance by Soerensen, who was also huge defensively in the back court like Smith, at the net. Harbor Creek had no answer.
“They hung in there,” Schleicher said. “(Harbor Creek is) a very good team. When they were in system, they really stressed us out defensively. They really moved the ball around. We made a couple little adjustments and I think it helped us out a little bit. We got to some more balls.”
Soerensen finished with 16 kills with just one error. She also had 11 digs and five blocks. Lucy Smith finished with 10 kills and 14 digs. Graham had seven kills and 15 digs. Jillian Decker dished out 35 assists and dug up 11 balls. Parks finished with 15 digs.
“Hannah Parks made a huge difference for us tonight,” Schleicher said. “Digging that right back … She did a nice job digging up some balls that we got tooled on. Huge. Hannah had a huge night.”
Kruszewski had 19 kills for