Round 2 of the postseason begins today for three Crawford County teams as the PIAA girls volleyball tournament gets underway.
District 10 Class 1A champion Cochranton begins pursuit of state gold against District 9 runner-up Elk County Catholic at 6 p.m. at Meadville Area Senior High School’s House of Thrills. The District 10 runner-up in Class 1A, Saegertown, gets a 7 o’clock start against District 9 champion Clarion at Keystone High School in Knox.
At Cochranton, D-10 Class 3A champion Conneaut faces WPIAL No. 3 seed Franklin Regional at 6 p.m.
District 10 takes on District 9’s best
Crawford County’s representatives in the PIAA Class 1A tournament will have to get past a couple of District 9 stalwarts in the opening round.
Elk County Catholic — Cochranton’s opponent — is 15-2 on the year and was the No. 1 seed in the District 9 tournament. One of the Crusaders’ losses was to DuBois, the District 9 Class 3A champion. The other came to Clarion on Saturday in the D-9 title match, 25-16, 25-15, 25-13.
Taylor Newton had 11 kills to lead the Crusaders in that match. Julia Aikens had
Cochranton coach Marci Malliard feels the Cardinals — winners of nine D-10 titles — are well prepared for the next stage.
“They are tough. No doubt about it,” Malliard said regarding the District 9 squads. “I feel like we are battle tested enough, especially right at the end with the Maplewood Tournament. We played Clarion down at their tournament and they handled us. But it was at the end of the day and there were a few of us who were dragging.
“We certainly have a new look. I’ve moved us around so much.”
Cochranton has not faced Elk County Catholic this season.
Clarion, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 1A by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association, improved to 16-1 with the win over ECC. The title is the Bobcats’ second straight and 11th over the last 14 seasons.
The Bobcats beat the Crusaders behind a near flawless performance. Of the 75 points scored by Clarion, 54 were earned by the Bobcats — 39 kills, eight aces and seven blocks. Korrin Burns, a 5-foot-10 sophomore outside hitter, led Clarion with 13 kills, six digs and an ace. Freshman outside hitter Aryana Girvan had seven kills, three blocks and three digs. Kyara Girvan, the libero, had 12 digs. Kaitlyn Constantino had seven kills, six digs and two aces from the outside hitter position.
Brenna Campbell put it all together as the setter with
Saegertown, meanwhile is anxious for another opportunity to play; regardless of who it’s against.
“We get a chance to play again,” said Saegertown coach Justin Johnson, following the Panthers’ 25-23, 27-25, 25-19 loss to Cochranton in the D-10 title match. “I know we’ll probably end up playing a Clarion team that has been ranked No. 1 in the state all year. But we have new life. I’m sure they are very good. I don’t know if they are any better than any team we’ve seen this year in tournaments and matches.
“I’m excited to play them. I want to go see what happens. Like I told the girls, if we go down there and knock them off and do something no one expects us to do, no one will remember who won District 10.”
On to the show
Conneaut has had some kind of postseason. After cruising past 2018 PIAA Class 3A runner-up Warren in the semifinals, the Eagles took down a red-hot Meadville team 27-25, 25-16, 25-22 to win the D-10 crown.
Conneaut improved to 14-3 with the win over the Bulldogs.
The D-10 title and today’s berth in the state tournament is a credit to the Eagles’ growth as a team. Against Meadville, Cass Snider was the star hitter she has been all season, finishing with a team-best 12 kills. But freshman Kaylee Mattera was right behind with 10 kills and just two errors on the biggest stage of her young career.
“That’s what we’ve been looking for this season,” Conneaut coach Christine Krankota said. “Everybody targets Cass. But Kaylee has grown tremendously since the first time she stepped out on the varsity floor. Taylor (Kersnick) has been seeing the floor so well the last couple of weeks and she makes a huge difference. Emma (Stevenson) on the right side … She has a swing. She can take it line. She can hit it cross court. She has a swing that if she’s on, she’s dangerous too.”
The Eagles will need another team effort against the Jaguars tonight.
Franklin Regional hasn’t played since falling to Knoch 25-23, 25-17, 25-18 in the WPIAL semifinals on Wednesday. Knoch went on to win the WPIAL title, which gave the Jaguars the third seed. It was the Jaguars’ first loss of the season, ending a 17-match winning streak.
The Jaguars were led by 6-foot-1 junior middle hitter Aly Kindelberger, a DePaul recruit, who had 12 kills and four blocks. Hannah Flick tallied seven kills and three blocks. During the regular season, Kindelberger had 336 kills, 29 block assists and 23 digs, while hitting .351.