ERIE — The Maplewood girls volleyball team must have really missed making that trip to states last season. Because the Lady Tigers didn’t waste any time getting their ticket punched to this year’s party, downing Seton LaSalle in three games, 25-14, 25-18, 25-13, at the PIAA Class AA Western Regional at Penn State Behrend’s Junker Center on Tuesday.

“I’m so excited,” said Tigers outside hitter Abby Mailliard. “I went to states as a sophomore, and now it’s my senior year and we’re going to York.”

The PIAA Championship Tournament will run Friday and Saturday at Central York High School. It will be a return trip for Maplewood after its three-year run of state appearances ended last season when the Tigers fell to Titusville in the District 10 semifinals. Maplewood has three state titles already, the last one in 1995.

“When you get down there (to states) there’s only going to be eight teams left and everyone is going to be pretty good,” said Maplewood coach Sheila Bancroft, whose team was ranked eighth in the last Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association poll.

“You’ve got to show up for every match,” she added. “I think we can play a little bit better than we did today. If we can play like we did on Saturday (when the Tigers won the D-10 title over Titusville) I think we’ll be in great shape.”

Except for a couple hiccups here and there, it’s hard to complain about Maplewood’s effort against LaSalle.

“We did awesome,” said Tigers sophomore outside hitter Angela Groshner. “We wanted to pick it up today and come in here and dominate.”

It all started with the serve for Maplewood. The Lady Rebels’ offense didn’t get much to work with — even after switching liberos for the third game — and struggled to set up their two big middle hitters Casey Kasprzak and Jessica Heintz.

“(Heintz) was definitely one of their key players,” said Mailliard. “She was a good hitter, a good blocker, an all-around good player. And overall they were a decent team. But we came out on top.”

Anna McCurdy led the way from the base line with 14 points, half of which were scored on aces. She ripped off four aces during a nine-point run towards the end of the first game which ended with the Tigers ahead 24-13.

Middle hitter Danielle Brunot finished off the game with one of her 10 kills on the night.

“Danielle Brunot was a little under the weather today,” said Bancroft. “We were a little nervous about it coming in here tonight. But you wouldn’t have known (she was sick) by the way she played.”

McCurdy — who also had a team-high 11 kills — then finished off the match with a five-point run from behind the line in the third game. Her last two serves were hardly touched by LaSalle.

“Anna did amazing at the service line,” Mailliard said. “She’s a good blocker and a good front row player, but tonight she got back there and really stepped it up.”

Groshner also had a big day at the service line. Along with eight kills, she served for 13 points and tallied five aces. Many of those were scored during a big seven-point run at the start of the third game that put the Tigers ahead 9-2.

“Both girls (McCurdy and Groshner) had some runs,” said Bancroft. “Against good teams you have to score in runs like that. You’ve got to be able to put them together. And we were able to put them together today.”

Senior setter Amanda Bancroft set up the offense with 28 assists. Defensively, outside hitter Heidi Young had nine digs while libero Megan Groshner led the team with 16.

Megan Groshner’s biggest dig perhaps turned the second game around. LaSalle lingered in the second game, tying it up at 16-16. As Maplewood started to pull away with another run, Heintz looked to put the breaks on it with a monster spike to the back row. Groshner got under it, and popped it up high towards the bleachers. Amanda Bancroft eventually bumped it over the net and a stunned LaSalle team couldn’t field it. Afterwards, the Tigers sprinted to a 25-18 win to take a 2-0 lead.

“I thought we had our ups and downs,” said coach Bancroft. “But we were able to come up with some big defensive plays. And our servers did a really good job tonight.”

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