STATE COLLEGE - Altoona coach Karan Price did not hold back when asked how her team would prepare for the District 6 Class AAA girls volleyball championship.
"Well unless something unforeseen happens, I think State College will come out victorious," Price said following her team's semifinal win over Central Mountain. "And that's who we're prepping for."
State College followed suit, sweeping Hollidaysburg (25-7, 25-11, 25-4) after Altoona's sweep of Central Mountain (25-17, 25-7, 25-14) earlier in the night, setting up a showdown at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Tyrone Middle School for the district title. The winner goes to the PIAA tournament a week later.
Despite having the biggest crowd of the four schools playing at the North Gym on Wednesday, there was little celebration after Altoona notched yet another postseason date with State College.
"Definitely," Price said of the business-like approach. "Our focus [was] to get through tonight and big focus for Wednesday."
That will require somebody to step up and challenge a State College team that recorded 19 aces against Hollidaysburg on Wednesday. Christine Irwin led the way with 5.
State College coach Chad Weight said it would be a key against the Lady Spikers.
"Very important," Weight said. "We know we get Altoona out of system, anybody for that matter, it helps us, so we're going to go after them."
No play summed up the night better than in the second set, when, with her team up 7-6, Lauren Hester served a ball that hit the upper part of the front of the net before slowly creeping its way to the other side off its backspin. Most of the Hollidaysburg players had already turned around, thinking the point was destined to be theirs before it suddenly wasn't.
Hollidaysburg coach Ken Streilein was not too surprised by his opponent's play throughout he night.
"Well I think it's just we don't see that great a serving," Streilein said. "I mean their serving was very, very tough tonight I thought, and we just couldn't figure out how to pass and I think we just kind of got down on ourselves and just weren't able to combat.
"But I think what we just need to do is just a matter of, I just told the girls, gotta practice that and practice it more, practice harder serves for us to return the serves and that's really going to be it. We've got a fairly young team so that's what I said, that's what's going to be a big focus next year, is our serve-receive."
Streilein returns all but two seniors. Weight, meanwhile, will get another chance to oust the team that has ended his school's season the past two years.
"I paid attention to what they were doing," Weight said. "We've played them twice, so I have an idea and I've watched them at other tournaments, so I have a decent idea of what they're going to do. Having said that, Karan's a great game-planner, so I know they'll be ready to play, no doubt about that."