EBENSBURG - Last week, the Bishop Carroll Catholic girls volleyball team defeated Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic to win the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference title.
Thursday, the Lady Huskies and Lady Marauders will meet again with a little more at stake.
Bishop Carroll held off Bishop McCort, 25-23, 15-25, 25-20, 25-23, and Bishop Guilfoyle handled Conemaugh Valley, 25-18, 20-25, 25-12, 25-19, as each won their respective District 6 Class A quarterfinal match Tuesday night, setting themselves on a collision course to battle for a berth in the district championship.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Bishop?Carroll’s Dani Link digs the ball against Bishop McCort.
"I haven't seen them play a game like that up until that night," Bishop Carroll coach Joe Skura said of the Lady Huskies' most recent meeting with the Lady Marauders. "They had a lot of heart. They knew it was for the Laurel Highlands Conference [regular season title]. This time it's to play for the district championship."
Even though the Marauders would not have been able to win the LHAC crown with a victory over the Huskies last week, Bishop Guilfoyle coach Bob Kasun knows his team has a chance to spoil a different Bishop Carroll goal.
But it won't be easy.
"We realize playing Bishop Carroll is going to be a mighty task. They're playing very well right now. It's an exciting rivalry, and we realize the stakes are really high," Kasun said. "They have two dynamic middle hitters and a very good setter. I think that what impressed me, they're not just those three players. They have a strong team."
The Lady Huskies' two hitters - senior Dani Link and sophomore Sarah Gomish - combined for 54 kills against the Lady Crushers Tuesday night. Sunny Settle had 37 assists to help Bishop Carroll grind out a back-and-forth battle.
"[Bishop McCort is] a good team," Skura said. "I kind of predicted it was going to be a dogfight tonight. They have a strong group of senior leaders and really good coaches.
"Our two middles - when they're on, they get the job done for us. They're both strong, but they were both a little tentative tonight. But we worked together as a team, and it was a real team effort tonight."
The tentativeness may have been because of Crushers heavy hitter Larissa Swank, who kept the Huskies on their heels for much of the night, especially in the second game.
She finished with 20 kills.
And despite playing down to the wire in games three and four, Bishop Carroll was able to rebound and advance.
"The defense really makes those hitters strong, and our defense picked it up," Skura said. "We played sluggish, but they were on their 'A' game. They played really well."
Bishop Guilfoyle had a seemingly less difficult time advancing to the semifinals.
After cruising to the finish line in game one, the Lady Marauders were down by as many as 10 points in the second game, but managed to chip away and get within two points (19-17). The Lady Blue Jays were able to hold off the come-back attempt, though, and tied the match at one game apiece.
"I thought Conemaugh Valley played very well," Kasun said. "They are a strong, defensive team and they did an excellent job. We bumped our game up another level to make sure that we could win."
The Marauders won game three convincingly, but struggled to close out Conemaugh Valley in game four after leading by as many as 10.
"The one thing we talked about after the match is that we've got to finish off opponents," Kasun said. "We let them hang around, and they were within striking distance in game four. Whenever your at the district [playoff] level, every team wants to win, and they play that way."
Bishop Guilfoyle's Alyssa Luther had a triple-double with 41 assists, 13 digs and 12 service points, while Jess Welteroth had 15 kills and 10 digs.
Annie Dombrowski and Logan McIntosh had 23 and 20 digs, respectively, and Rachel Potopa added 18. Allie Bearer had 10 kills.
But Kasun knows he'll need that kind of effort - and then some - to be able to play for the district title.
"We just have to make sure we take care of the ball and that we have a little bit more of a killer instinct to finish off the match, to finish off teams," Kasun said. "We had some great individual performances, but we have to understand that at this level, the closer you get to the District 6 final, the tougher it is to beat teams."
BISHOP GUILFOYLE: Luther 12, Baughman 11, Dombrowski 7, Potopa 7, McIntosh 4, Sherry 4, Welteroth 2, O'Leary 2.
BISHOP CARROLL: Woomer 6, Link 1, Settle 5, Przybys 10, Gomish 11, Platt 9.
Records: Bishop Guilfoyle (17-4); Bishop Carroll (18-3).