TYRONE - The Altoona girls volleyball team's three-year reign as District 6 Class AAA champion ended Wednesday.
Altoona's run at a fourth straight title fell short in the district finals as State College topped the Lady Spikers, 3-0, in the best-of-five match at the Tyrone Area Middle School gym.
State College swept Altoona twice during the regular season and did it again in the finals, 25-19, 25-14, 25-23.
Mirror photo by Gary M.?Baranec
Altoona’s Hannah Moore (12) goes up for the block in front of teammate Katelyn?Goodman against State College.
Led by the Leath sisters, State College's hitters pressured Altoona from the start and never let up. Taylor Leath led all players with 18 kills, Emma Weakland had 11 and Randi Leath added eight.
"We played them as tough as we could, but right now, they have more big guns than we do," Altoona coach Karan Price said. "They do all things well. They have a great team and run a nice system."
Altoona's three previous district crowns all came at the expense of State College, making this year's victory even sweeter for the Lady Little Lions.
"It's kind of been the monkey on the back of State College volleyball for awhile now. It feels good to get it off and be able to move forward," State College coach Chad Weight said. "Altoona played us tough. Karan always has her team well prepared and ready to play. It was our relentless pressure that won it."
Hannah Moore led Altoona with 11 kills, Amanda Parrish had eight and Adena Delozier added six. Parrish played a strong defensive game at the net with eight blocks.
The previous losses to Altoona made a good early start that much more important for State College.
"That monkey on your back carries over from year to year, and we knew we'd have to play Altoona again. We knew we'd have to face the adversity and face the pressure," Weight said. "The early lead gave Altoona a ton of confidence last year. We didn't want that to happen again this year."
State College jumped out to an 11-6 lead in the first game, but Altoona fought back to tie it 12-12.
Kelley George got the rally rolling with an ace and Parrish followed with a kill. Parrish then made a strong block on Taylor Leath to tie it.
State College immediately regained the lead, however, when Leath put a push shot just over Parrish's fingertips. The Lady Little Lions then scored six of the next seven points and went for the win.
Game two didn't go any better for the Lady Spikers as State College jumped out to a 9-2 lead on its way to a relatively easy 25-14 win.
"We made a couple of service errors, and they were in system," Price said. "When they're in system, they're unstoppable."
Altoona grabbed its first lead of the night early in the third game and had a 16-15 lead at one point, but State College rallied for the clinching win.
"When you go down 2-0, it's real easy to give away that third game, but we didn't quit," Price said. "We have a good nucleus of girls coming back. We'll learn from this experience and be a better team for it."
ALTOONA: George 6, Parrish 4, Delozier 2, Moore 2, Albright 1, MacDonald 1.
Team records: Altoona (12-4); State College (15-1).