TYRONE - Tuesday night's District 6 Class AA high school volleyball semifinal can be best summed up by the fifth game, in which neither Northern Cambria or Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic could find a way to pull away.
But then the Colts' Zack Lee began to serve, and Northern Cambria finally made its move, defeating the Marauders, 15-25, 25-20, 21-25, 25-19, 15-10, at the Tyrone Area Middle School Gymnasium to advance to Thursday's championship against Forest Hills.
"[Lee] has improved as the season went on," Northern Cambria coach Mike Hogan said. "He is only a sophomore. We had a kid not in the lineup that is normally in the lineup, and Zack really came up to the challenge, stepped in there and just played tremendous."
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Northern Cambria’s Alex Atkins and Bishop Guilfoyle’s Ben Kasun meet at the net.
Lee helped build a 13-9 lead in the fifth game after five lead changes. Lee topped the Colts in service points with 15 and was the only Colt in double figures.
"At the beginning of the season, it wasn't too good but I worked on it," Lee said. "I started hitting it harder and just started using that."
The Colts battled back after losing both the first and third games. Northern Cambria opened the match with a 25-15 loss, the largest deficit any team faced in the match.
"You could tell we were still moping around there in game one, but I told the kids we won because we put our minds to it," Hogan said. "We decided we wanted it more than BG. We admitted openly that they absolutely kicked our butts in game one. It's either you are going to man up or go home really quick.
"I'm really proud of those kids. They really came back in a tough game. BG was playing with a lot of confidence. To win here, it was a very, very good win for Northern Cambria."
The semifinal match marked the third time Northern Cambria and Bishop Guilfoyle played each other, and the win in the first game was the first for the Marauders against Northern Cambria this season.
"I just though we gave an all-out effort tonight," Marauders coach Bob Kasun said. "The first two times we played Northern Cambria, we got swept. To be honest, we weren't in the matches. It's sad that we lost tonight, but we also take into consolation the fact that this program is heading in the right direction thanks to our seniors."
The Colts were able to overcome deficits in all three games in which they won, including an 8-2 deficit in the second game.
"That was a very tough match to win," Hogan said. "BG was playing awesome. They had some wins down stretch in their regular season. We had a loss at the end of our regular season, so we had to have really a kind of gut check there."
Bishop Guilfoyle's Patrick Kapfhammer recorded 10 service points, and Ben Kasun also finished in double digits with 11 service points.
"It is bittersweet, obviously, losing five seniors tonight who contributed a lot to our volleyball program, but we played as hard as we could play," Bob Kasun said. "One year ago, we were 4-14. This year, entering this playoff match, we were 10-8. We have made a lot of progress."
The Colts now will play Forest Hills Friday night at Bishop Carroll High School. Lee's offensive leadership is something that he is trying to get used to.
"I'll try my hardest," Lee said. "I will try to do the same I did this game."
The Rangers defeated Northern Cambria twice this season.
"We look forward to the opportunity to play Forest Hills again," Hogan said. "They beat us twice. They obviously have a nice team, but I like Northern Cambria's chances. Our kids are not going to quit. We play like we played tonight, and we have a very, very good opportunity to win."
BISHOP GUILFOYLE: Brumbaugh 8, Rickens 6, Kasun 11, Little 9, Kapfhammer 10, Jorkasky 3
NORTHERN CAMBRIA: Daisley 6, Carroll 7, N. Lee 7, Hogan 6, Hartman 8, Z. Lee 15
Team records: Bishop Guilfoyle (10-9); Northern Cambria (12-7).