LORETTO - Twenty-four high school girls volleyball teams traveled from all over the region for the 12th annual St. Francis University Volleyball Tournament, but it was the one just minutes away that took home gold.
Penn Cambria did not lose one game all day on its way to the Gold Division championship Saturday at the Stokes Athletic Center.
After winning three straight matches in pool play, the Lady Panthers swept through the playoffs with wins over Bishop McCort in the first round, Westmont Hilltop in the semis and Bellwood-Antis in the finals.
"The girls went all out and got the job done," Penn Cambria coach Leah Montgomery said. "They played as a team and looked really good out there."
Taylor Freeman and Tori Shingler dominated the net. Each of them had 56 kills on the day. Freeman led the team with 16 kills in the finals, and Shingler had 11.
"When those two are on, it seems like nobody can stop us. Hopefully they'll continue to play that way the rest of the way," Montgomery said. "Karissa Buzzella had a strong day serving, and Kelly Yusko was all over the court setting up our hitters."
Penn Cambria jumped out to early leads in both games against Bellwood. In the first game, the Lady Panthers got off to a quick 12-6 start before Bellwood rallied. The Lady Devils got within one at 13-12, but Penn Cambria reeled off 12 of the next 15 points for the 25-15 win.
Penn Cambria also grabbed a 12-6 lead in the second game and were up 22-14 before Bellwood mounted another comeback attempt.
Three kills by Katy Leamer and a service ace by Kathleen Vankirk helped Bellwood make it a 22-19 contest, but back-to-back kills by Shingler, and one last kill from Freeman gave Penn Cambria a 25-19 win and the tournament title.
"We had worked too hard to give up the lead at that point," Freeman said. "We got it back together. Kelly gave me a perfect pass, and I put it away."
Bellwood entered the finals without having lost a game all day as well. The Lady Devils swept their three-pool matches then went on to knock off Richland and Chestnut Ridge in the playoffs.
"In my seven years as an assistant coach and now the head coach, this is the best we've ever placed," Bellwood coach Annette Wilkins said. "In years past, we've ended up in the bronze playoffs. Second place in the gold pool is a pretty darn good day."
After three pool matches, each team was seeded in one of three playoff divisions. The top eight teams played in the Gold Division, the middle eight in the Silver Division and the lower eight in the Bronze Division.
Ligonier Valley beat Conemaugh township in the Silver Division finals, 27-25, 25-19, and Forest Hills defeated Northern Bedford for the Bronze Division championship, 25-14, 25-9.
St. Francis tournament
Pool A: Bellwood-Antis 3-0, Westmont Hilltop 2-1, Homer-Center 1-2, Central 0-3.
Pool B: Chestnut Ridge 3-0, United 2-1, Huntingdon 1-2, Forest Hills 0-3.
Pool C: Central Cambria 3-0, Conemaugh Township 2-1, Purchase Line 1-2, Northern Bedford 0-3.
Pool D: Penn Cambria 3-0, Ligonier Valley 2-1, Philipsburg-Osceola 1-2, Meyersdale 0-3.
Pool E: Bishop McCort 3-0, Portage 2-1, Bald Eagle 1-2, Tussey Mountain 0-3.
Pool F: Hollidaysburg 3-0, Richland 2-1, Johnstown 1-2, Rockwood 0-3.
GOLD DIVISION PLAYOFFS
First round: Westmont Hilltop (8) d. Central Cambria (1) 25-18, 25-18; Penn Cambria (4) d. Bishop McCort (5) 25-13, 25-19; Chestnut Ridge (3) d. Hollidaysburg (6), 25-20, 25-22; Bellwood-Antis (2) d. Richland (7) 25-22, 25-18. Semifinals: Penn Cambria d. Westmont Hilltop 25-18, 25-15; Bellwood-Antis d. Chestnut Ridge 25-23, 25-10. Finals: Penn Cambria d. Bellwood-Antis 25-15, 25-19.
SILVER DIVISION PLAYOFFS
First round Conemaugh Township (1) d. Johnstown (8) 25-23, 25-22; Philipsburg-Osceola (5) d. United (4) 21-25, 25-14, 15-13; Ligonier Valley (3) d. Bald Eagle (6) 25-20, 25-19; Huntingdon (7) d. Portage (2) 25-16, 25-17. Semifinals: Conemaugh Township d. Philipsburg-Osceola 19-25, 25-17, 16-14; Ligonier Valley d. Huntingdon 16-25, 25-20, 16-14. Finals: Ligonier Valley d. Conemaugh Township 27-25 25-19.
BRONZE DIVISION PLAYOFFS
First round: Homer Center (1) d. Meyersdale 25-18, 25-19; Northern Bedford (4) d. Tussey Mountain (5) 25-18, 12-25, 17-15; Forest Hills (3) d. Central (6) 25-19, 25-15; Purchase Line (2) d. Rockwood (7) 25-19, 16-25, 15-12. Semifinals: Northern Bedford d. Homer-Center25-23, 25-19; Forest Hills d. Purchase Line 25-18, 25-22. Finals: Forest Hills d. Northern Bedford 25-14, 25-9.