CLYMER - Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School girls volleyball coach Bob Kasun has seen enough matches to know where they are decided.
It stands to reason, therefore, he is not - nor does his expect his girls to be - daunted by the prospect of playing second-seeded Penns Manor in the semifinals of the District 6 Class A championships on Saturday at the Altoona Fieldhouse.
Never mind that second-seeded Penns Manor (17-0) includes a victory over Altoona in its non-conference resume.
"We're well aware that they beat Altoona and we know, whether they beat or lost to Altooona, they're a quality team. They're one the best teams in the state," Kasun said after the third-seeded Marauders' 3-0 victory over Conemaugh Valley in first of two quarterfinal matches at Penns Manor High School on Thursday night. "We know how well we're going to have to play to beat them.
"It starts with the coaching. Erika [Talmadge] is a great coach. And, I think, after the coaching you see a very balanced team. It's a senior-oriented team and they're playing like seniors. They're playing like experienced volleyball players."
The 12:30 p.m. semifinals will include two of the three teams listed among the top 10 in the most recent Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Class A state rankings. Bishop Guilfoyle (No. 5) and Penns Manor (No. 6) are right behind fifth-seeded Bishop Carroll, which is ranked fourth statewide.
"I think it's a testament to how strong District 6 volleyball is in Class A," Kasun said.
Conemaugh Valley coach Brian Oberneder knows where the Marauders belong.
"Bishop Guilfoyle's a solid team," he said. "They're probably one of the top five teams we've seen so far this year."
The Lady Maurauders (15-4) defeated the Lady Jays, 25-16, 25-23, 25-13. Bishop Guilfoyle set the early tone by scoring the first five points of the first game. It trailed Conemaugh Valley in the second game, 14-13, before gradually pulling away. A 7-0 rally in the third game gave Guilfoyle a 22-9 lead and erased whatever doubt might have lingered with the outcome.
"We knew it easn't going to be easy," Kasun said, recalling the Marauders' recent history with the Blue Jays. "We played Conemaugh Valley last year; they gave us everything we wanted."
"It took awhile for us to get into our groove," Oberneder said. "We came back strong in the second game. [We had] a few silly mistakes and we couldn't capitalize in the second game. We came back struggling again in the third game."
"I think we showed that we have the drive to carry it through to Saturday," said junior middle hitter Annie Dombrowsky, whose line included 13 service points, eight kills and 12 digs. "They gave us a big fight, and we pushed hard."
Kasun was especially pleased with the play of Taylor Johnsonbaugh. The sophomore right-side hitter filled in for junior middle hitter Alexis Hicks, who is likely finished for the season with a broken ankle, and contributed 10 kills and three service points.
"That's the good thing about our team," Dombrowsky said. "We have depth throughout our starters to even our bench. So if we ever suffer an injury we always have faith in our other players to come in and get the job done, just as [Johnsonbaugh] did. She did a great job."
Dombrowsky clicked well on this night with sophomore setter Brynee Baughman, who led Bishop Guilfoyle with 21 assists to go with seven service points. The two proved to be a lethal combination along the front row on set plays.
"We talk to each other before and after the play. We make sure we have it so we know what we're doing," Baughman said. "There's a lot of trust in it, too."
Outside hitter Lindsie Welteroth totaled nine kills and 11 digs. Setter Rachel Potopa, the Lady Marauders' only senior regular, served for eight points. Libero Logan McIntosh came up with 27 digs and eight service points.