TYRONE - State College's service game got Altoona out of whack early and the Lady Spikers never recovered as the Lady Little Lions swept their way to a second straight District 6 Class AAA girls' volleyball championship Thursday night at the Tyrone Middle School.
State College was victorious by scores of 25-18, 25-18 and 25-13 in a match that lasted only an hour.
In the first set, Altoona jumped out to an early 4-3 lead before State ran off four straight points and never looked back. In the second set, Altoona led 12-10 before SC got rolling and finished strong. SC dominated the third, jumping out 10-2 and cruising home.
Photo for the Mirror by Chris Shannon
Brianna Luciano spikes over SC’s Jackie Horner.
"Our serving was big," SC coach Chad Weight said, "and serving to the right people, too. I got angry a few times when we served to the wrong people.
"Serving is always part of our game plan. It makes it much easier on our side then."
State College advances to state tournament competition with an 18-2 record. Altoona closed the books on an 11-5 season.
"We wanted to impose our will on them," Weight continued. "We didn't want to allow them in the game. We know they're very well coached. Karan [Altoona coach Karan Price] always has her teams ready to play.
"I thought they did a really good job when they first came out, but I think we just kind of wore on them a little bit, and that's what I mean by imposing our will."
Price said it was a tough match.
"State College has quality athletes, quality coaches - they bring the whole package," the Altoona coach said. "And, they brought it tonight."
Altoona's offense appeared to be one dimensional with outside hitter Hannah Moore providing much of the spark for the Lady Lions.
"Their service really put us out of system, and because of that, we couldn't get our offense going," Price said. "When we did get going, we have the potential to run off a lot of unforced errors. At times, we're our own worst enemy and tonight, that was the case."
Injuries took its toll on State College early in the season, but Weight said several underclassmen stepped up along the way.
Freshman Kyla Irwin, daughter of State High girls' basketball coach Bethany Irwin, was one of the leaders for the Lady Little Lions with nine kills.
"It's been a work in progress [with her]," Weight said, "but I knew we had something special when I saw her on the middle school team last year. I knew it was just a matter of time with her."
"It's amazing," Irwin said of winning the district championship. "Playing Altoona was so much fun."
Irwin said she was not surprised at becoming one of SC's big options in the middle this season.
"I was hoping," she said, with a smile.
"She's definitely gotten better as the year progressed," Price said. "When you're 6-foot, good things are going to happen once you get experience and start to learn the system.
"She certainly has done that."
Despite the loss, Price credited her team's effort.
"We really stacked our schedule," she said. "We've gone through some tough battles and, even with this match, we didn't quit, and that's going to pay off later in life."
Game notes: Altoona statistical leaders: Hannah Moore, 11 kills; Natalie Biesecker, five blocks; Shannon Albright, five service points, 18 digs. ... SC leaders: Christine Irwin, 12 kills; Suzanne Horner, 18 assists, eight digs; Sydney McNulty, four blocks.