LORETTO - When it comes to tournament volleyball, Northern Cambria coach Mike Hogan likes to say the team that has fun the longest will win. The Lady Colts had a lot of fun Saturday at the 13th annual St. Francis University High School Volleyball Invitational but fell a little short of the championship.
Richland beat Northern Cambria 25-23, 25-21 in the finals to win the tournament Gold Division playoffs.
"Taking second place in a 30-team tournament is not too bad," Hogan said. "We played a lot of good competition. It's good experience for our team being just a couple weeks into the season."
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Northern Cambria’s Jordan Tenerowicz (26) and Bald Eagle Area’s Jessica Bressler go up at the net during the St. Francis Volleyball Tournament Saturday.
After going 6-2 in the pool play, Northern Cambria entered the playoff round as the seventh seed. The Lady Colts knocked off Huntingdon, Central and Westmont Hilltop in that order on their to the finals.
In game one of the finals, Richland opened up an eight- point lead midway through and held on for a 25-23 win. Trailing 17-9 at one point, Northern Cambria rallied to within 24-23 before Richland closed it out.
Game two was tight all the way. Northern Cambria took an 18-15 lead following a Lakyn Fornari kill, but Richland outscored the Lady Colts 10-3 the rest of the way to take the championship.
Kelsey Roush got the Richland rally started with a block on Fornari then a kill of her own.
"She had a real good block on me," Fornari said. "But you can't let that stuff get to you. You can't anything get to you. You have to stay positive and keep playing."
Roush and Alyssa Rozich each had kills to close out the Lady Colts.
"Kelsey was serving at the time, and we were able to get on a little run," Richland coach Gina Leis said. "We had a number of players step up. For a couple kids this year has been their first varsity experience. They didn't see the court at all last year."
The 30-team tournament is not only one of the largest single-day tournaments in the state, but it is also unique because every team advances to a single-elimination playoff round, in which schools are competing against schools of a similar competition level based on results of pool play, tournament director Chuck Gojmerac said.
Six teams emerged from pool play with a 7-1 mark. Philipsburg-Osceola was the top seed because it had the highest point differential over the other five schools.
P-O beat Hollidaysburg in the quarterfinals, 25-23, before suffering the same fate as Northern Cambria. Richland knocked off P-O, 25-20, 25-21.
"[Roush] was the difference. When she's in the front row, she's a real difficult matchup for us. It's almost like a woman playing amongst girls," P-O coach Dave Eckberg said. "Being the number seed is something to be proud of. Obviously, we would have like to played longer, but Richland is a good, quality team."
GOLD DIVISION PLAYOFFS
First Round: Hollidaysburg def. Ligonier Valley 27-25; Northern Cambria def. Huntingdon 25-19.
Quarterfinals: Philipsburg-Osceola def. Hollidaysburg 25-23; Richland def. Penn Cambria 25-23; Westmont Hilltop def. Bishop McCort 25-11; Northern Cambria def. Central 25-12.
Semifinals: Richland def. Philipsburg-Osceola 25-20, 25-21; Northern Cambria def. Westmont Hilltop 25-23, 22-25, 15-7.
Finals: Richland def. Northern Cambria 25-23, 25-21.
SILVER DIVISION PLAYOFFS
First round: Chestnut Ridge def. Northern Bedford 25-22; Central Cambria def. Meyersdale 25-13.
Quarterfinals: Forest Hills def. Chestnut Ridge 25-18; Purchase Line def. Johnstown 25-12; Bellwood-Antis def. Bald Eagle Area 25-15; Central Cambria def. Ferndale 25-21.
Semifinals: Forest Hills def. Purchase Line 23-25, 25-16, 15-10; Central Cambria def. Bellwood-Antis 27-25, 25-4.
Finals: Forest Hills def. Central Cambria 25-18, 17-25, 15-10.
BRONZE DIVISION PLAYOFFS
First round: Portage def. Williamsburg 25-12; Conemaugh Township def. Rockwood 25-23.
Quarterfinals: United def. Portage 25-14; Tussey Mountain def. Homer-Center 25-17; Mount Union def. St. Josephs 25-13; Conemaugh Valley def. Conemaugh Township 25-16.
Semifinals: United def. Tussey Mountain 25-12, 17-25, 15-10; Conemaugh Valley def. Mount Union 26-24, 18-25, 15-9.
Finals: United def. Conemaugh Valley 25-23, 25-19.