By Judd Manning
Entering the second set of Tuesday's District 6-A semifinal matchup between top-seeded Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic and fourth-seeded Northern Cambria, the Guilfoyle student section started to pack full of various ghouls and goblins cheering on the Lady Marauders.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Bishop Guilfoyle’s Alexis Hicks and Annie Dombrowski try to block Alyssa Walters’ shot.
However, it was the Guilfoyle offense that proved to be the scarier of the two.
After winning a hard-fought first set, the Lady Marauders booked its spot in the district championship game after cruising past the Lady Colts, 3-0, at the Pleasant Valley Gymnasium.
"It started with tough serving," Bishop Guilfoyle coach Bob Kasun said. "We were able to knock Northern Cambria out of its system. Our offense had a game plan, the girls stuck to it and performed very well. It was a total team effort."
The Lady Colts were able to stay in the first set, before falling, 25-17.
After Bishop Guilfoyle (19-1) took a 15-5 lead to start the second set, Northern Cambria coach Mike Hogan called a timeout as he saw the Guilfoyle momentum building.
"It got away from us," Hogan said. "I started using timeouts, as they put a lot serving pressure on us. We didn't pass or set well and we just couldn't get going. It enable them to keep going. Give them credit, they outmatched us tonight."
Guilfoyle was able to keep the serve for much of the second and third matches, which it won, 25-6, and 25-4.
"They got into rhythm pretty well," Hogan said. "They steamrolled us. We couldn't get our game doing and they had a good crowd. I am glad they are getting the support that they do. They are one of the best teams in the state."
Senior middle-hitter Annie Dombrowski took the serve with the Lady Marauders leading 6-1 in the third and final set, and would not give it back until they built the lead to 23-2.
Dombrowski finished with 18 service points, 13 kills and 14 digs, while Logan McIntosh had 18 digs and Brynee Baughman added 27 assists.
"Gary Evangelisto, our assistant coach, does a great job calling our service areas," Kasun said. "He is one of the best coaches around. The girls are able to tap into his expertise on the best areas to serve. It came down to execution and Annie Dombrowski did a great job serving short and long. The first part of our offense is our service."
Hogan called two timeouts in the third set when trailing 5-0 and 14-1, but the Lady Marauders were unfazed.
"We don't have much size," Hogan said. "We need to serve and pass well to win. We never got settled in as far as receiving serves. When we were able to handle their serves, we didn't run our offense well, which makes it tough to beat anybody."
Guilfoyle will move on to face second-seeded Bishop Carroll in the District 6-A championship game on Saturday at the Altoona fieldhouse.
The teams split their two regular season games, with Carroll handing Guilfoyle its first loss in the second matchup.
"I thought there was potential for us to see them a third time," Kasun said. "If anyone has love for the game of volleyball, they should be at the fieldhouse on Saturday. They are one of the best teams in the state and we are one of the best teams in the state, so I am anxious to see what happens."
NORTHERN CAMBRIA: Benton 2, Fornari 2, Walters 2, McGary.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE: Dombrowski 18, Patterson 11, Baughman 8, Welteroth 7, Griffin 6, Hicks.
Records: Northern Cambria (14-3); Bishop Guilfoyle (19-1).