Bishop Carroll's Sarah Gomish was a little intense before and during the Lady Huskies' clash with Bishop Guilfoyle Saturday in the District 6 Class A Volleyball Championship.
"She was fired up. She said to me yesterday, if I don't do this tomorrow, I'm never going to forget that I didn't do it," Skura said.
The intense emotions worked for Gomish, whose 23 kills, 22 service points and 10 digs led the second-seeded Lady Huskies to a thrilling five-set win over top-seeded BG, 16-25, 25-17, 25-22, 22-25, 15-9, before a large, vocal crowd at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Bishop Carroll’s (from left) Sarah Gomish (13), Hayley Holsberger (17), Nicole Woomer?(1) and Ellie Yahner (4) celebrate their district title win over Bishop Guilfoyle
"Sarah comes up big every time," BG coach Bob Kasun said. "I go back 30 years with volleyball, and Sarah is a one of a kind player. I'll be honest, she is one of three players that I've ever seen that can do as much as she does. She's an all-state player, and if there were higher awards, I'd nominate her for them."
"She makes me nervous, and she knows it," Skura said. "She plays with so much emotion in her game that sometimes she goes back and lobs it out of bounds because she has all that energy. Today, I said 'Come on, Sarah, just keep control of your serve,' and she did."
Both teams had already qualified for the state tournament by making the finals. That begins Tuesday, with BC (20-1) playing the District 7 fourth-placer at Central Cambria at 6 p.m. and BG (19-2) facing District 5 champion North Star at 7 p.m. at Somerset.
The Lady Huskies, who are 2-1 against BG this year, celebrated with gusto afterward a year after losing to Penns Manor in the finals.
"This feels awesome," Skura said. "This group of girls deserves this more than any group of girls you'll ever meet. They put time in during in-season and offseason, and they eat, sleep, breathe and dream volleyball. I'm so proud of them that they got it."
"Our goal last year was to get here, and this year we had the team to do it," Gomish said. "I couldn't be more proud of all of these girls."
Only one side of the Fieldhouse was open, and most of the seats were filled early. A long line of fans snaked out the door a half-hour before the match, and the BG student section, dressed in camouflage, was into it from the start.
"I have never seen a crowd this big for a volleyball match," Kasun said. "We have [on the coaching staff] a former All-American volleyball player [Niki Gioiosa] who played at Juniata, and she said 'You're never going to see that anywhere else.' "
That crowd got to see volleyball at highest level. Not only was Gomish shining, BC also got big play from Haley Holseberger (23 kills), Rachele Kwisnek (13 service points), Allyson Przybys (11 digs), Janelle Gueguen (52 assists) and Ellie Yahner (10 digs).
Gomish was especially dominant serving early in the match, carrying BC on a run in the second set
"I was struggling with my serve [during the season], and my coach said it has to be on today," Gomish said. "Serving is a one-person job. There's nobody else there to help you serve the ball over the net. It's just you."
Over the five sets, there were a lot of long volleys, with the winners of those gutchecks getting the edge.
"That's a huge deal," Gomish said. "That's where the momentum and the energy when you win a volley like that."
"Almost every time the team that won of those long volleys went on for three or four points," Skura said.
BG, which was led by Annie Dombrowski (17 kills, 20 digs) and Logan McIntosh (24 digs), won the fourth set with a Welteroth dump shot over the net.
BC got strong net play from Holsberger in the final set. She blocked a kill attempt to give BC a 9-5 lead, and her kill later made it 12-5.
"She's the blocker of all team," Gomish said, "and whenever she gets on top of the ball, she'll swing."
The final points were difficult to get for BC as the Lady Marauders weren't about give up, but when Gomish knocked down a kill at 14-9, BC's celebration began.
"They were a little more nervewracking than they should have been," Gomish said of the final points. "We knew we had the lead there, so we kind of messed around. We didn't do the smart things because we knew we were going to win at that point."
"Congratulations to Bishop Carroll," Kasun said. "When I first started coaching nine years ago and we started playing Bishop Carroll, they were a middle of the pack team in the Laurel Highlands to maybe even bottom part of it. The job that Joe has done at Bishop Carroll, to take them from that level to Laurel Highlands champions to District 6 champions is a great coaching job by Joe."
BISHOP CARROLL: Gomish 22, Kwisnek 13, Przybys 9, Gueguen 7, Yahner 3, Woomer 2, Ertter 1
BISHOP GUILFOYLE: Griffin 13, Hicks 6, Welteroth 6, Baughman 6, Patterson 5, Dombrowski 4, Murgas 2, Ferrell 2
Records: Bishop Carroll (20-1); Bishop Guilfoyle (19-2)