Central Cambria sees historic season end

District 6 Class 2A Volleyball: West Shamokin 3, Central Cambria 2

EBENSBURG — Based on logic, West Shamokin, which had to travel nearly an hour to get to a game, should have been the team that gets off to a slow start.

However, the Lady Red Devils were the rusty ones in Tuesday’s District 6 Class 2A quarterfinal match as the sixth-seeded Lady Wolves downed third-seeded CC in five sets (25-14, 22-25, 25-22, 15-25, 15-13).

“I don’t know if we caught them by surprise or what, but in that first game I knew that’s not how they normally play, but we’ll take it,” West Shamokin coach Malinda Oesterling said. “It allowed us to get a little bit of confidence to get one game up. The second game they came out on fire.”

Most of the harm was self-inflicted for Central Cambria most of the night, but especially in the first set.

West Shamokin only accounted for nine service points, while taking the first set. Between a five-day layoff for Central Cambria and a lack of communication, the Lady Red Devils found themselves in a deep hole early in the match, trying to salvage the first set, calling a timeout down 8-3.

“It was a little combination of the two,” Central Cambria coach Jason Layman said. “Our service return is what killed us; we kind of regrouped in games two, three and four after that. They’re a tough serving team; probably the toughest we’ve seen all year. They exposed us in game one.”

But CC battled back, taking the second set. In the middle of the set, Central Cambria rattled off nine-straight points and held off a late rally by West Shamokin.

“I think we came in a little too confident,” Senior outside hitter Tessa Gittings said. “They really put us in our place. I feel like the crowd really helped us.”

It seemed like the third set would be similar to the previous one, as Central Cambria produced a five-point rally to climb within four points. But West Shamokin went on a run of its own, and staved off another late rally by the Lady Red Devils, which got to within two points before dropping the game.

Desperation can be a powerful tool, and Central Cambria used it to its advantage, taking set No. 4 in decisive fashion win.

With momentum heading into the final set, it seemed as if the CC would complete the comeback.

In a see-saw affair, West Shamokin was the one to finish on top last, as the Lady Wolves strung together four straight points to win after being down in the set, 13-11.

“We had that game five experience in three or four matches this year and I thought our girls were going to get it together there to finish it out,” Layman said.

But with a final record of 19-4, Central Cambria made program history this season by winning its first Laurel Highlands Conference title. The Red Devils knocked off two-time defending champion Somerset, which plays for the Class 4A crown on tonight en route to their best record in program history as well.

“I’ll always look back and be proud of my team; throughout the years, not even just this year,” Gittings said.

Despite graduating four seniors, the majority of Central Cambria’s core will remain intact for next season.

“We have a strong group of girls coming back and we’ll replace those spots we lose with the seniors,” Junior outside hitter Jenna Bauer said. “Most of the girls play for the same travel team, so with all of us playing in the offseason and practicing we should be pretty good from that.”

SERVICE POINTS

WEST SHAMOKIN: Porter 8, Oesterling 3, O. Fusaro 13, Patterson 13, Prugh 6, Dailey 7, S. Fusaro 1.

CENTRAL CAMBRIA: Bauer 21, Gittings 6, Muffie 18, Grimes 13, Bopp 8, Bezek 1.

Records: West Shamokin 16-2; Central Cambria 19-4.

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