Carroll wins elusive district championship
In each of the three previous seasons, the Bishop Carroll Catholic girls volleyball team made the trip down the mountain to Altoona in search of a district championship only to leave disappointed.
This year’s ride home was much more jubilant.
The Lady Huskies cleared that finals hurdle this year with a 3-0 sweep of Northern Cambria Saturday afternoon at the AAHS Fieldhouse to win the District 6 1A championship.
“We really, really wanted this one. We weren’t leaving this year without a win,” BC coach Katie Wyland said. “The girls were swinging well, playing smart with the ball, passing it, doing everything I asked them to do.”
The Lady Huskies won the first two games 25-17 and 25-23 but when Autumn Donatelli put one down late in game three, Northern Cambria was up 24-22, one point away from forcing a fourth game.
Carroll got the next point then tied it on Maddie Murphy’s tip to a empty spot just over the net.
“I saw they had the double block coming from the outside so I just tried to tip it over there, and it worked. It was the best point,” Murphy said.
Murphy then teamed with Anna Haigh for a block on Northern standout hitter Maggie Hogan for the go-ahead point.
Mara Yahner followed with a serve that fell behind two Northern players to give Carroll a 26-24 win and the long-awaited gold medal.
“All I could think about was how hard we’ve worked to get here and how much I didn’t want it going to another set. I wanted to finish it right there,” Yahner said.
Caroline Ratchford led the team with 11 kills, including three in a row at one point in game three. Murphy had nine kills, and Yahner added eight.
“One of the things I tried to work on this year was having multiple girls involved. I didn’t want to rely on just one person,” Wyland said.
Murphy and Yahner played a strong defensive game at the net as well with six and four blocks, respectively.
Kayla Repko dished out 20 assists, and Kate Yahner led the team with 22 digs, many of which came defending Hogan’s blistering spikes.
“She’s a really great player. She had some great kills against us, but I just tried to stay low and was able to get the ball up a lot of the time,” she said. “We’re all really excited. It feels great to win finally.”
The same two teams met in the finals last year with Northern winning a hard-fought match that went five games. Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic downed Carroll in the championship match two years ago, and Purchase Line kept the Lady Huskies from winning the gold medal in 2015.
Both teams advance to the 1A state playoffs, which start Tuesday. Bishop Carroll plays WPIAL runner-up Carmichaels, and Northern gets the WPIAL champ Bishop Canevin. Sites and times to be determined.
“Bishop played great defense. They’re a really solid blocking team, which gave us some trouble,” NC coach Mike Hogan said. “We made some self-inflicted mistakes that could have been the difference for us pushing that match an extra game or two, but first and foremost, Bishop Carroll played great so congratulations to them.”
NORTHERN CAMBRIA: Buza 4, Hogan 4, Dumm 4, Donatelli 4, Lieb 3, Lutch 2.
Bishop Carroll: M. Yahner 8, Clark 6, Haigh 7, Murphy 1, k. Yahner 6.
Records: Northern Cambria (16-2); Bishop Carroll (20-2).