Lady Colts keep Clarion on heels

PIAA Class 2A Quarters H.S. Girls Volleyball

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Northern Cambria kept Clarion coach Shari Campbell on her heels all evening long.

After Clarion fought to a close second-set victory, the Lady Colts edged out the Lady Bobcats in the third and had a 9-point service run in the fourth and final set for a 25-20, 22-25, 27-25, 25-17 win over the District 9 champion in the PIAA Class 1A quarterfinals Saturday night at the Punxsutawney High School gymnasium.

“It’s a special day,” Northern Cambria coach Mike Hogan said. “We had a little bit of a jitter bug there early on, we lost a little concentration there. But once we settled down, we showed that we can play some pretty good ball.”

Hogan said he was pleased with his team’s performance to get the Lady Colts into the state semifinals, where they will face off against Bishop Carroll once again after the Lady Huskies topped Cochranton earlier.

“I was really pleased with how we finished strong at the end of the match,” Hogan said. “I thought Nicole Bearer had a heck of a match in the middle for us. She came up with several key blocks, and not at swings, but in key points of the match. You see her senior leadership coming through. Senior doesn’t want her year to end, putting the game on the line. I’m really happy the way she played there.”

Northern played Clarion at home earlier in the year so the preparation process for this game was little bit of a wait-and-see approach.

“We played them earlier in the year at our place, so we had film on them, they had film on us. So, I was just kind of wondering what they were going to try. Once we caught on to that, I kind of knew how to counter-attack.”

It also was nice, Hogan said, to get revenge on the team that eliminated his team from the state tournament last season.

“That’s always nice, yeah. We’ve known Coach Campbell, she does a heck of a job with her program over there; they’re good. And we knew at some point in time (we’d have to eliminate them), and that’s why we put them on our schedule. So, we knew it was going to be a battle.”

Hogan said the key to the win came from solving the Lady Colts passing difficulties which led to a tied game at one set each.

“I’d have to say once we settled our passing down,” Hogan said. We have a pretty strong hitting attack with Nicole (Bearer) and Maggie (Hogan) coming at them. And then Brooke (Lieb) and Autumn (Donatelli) were hitting, not as many, but they were taking some good swings for us as well.”

Coach Campbell said that Clarion had some communication missteps at the end of the third set that ended up costing them in the long run, including easy points for the Lady Colts on balls falling to the ground without a defender.

“You know, you can never tell somebody else to play a ball”, Campbell said. I feel like that’s giving away responsibility instead of taking it so that’s never good.”

“It took the wind out of our sails and it gave them some momentum because they were able to get the ball to (Maggie) Hogan more often,” she said. “I just really think that there were a couple of calls at the end that (my team) really didn’t think went there way at the net, and I think they should have been called. I just think it kind of affected us a little bit.”